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COTA’s Contributions to Education, Diversity and Inclusion Efforts, and Practice Standards Make an Impact

Krysta Rives is a COTA who has devoted herself to ensuring that future COTAs, and the patients they serve, are heard, prepared, and ready for the next phase of their lives.

Krysta Rives

Krysta Rives, MBA, COTA/L

Professor, OTA Program, Lakeland Community College

Professor, OTA Program, Jamestown Community College

Owner, OT Study nOTes LLC

Location: New York

Certified in 2013

2021 NBCOT Impact Award Winner

A Natural Leader Who Focuses Her Expertise on the Next Generation

The words “positive impact” are descriptors that have followed Krysta Rives throughout her professional career. Krysta is a COTA who has devoted herself to ensuring that future COTAs, and the patients they serve, are heard, prepared, and ready for the next phase of their lives. Krysta has been an instructor in several occupational therapy assistant (OTA) programs, where her impact and love of the profession is accelerated when students become practitioners.

Within and outside of the classroom, Krysta shares her knowledge, skills, and experiences to support high-quality and inclusive occupational therapy services. She is also a coauthor of the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (4th edition), which is a foundational guide in the profession. She mentors OTA students and graduates and serves as a guest speaker at occupational therapy academic programs, where she discusses topics such as the collaborative relationships between OTRs and COTAs; leadership; her journey through education; and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as it relates to academia and the occupational therapy profession. She also speaks to pre-college students about occupational therapy and how to enter the profession.

For practitioners, Krysta provides continuing education courses on various occupational therapy topics. She also created and manages hOTopics, a social media group that shares professional news, facilitates discussions on the roles of occupational therapy practitioners in society, and shares podcast episodes featuring interviews with OTRs and COTAs from around the U.S.

Krysta Rives and a student practice safe transfer techniques. Krysta sits on the bed and the student is in a wheelchair.

Compelled by a Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

Krysta is passionate about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in occupational therapy, and she has emerged as an advocate and leader on these issues within the profession for current and future practitioners. For the past several years, Krysta has been involved with the national organization Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD). She was one of the first developers of a COTAD education chapter within an OTA program, and she is currently a mentor in COTAD’s mentorship program. In addition to her work with COTAD, Krysta established an annual scholarship at her alma mater to support diversity within OT education and practice.

Krysta’s impact extends to the state and national levels as well. She served as chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force for the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association and as a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force. Her contributions show students and practitioners that COTAs have a place and a voice in leadership within the occupational therapy profession.

Creating Lasting Impact

Krysta has become a leader in the occupational therapy profession, offering her expertise, insights, and personal experiences to the benefit of current and future COTAs. Her work as an educator has created students who are motivated and excited about the profession. She also continually dedicates countless volunteer hours to important behind-the-scenes roles that benefit all practitioners. Her abilities and leadership were the reasons she was selected to be the founding program director of a new hybrid-style OTA program, allowing for greater access to education before distance learning became widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Krysta continually advocates for, and contributes to, professional practice and the advancement of client care. Her many contributions show her commitment to the occupational therapy profession and the advancement of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within it. She stands out to colleagues, especially other COTAs, and the public, as a consummate professional dedicated to clinical excellence, ethical integrity, and compassion.

“Krysta has been a constant servant and leader in our profession. Always compelled by her commitment to improve the outcomes of the client’s we serve, Krysta has sought to ensure that COTAs, and our entire OT profession, have the standards, guidelines, knowledge, and competency to deliver highest quality occupational therapy services.”

David M. Merlo, MS, COTA/L, CPRP, ROH

Program Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

Bryant & Stratton College

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