Courses Overview

The OTepp Certificate Program aims to assist re-entry and internationally educated occupational therapists meet their learning needs in order to successfully transition into Canadian practice.  The courses are taught using adult learning methods, primarily self-directed learning and problem-based learning. 

All OTepp courses are offered online through the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Applicants who are living outside of Canada but meet the eligibility criteria may also join OTepp.  A reliable, high-speed Internet connection and microphone/headphones are required to participate. For students who are unable to join the online class in real time, the sessions are recorded and archived, and can be reviewed at the student’s convenience. However, we highly recommend that students join in real-time if at all possible in order to benefit from lively discussion.

The OTepp Certificate Program is an intense study experience where students will be expected to join two 3-hour classes ​each week (early evening Eastern Time Mondays and Thursdays), plus spend up to an additional 12 hours per week on homework and assignments to meet the requirements of each course.The amount of preparation time may vary for each individual. Students are required to complete and successfully pass (60% minimum grade) four assignments as indicated on the OTepp Certificate Program Outline. Students who ​pass the first four academic courses may engage in an eight-week practicum, supervised by a registered occupational therapist. Successful completion of the OTepp Certificate Program results in an undergraduate certificate from McMaster University.


Course List

Course 1 (OTEPP 1A02): Managing Practice, Responsibility and Professional Development
Mondays and Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET
March 8 - April 1, 2021

Course 1 provides students with a picture of occupational therapy practice in Canada including the settings and practice areas in which therapists currently work. Further, it allows students to explore professional and regulatory issues related to the structure and function of health care systems and organizations as well as evolving practice settings and roles of occupational therapists. Students will gain knowledge about inter-professional practice, issues of cultural sensitivity and ethical decision-making as an understanding of these concepts are important for practice in Canada.

Course 2 (OTEPP 1B02): Communication, Collaboration and Practice Knowledge
Mondays and Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET
April 5 - 29, 2021

This course provides students with the opportunity to study and discuss theories, models and concepts central to occupational therapy practice in Canada. Specifically, participants will explore communication with clients in terms of client-centred practice as well as communication with self through reflective practice. There will be particular emphasis on certain models of practice including the COPM, OPPM, CPPF, and PEO which illustrate the values and philosophy of the profession. Students will come to understand how these concepts and models are integrated into clinical reasoning and documentation.

Course 3 (OTEPP 1C02): Understanding Evidence and Using It in Practice
Mondays and Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET
May 3 - 27, 2021

This course allows students to build knowledge and skills in evidence-based occupational therapy practice. The course will begin by examining what is meant by “evidence” and its relevance to practice in terms of assessment and treatment. Students will discuss how to find evidence and how to evaluate the evidence. The process of clinical decision-making regarding when and how evidence influences practice will be explored. Students will discuss and apply their learning through a variety of exercises.

Course 4 (OTEPP 1D02):  Clinical Reasoning and Critical Thinking in a Practice Process
Mondays and Thursdays, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET
May 31 - June 24, 2021

Course 4 provides students with opportunities to integrate new and existing knowledge of person, environment and occupation through the exploration of four broad problem scenarios in a small group setting (online or face-to-face). The problem scenarios have been developed from clinical situations and experiences. The clients in these scenarios represent various life stages, cultural backgrounds and lifestyles and are experiencing a variety of impairments and disabilities. Areas of foci in the course include the theoretical underpinnings of practice, spirituality and development, determinants of occupation, occupational therapy practice settings and evidence-based practice.

Course 5 (OTEPP 1E02):  Supervised Practicum - 8 weeks / 300 hours
Dates to be determined

Course 5 provides students with an opportunity to integrate the foundational concepts and competencies discussed in their coursework in an eight-week full time hands-on clinical practicum (300 hours).  Students ​have an opportunity to reflect on and build further knowledge, skills, and professional behaviours as they prepare to enter practice. A central focus will be development of practice skills in the Canadian context and integration of knowledge of human occupation and health.

Curriculum Outline

Classes are held Mondays and Thursdays from 4:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m ET.
See below for the curriculum outline.  Registered students will be provided a student handbook, readings and password for the OTepp Learning Centre.

Title Type Size
Certificate Program Outline 2020 pdf 108 KB Download

Self Directed & Problem Based Learning

A few words to explain how you will work together to learn in the OTepp Program:

The OTepp Certificate program is taught using adult learning methods that rely upon the student being involved in the learning as a partner with the teacher. The two key methods are self-directed learning and problem-based learning. You will not be learning a lot of facts and then answering exam questions to show that you remember those facts. Instead, you will be reading articles and resource materials that are identified for you by the course teacher and posted as a resource list. You will be expected to be prepared when you come to class so that you can be a part of the discussions that will take place in the class.


Self-directed learning is best described by Malcolm Knowles, a very well known educator.

“In its broadest meaning, ’self-directed learning’ describes a process by which individuals take the initiative, with or without the assistance of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identify human and material resources for learning, choosing and implement appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.” (Knowles, 1975, p. 18).

And so, the key things to remember from this are first, that you have chosen to enter into this learning experience and you are responsible to follow up and complete your learning.  You will naturally get input from other people but you are required to work out your own solutions and understanding. The main point is that you are in charge of your learning; you know the objectives – what the goals are of the course or project – you have the resources, you share this experience with other students and a course facilitator or teacher.  This is probably very different from how you have learned before, but it is very much like Canadian professional practice.

Problem-based learning is based on the untidy, complex problems that you as therapists come across in practice; these cases are the impetus for learning and help you to integrate and organize what you have learned so that you will be able to remember when you learned this new information and then apply it appropriately in the future. By creating a learning environment where you work actively with the problem, you develop information finding skills, identify what gaps remain and possible sources for finding what is missing. You will connect what you learn in class to your own lives and what is happening around you.

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