Medical advances permit a growing number of children and adults to live successfully with disabilities. Clients, who have experienced an injury or a health condition that has impacted their ability to function in day-to-day life, can maximize their physical, mental and social abilities through rehabilitation. Under the supervision of an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, the therapist assistant works with clients across the lifespan with the goal of helping the clients to be active participants in society. Therapist assistants also support facility administration by managing therapeutic supplies and maintaining equipment.
SAIT’s Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant diploma program trains students to become knowledgeable and skilled assistants in occupational and physical therapy. Course content meets or exceeds the essential competencies required for support personnel in both professions.
The Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program is two years in length and is comprised of four semesters. The first semester of the program addresses key concepts of rehabilitation and healthcare delivery. Observational visits to the clinical settings assist the student in integrating knowledge of normal physical and psychological function with basic therapeutic skills. More advanced rehabilitation concepts, common health conditions and therapeutic skills used in occupational therapy and physical therapy are taught in the second semester. Professionalism and communication skills are also emphasized and practiced when the student completes a four-week practicum.
In the third semester of the program, advanced therapeutic skills and complex health conditions are taught. In the fourth and final semester, professional practices are integrated in the 12 week practicum. The student returns to SAIT for the final two weeks of the semester for comprehensive practical examinations and to consolidate his/her experiences.
Students must be disciplined for learning through self-study, face-to-face at SAIT, and in a clinical setting and online. Practica experiences are unpaid and may occur outside the Calgary area.
Students require a personal computer with Internet access and e-mail capabilities in order to complete the required courses. All courses require additional self-study.
Graduates find work in a variety of settings including rehabilitation centres, mental health facilities, long-term care facilities, hospitals, schools and private physiotherapy and occupational therapy services in both urban and rural settings.
Students must be physically fit and able to lift a minimum weight of 50 pounds.
Previous work or volunteer experience in a health- or wellness-related field is an asset.
Students who experience success in this program:
- Have at least basic computer skills
- Possess effective communication skills in both written and spoken English
- Have higher secondary or post-secondary marks
- Are self-directed, highly motivated, detail oriented and well-organized
- Are professional and flexible
- Enjoy working in a team environment and in diverse settings
- Above all, enjoy relating to others
Credentials and accreditation
After successfully completing this program, graduates will receive a SAIT Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant diploma with both the occupational therapist assistant (OTA) and the physical therapist assistant (PTA) discipline designations.
The Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant Program at SAIT Polytechnic has been accredited by the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program (OTA & PTA EAP) in collaboration with Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC) and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). The status of Accreditation was granted to the program on April 30, 2016 for the period until April 30, 2022.
For more information please contact the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program, c/oPhysiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada, Suite 26, 509 Commissioners Road West, London, Ontario, N6J 1Y5, (226) 636-0632.
The opportunity to advance your education through transfer to, within or from SAIT is available with the following universities and colleges:
- Athabasca University
- University of Calgary
- University of Northampton
- University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)
To learn more, visit Transfer Options.
Admission and Selection
- Fall 2019 start: applications are accepted Oct. 3, 2018 to Jan. 31, 2019.
Completion of the following courses or equivalents with an overall average of at least 60%:
- English Language Arts 30-1,
- Biology 30,
- Chemistry 20 or Science 20.
- All applicants must demonstrate English Language Proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.
SAIT evaluates international documents for admissions. After you've applied, consider our international document assessment service if your education is from outside of Canada.
Competitive Entry: Seven Step Process
Step 1: Read the program information to see the qualities needed for student success.
Step 2: Ensure that you meet all of the admission requirements listed above.
Step 3: Review the selection information to understand the process and deadlines
- Applications and proof of the admission requirements (transcripts and/or anticipated final grades) along with all supporting documents must be submitted by Jan. 31 to be included in selection.
- Applicants will have one attempt to complete the selection process for this program. If you're not offered admission, you can re-apply for the next intake and you will be required to complete the selection process again.
- If the program is not oversubscribed on Feb. 1, the remaining seats will be offered to applicants on a first-qualified, first-offered basis.
In the selection process, applicants will be assessed on the following criteria and seats will be offered accordingly.
Phase 1: Program Selection Package
Applicants who meet the admission requirements will be sent a program selection package via email.
The selection package must be completed and returned to SAIT by the date indicated on the selection package cover page.
You are solely responsible to ensure the information in the selection package is legible, articulate and best reflects you as a candidate. Falsifying information will result in your application being removed immediately from the selection process.
Selection packages are evaluated using standardized answer keys and will be scored within two weeks of submission.
- If the selection package score is above the benchmark established by the School of Health and Public Safety, the applicant will move to Phase 2 of the selection process.
- If the selection package score is below benchmark, the applicant will be declined in selection.
- Applicants who fail to complete and submit their packages by the deadline date will also be declined from further selection.
Phase 2: Interview
Applicants who successfully move to Phase 2 of the selection process will be emailed an interview invitation.
- Interviews will not begin until February to ensure a sufficient applicant pool.
- The applicant will receive two weeks' notice of the scheduled interview, when possible.
Interviewees should attend the interview session in person. Individuals residing outside of Alberta may have the opportunity to participate in a conference call.
The program and selection committee are not responsible for technical support to the applicant or any loss of connectivity through the interview process. Web conference interviews will not be rebooked if an individual has technical difficulties, loses connectivity, or cannot hear the interview responses.
Step 5: Log in to mySAIT.ca to check your admission status. If eligible, your status will indicate that you're "In Selection."
Step 6: Complete your selection package.
Failure to meet anticipated final grades will result in offers being rescinded.
Communication during selection
Email is the primary source of communication during the selection process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications.
We recommend you add email@example.com and the sait.ca domain to your safe senders list or you risk missing critical email messages.
Due to the significant number of applications for this program, the selection process can take some time. Every effort will be made to maintain the timelines outlined above. We appreciate your patience. You can also log on to mySAIT.ca to check your admission decision status.
Unfortunately, due to the extremely large volume of applicants, we cannot provide any assistance or follow-up as to why the candidate was not competitive or where the applicant is ranked on the waitlist.
The School of Health and Public Safety has many practica partners located within Alberta and across Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited and students are frequently required to relocate outside of Calgary for practicum.
Successful candidates will be informed of the allocation of their practicum placement by the program. There is no guarantee that students will be placed at their desired practicum location. Special considerations of personal circumstances will not be given in regards to assigning practicum placements. Students will be responsible for fees associated with practicum such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.
In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, successful candidates will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:
Updated Immunization Records: Most practicum sites require students to demonstrate updated immunization status prior to attending practicum. The receiving practicum site has the right to refuse students who cannot prove they have met all the required immunizations.
Security Clearance: According to the Protection for Persons in Care Act, our practica sites require that students obtain a Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check, prior to going on practicum. Any criminal code offence for which a pardon has not been received may be a deterrent to a student's entry into practicum, and therefore will result in an uncompleted program or non-graduating status. Successful candidates will be asked to provide a clear Police Information Check including Vulnerable Sector Check record to the School of Health and Public Safety main office by orientation day. Please review the security clearance process document for specific details. Be aware that record must be dated no earlier than 90 days prior to your program orientation day (typically orientation day is held the week prior to the first day of class).
N95 Respiratory Mask: Fit testing is done to determine which make and model of N95 respiratory mask should be used by an individual. In compliance with Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Code 2009, students are fit-tested for respiratory masks prior to their practica. Occupational Health and Safety Bulletin, Respiratory Protective Equipment: An Employer's Guide states the effectiveness of the respiratory protective equipment depends on an effective face piece seal to the skin of the face. The mask must be tight enough so that the person is breathing only air which has been filtered. The seal is dependent on facial differences (shape or size) or facial hair. Facial hair must be removed where the mask contacts the face for the test. Failure to adequately fit an N95 mask may result in a restricted practicum and\or limited employment. Additionally, a student may need to be tested again in two years or if there are changes to the face which impact the ability of the respirator to form an effective seal (e.g. Weight gain/loss, growth of facial hair, dental surgery, or facial scarring).
Health and Wellness Status: Due to the demanding nature of the work in the health care field and Occupational Health and Safety requirements, the health care field has a strong focus on health and wellness. Students with a medical condition or disability that may impact them in a practicum setting are strongly advised to discuss concerns with the program academic chair and/or SAIT Accessibility Services as soon as possible upon acceptance into the program. Please review the attached document for guidance on entering an allied health program with a medical condition or disability.
More details on the practica requirements per program are outlined on a pre-orientation website for successful candidates.
- This program is being reviewed and could undergo changes.
- SAIT students are offered an opportunity to develop lifelong learning skills in an online environment. One or more courses in the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program are offered fully or partially online.
- View additional Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant program information including course-specific descriptions and requisites.
Semester 1 - Fall
|Course Code||Course Name||Credit|
|ANPH-209*||Anatomy and Physiology||3.0|
|ORNT-208||Orientation to Rehabilitation||3.0|
|PROF-210||Introduction to Healthcare Delivery||1.5|
|RHAB-230||Anatomy of Movement||3.0|
|RHAB-232||Fundamentals of Client Care||3.0|
|Semester 1 Total||16.5|
Semester 2 - Winter
|Course Code||Course Name||Credit|
|RHAB-203||Applied Client Care||1.5|
|RHAB-240||Practice Skills - Modalities||3.0|
|RHAB-242||Practice Skills - Occupational Therapy Assistant Foundations||3.0|
|RHAB-244||Practice Skills - Exercise||3.0|
|RHAB-246||Health Conditions 1||3.0|
|COMM-263||Practice Skills - Communication||3.0|
|Semester 2 Total||16.5|
|First Year Total||33.0|
Semester 3 - Fall
|Course Code||Course Name||Credit|
|RHAB-260||Practice Skills - Mental Health Concepts||3.0|
|RHAB-262||Occupational Therapy Assistant Advanced Practice Skills||3.0|
|RHAB-264||Physical Therapy Assistant Advanced Practice Skills||3.0|
|RHAB-268||Health Conditions 2||3.0|
|Semester 3 Total||16.5|
|First Year Total||30.0|
Semester 4 - Winter
|Course Code||Course Name||Credit|
|Semester 4 Total||10.5|
|Second Year Total||27.0|
*Available by correspondence or online learning. The courses must be completed within the time frame shown in the program outline. Please contact the Academic Chair prior to enrolling in any online or correspondence courses. Please be advised that full-time student status requires students to take 60% of a full course load per semester. Depending on the number of courses completed by correspondence, a student may be considered a part-time student, which may impact his/her financial loan status.
Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.
Domestic Tuition and Fees*
|Year||Tuition fees||SAIT fees||SAITSA fees||2019/20 total|
International Tuition and Fees*
|Year||Tuition fees||SAIT fees||SAITSA fees||2019/20 total|
Campus Athletic and Recreation Fee: $160
Universal Transit Pass (UPass): $302
SAIT Students' Association Fees
Health Plan: $110**
Dental Plan: $125**
SAIT Students' Association (SAITSA): $288
Books and Supplies*
- Students are responsible for any additional expenses related to their practicum including relocation costs to practicum sites outside of Calgary.
- There is a fee associated with obtaining a police information check including Vulnerable Sector Check and is payable to the Police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP.)
- Textbooks and other learning materials cost about $1,500.
- Students must have a personal computer and access to the Internet. Most classes are taught at SAIT, but some require online access. All courses require additional self‐study.
- Students must have their immunizations reviewed by the SAIT Health Clinic. There is a $50 charge to review vaccine history. Any vaccines to be administered will result in additional charges.
Find out about tuition and financial aid.
* Tuition, fees, books and supply costs are subject to change.
** For students with existing health and/or dental plans, please refer to the SAITSA website for information on opting out.
School of Health and Public Safety
Upon graduation, Samantha had a contract with Age Care Retirement Homes. She says she felt prepared to enter the workforce thanks to the great deal of hands-on experience she received during the program.
Kimberley found it rewarding being hands-on with patients during her program and seeing them make small improvements along the way.
Hands-on instruction combined with lots of practice has given Shahn the assurance he needs to enter the job market.
Breanna has never liked learning from a book, so this program was ideal.
"I really liked the hands-on learning and practicums," she says. "Getting out there in the real world and seeing what it's actually like."
"I have a job already at Rockyview Hospital."
“It’s prepared us for our placements. I’m more ready for a job; I feel very prepared, very confident.”
"We spend so much time on practicum; we're learning hands on. It made me more confident in my skills."