NEPLY, Haiti — When 16 students and staff from the Navarro College Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physical Therapist Assistant programs gather in orange t-shirts and head to Haiti, there is only one result — adventure.

From May 13—20, a group of nine Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students and five Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) students visited Neply, Haiti, to provide therapy services and volunteer work through the organization myLIFEspeaks (https://www.mylifespeaks.com/). OTA instructors Lesa Hough and Michelle Mahone volunteered their time and energy to supervise the trip.

Applying their knowledge from three semesters of therapy coursework, the students were given a unique opportunity to gain clinical experience outside of the United States. Team members performed therapy alongside former PTA adjunct instructor Rhonda Nisbett, who currently resides in Neply to provide physical therapy in the myLIFEspeaks therapy clinic.

During the week, students performed developmental assessments on local children, hosted an exercise and fine motor group for the elderly, volunteered in equine therapy, assisted with adaptive equipment, participated in feeding programs, and provided special celebrations for local therapy aides.

Additionally, the OTA and PTA students experienced Haitian culture through local cuisine, village walks, service projects within village homes, a beach day at a nearby Haitian resort, and bus rides to and from Port Au Prince.

Witnessing unique challenges related to living in Haiti taught the therapy students the importance of understanding clients’ cultural and environmental contexts in order to provide effective therapy services.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant curriculum at Navarro College includes both classroom and education at the College and fieldwork (clinical) training in occupational therapy and community settings.

Upon successful completion of academic and fieldwork education, students are awarded an A.A.S. degree. Graduates are eligible to sit for the national certification exam for occupational therapy assistants provided by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) to become a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA).

Additional employment requirements, such as state licensure, vary from state to state and among countries. The student is encouraged to determine the additional employment requirements of the state or nation in which he or she wishes to work.

The recently accredited Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) program helps prepare students to enter the field of physical therapy through academic and clinical studies. The PTA curriculum includes both classroom education at Navarro College and clinical training in traditional and non-traditional physical therapy practice settings.

Upon successful completion of academic and clinical studies, students are awarded an A.A.S. degree. Graduates are eligible to sit for the national certification exam for physical therapy assistants provided by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) to become a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). Additional employment requirements, such as state licensure, vary from state to state and among countries.

The student is encouraged to determine the additional employment requirements of the state or nation in which he or she wishes to work.

Registration for the fall semester is now open and classes begin August 28. More information can be found at www.navarrocollege.edu or by calling 1-800-NAVARRO.