Consider Becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)

Consider Becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)By: Megan Cook, OTD, OTR/L


Are you interested in a healthcare career path that is challenging, rewarding, secure, and fun? Consider a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)! Pursuing a career as an OTA is possible at the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Medical Education Campus. OTAs work under the supervision of an occupational therapist to provide rehabilitative services to individuals across the lifespan, from infants to elderly, with physical, cognitive,    sychosocial, and/or developmental disabilities. OTAs help their clients more independently be able to perform self-care, work, and play/leisure tasks in order to promote a greater quality of life. It is a truly rewarding profession for both the OTA and for the clients served! Every day OTAs get to help individuals live life to the fullest!  

If you are interested in learning more or applying to the OTA program and have not yet attended a mandatory information session, please consider attending the next sessions on Tuesday, June 9 in room 253 from 12-1:30 PM or on Tuesday, July 14 from 12-1:30 PM in room 253. Discover what a path as an OTA could be like and to see if this is the career for you! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Meg Cook, Assistant Dean of the OTA Program at  

Nutrition Tips on Exam Day

 Nutrition Tips on Exam Day

nutritionSeeking to optimize your energy on the day of a big exam? Your nutritional choices can have a significant impact on  your focus and concentration as well as you overall physical energy. Below are some tips to consider when deciding on what food choices that will best boost your brain power:

  • Avoid foods that contain white flower such as cookies, cakes and muffins. They can overtax your digestive system and lower your energy in the process. In addition, foods high in refined sugar like candy and desserts can produce drastic energy highs and lows which can interfere with optimal energy levels and cause brain fog during the “low” periods.
  • While protein is a great energy booster, stay away from eating turkey right before an exam as it contains l-tryptophan, an amino acid that can lead to sleepiness. Instead, substitute chicken, fish, nuts and seeds or beef.  When consuming protein and carbohydrates together, eating a higher proportion of protein is a good way to sustain your energy and mental focus while too many carbohydrates can lead to drowsiness.
  •  When it comes to beverages, avoid sodas or juices with high amounts of sugar to prevent sugar swings which can de-stabilize your energy. Instead, opt for plenty of water to ensure sufficient hydration and limit your intake of caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea to prevent nervousness.
  • With regard to meals, plan several small meals throughout the day rather than a few larger meals. This will ensure that you are not overloading your digestive system in one sitting; smaller, more frequent meals are less work to process while having the added benefit of giving you frequent energy boosts throughout the day. Also, carry healthy snacks for break periods during the exam such as trail mix, granola bars, nuts and seeds to stabilize blood sugar and sustain your energy.
  • Get plenty of sleep and know when to put an end to your studying for the evening to avoid burnout and to let your mind relax. Set a goal for getting 7-8 hours sleep and create a timeline for when to end studying so that you will have enough time to get ready for the day ahead and allow time for a short walk, a chat with a friend, or listening to relaxing music or movie to ensure that your mind is clear and refreshed in time for exam day.

Most importantly, whether it is a month before an exam or a day before, be sure to engage in activities that keep you physically, socially and mentally balanced on a regular basis to ensure that you are maintaining good overall well being in the face of any academic or personal challenge that comes your way.

“The education of our people should be a lifelong process by which we continue to feed new vigor into the life stream of the Nation through intelligent, reasoned decisions. Let us not think of education only in terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education. Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our Nation.”





The American Presidency Project

Have Question? We have Answers!



Have a pressing question but can’t come to the MEC Campus?  On your last quarter tank of gas and can’t make the drive? Consider sending us an email. We can answer most questions sent via email. We ask that you send your questions to Make sure to send your email from your student email address and include your 7 digit EMPLID ID number. When submitting questions we ask you to list them out in bullets or 1-10 format. Most questions are answered the same business day, questions requiring a little more research will take longer to answer.

Avoid the Drive and the Line!

Email us at




5 Reasons to Love the MEC


You’ll never have to walk far to get to your next class. The MEC is three floors brimming with next generation teaching tools, and world class labs.


Don’t want to drive?  With shuttle services running throughoutΕ the day, you’re never more than a 10 minute ride from the Franconia-Springfield Metro. Just show your NOVA ID and ride for free.


Our one stop shop has everything you might need in one office. Need Financial aid, Disability services or advising? Come to room 202.


Our student activities office is active and our clubs keep our students engaged with one another and the community. Stop by 116 to find out more.


Need your coffee? We’ve got that too. Our on campus Starbucks is always there to keep you caffeinated.

Math the Final Frontier:


On most days I’ll have at least one or two students sitting across from me with this very common problem. They’ve completed everything in order to apply and they still need to pass the math placement test, or in the case of our nursing students the math placement test and the TEAS (Nursing Pre-Admission) test.  You can see the frustration hang in clouds around them as they come to the common issue of mastering math before a deadline.  Let us call these two students Sigma (∑) and Mu (µ).

“Do I really need to do this?” Mu asked with a
hopeful glance that I will say no. “Is there someone I can talk to” Sigma plaintively asked, looking to be absolved from the burden of dealing with math.  Again I have to break the news that no, they must meet all established requirements.  Math for most of the allied health and nursing programs is not something to be taken lightly. The placement test requirement is there to make sure a student is well equipped to deal with the mathematical concepts present in the different disciplines.  As such it must be taken to heart that passing the test is not just meeting a requirement, but signaling that you are at least in part ready to tackle the challenge ahead.

Sigma stirs and says, “I’ve completed a degree….I don’t need to take the placement test do I?”  The short answer is always yes; all students are required to demonstrate that they are able to operate at the prescribed math level.  Not all degrees require college level math courses and as such a student may in fact still need to take a test.  If a student has transferred a college level math to NOVA than a test is not required. For all others taking the math placement test is a must.

“Ok I get it. I’m going to have to take the math placement test?  What can I do now? I’m ‘terrible’ at math,” grumbles Mu. At this point in the visit the hope starts to drain out of a prospective student, swallowed up by the idea that this abstract assortment of esoteric knowledge will hold them back in their march forward.

Most students do not realize that they can prepare for the math placement test like any other test. They also do not realize that there exists a wealth of resources to get them up to speed in almost any topic imaginable and they’re all for free.  The cost to the student is the time and effort it takes to understand the material.  (Easier said than done right?)  Nothing comes easy, but at the end of the day the question is how bad you want/need it.  For some students this will mean taking a developmental math course for a semester or two, and potentially missing a deadline. For others it will mean setting aside other commitments in order to focus on the primary objective.  Math does not need to be the end of the road, often it is just the beginning of it.

Take the time to look over the following links as you prepare to take a step towards your goal.

The first step is review the Math Placement Test site on the NOVA website.  It offers a wide variety of links that may assist you. For many students the practice test and review packet is sufficient.

Placement test information:

Review Packet:

Some students will wish to practice their math skills before taking the exam. Khan Academy is a free online school.  Students typically find that practicing on this site at least an hour a day for a week or two  gets them ready for the test.

Math Practice:

If you are not able to pass the required units that your program application requires, you will then be required to take a developmental math course.  Developmental math is not a four letter word, but an opportunity for you to grow academically and better prepared to succeed in your program of choice.


5 Things to Know About your Nursing Application

1. Applications are processed by the Student Services Office at the MEC

2. Applicants are emailed once their application has been processed.

3. You should expect to receive an email from the MEC Student Services office between now and June 5th.

4. Applications that have met the requirements are forwarded to the nursing department, where they make final decisions as to whom is accepted.

5. You should enjoy your summer and relax and prepare for an exciting fall semester in the nursing program!