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Navigator FAQs

General Questions

What is the NBCOT Navigator?
NBCOT Navigator is a new suite of online competency development tools that can augment and support an occupational therapy certificant's development efforts. It is an evidence-based virtual platform that mimics real life practice to help OTR® and COTA® certificants assess competency across all areas of occupational therapy.

Why the need for a tools like NBCOT Navigator?

There have been vast changes and an explosion in knowledge in the field of occupational therapy in recent years. It is not enough for practitioners to merely "keep up" with new developments, and continuing education courses alone do not provide the participant enough feedback on strengths or weaknesses. NBCOT Navigator complements current professional development plans, but also provides customized information on how to make improvements or chart a professional development course to move into new practice areas.

How did NBCOT come up with the platform/overall idea for this tool?

In 2013, NBCOT launched the development of these tools to respond to an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report titled, "Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality," which was a call for action to health professionals to reform and reinvigorate continuing competency. With the help and feedback from more than 2,500 certificants, regulators, and employers, NBCOT completed a practice analysis study to identify relevant practice competency domains and tasks occupational therapists perform within these domains in modern practice. We took the results from that study and created NBCOT Navigator as a meaningful suite of convenient continuing competency assessment tools to add to our existing offerings.

How does the NBCOT Navigator tool suite work?

NBCOT Navigator uses an interactive virtual platform featuring games, quizzes, and case simulations that mimic real life practice and case scenarios to help OTR and COTA certificants assess competency across all areas of occupational therapy.

A user begins the NBCOT Navigator by completing the self-reflection questionnaire, which provides a customized list of tool recommendations to better help a user reach his or her continuing competency goals. Users then verify practice strengths by completing case simulations, matching games, and mini practice quizzes that result in customized feedback with recommendations for follow-up reading.

How is this different from certification renewal or other existing professional assessment?

The value of the OTR and COTA credentials has become increasingly important. True practice competency is a continual process, not just an exercise that occurs every three years with certification renewal. NBCOT Navigator complements current professional development continuing competency plans and those who are certified as OTR and COTA can earn Competency Assessment Units (CAU) toward their next renewal cycle. These tools enable OTs to demonstrate knowledge of contemporary practice and sharpen their skills, elevating them to the top of their game.

Has the product been tested?

Yes. NBCOT conducted message and usability testing on the NBCOT Navigator platform with hundreds of certificants and employers. Testing feedback was used to optimize the tool suite, providing the best user experience for OTR and COTA certificants. User feedback on the final product has been positive—underscoring the need for practical, convenient continuing competency resources across all practices and skills levels.

Is NBCOT the first certification board to use virtual/gaming technology for assessment?

Yes, NBCOT is the first certification board to use this kind of technology to provide an evidence-based competency development experience for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. It is important to note that while built on an interactive, or gaming, platform, a user does not need to be a "gamer" to easily interact with and use the tool suite. This interactive platform applies to all OTR and COTA professionals.

A virtual experience does not replace real patient interaction. How will this tool really be effective in helping OTs with their job?

NBCOT Navigator is one tool in the OT's professional development toolbox and it is incumbent upon the practitioner to keep going back to that toolbox to continually refine his or her skills and abilities. NBCOT Navigator uses an interactive platform featuring case simulations that mimic real life practice to help OTR and COTA certificants assess competency across all areas of occupational therapy. True practice competency is a continual process, not just an exercise that occurs every three years with certification renewal. Real practice excellence—one that inspires confidence among clients, employers, and the general public—is maintaining the OTR and COTA credential.

What is the cost of using the NBCOT Navigator?

The NBCOT Navigator is available to active OTR and COTA certificants.

Logistical Questions

How do I access NBCOT Navigator?

OTR and COTA certificants can access NBCOT Navigator through their MyNBCOT account.  Login to access. 

Will NBCOT Navigator be available in app form for mobile and/or tablet viewing?
Not at this time.

I click on "Earn CAU" and nothing happens. Why won't the tool start?
The tools work best in Chrome, Firefox, or Safari on a Mac.  You may want to switch the browser you are using to access the tools. 

Can I start a tool, stop it, then return to complete it at a later time?
No. Once you start a tool, you need to complete it in one sitting.

How long does it take to complete a tool?
It varies. Some are designed to be very quick and easy to complete, like the OT Knowledge Library and mini practice quizzes. Others, like the case simulations and PICO tools, take longer to complete, up to 30 minutes.

Is there a help line or an online tutorial for Navigator support?
An overview of Navigator, including a video tutorial, is available at Additional videos can be found on our YouTube channel—Google “National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy YouTube Channel” to find it easily. You can also email NBCOT at

Are there online tutorials for ProQuest and RefWorks?
Online tutorials for ProQuest and RefWorks can be found by accessing the programs through your MyNBCOT account. Both services offer help and support once logged into their systems.

How frequently will the Navigator be updated and maintained?

NBCOT has a working group of OTR and COTA certificants who are continually developing new tools and reviewing and enhancing current content. New tools will be added to the Navigator on a continual basis.

Does NBCOT monitor my progress on the Navigator?

No. A certificant's tool progress and assessment results are confidential to the certificant.

How is confidentiality managed on the Navigator? Can anyone else access my results?
Results are confidential. It is entirely at the discretion of the certificant whether they choose to share their results from the Navigator tools with their employer or any other third party.

How can I access the articles provided in the Navigator's recommended reading list?
All recommended articles are automatically added to your personal reading list. Click on the article you would like to read and it will automatically open in ProQuest. ProQuest is accessible at no cost to OTR and COTA certificants through your MyNBCOT account.

Does the system save where you are within a tool if you close out of the browser before you finish?
No. Each tool must be completed in its entirety before logging off. The quizzes generally take 10 minutes each to complete; the OT Knowledge Library takes approximately 5 minutes; and the longest of the case simulations take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Who Can Use the Navigator? 

Is the Navigator only open to currently certified OTR and COTA certificants? Can students and non-NBCOT members access the Navigator?
The Navigator is only available to certified OTR and COTA certificants. We do provide tools for students, housed in the Aspire® suite.

Does the Navigator support the professional development of educators?
If the educators are certified OTR or COTA certificants, they have access to the Navigator tools. Educators interested in tools for students can check out the Aspire® suite.

How can employers access the Navigator?
The Navigator is available to current OTR and COTA certificants. At this time, non-OTR and -COTA employers cannot access the tool suite directly, but NBCOT will offer a demo and information for any employers or supervisors who are interested in learning more. For more information, contact

Will employers get value from NBCOT Navigator?

Yes. We designed NBCOT Navigator not only with certificants and students, but also employers, in mind. While employers cannot directly access the tool suite at this time, they will be able to direct their staff to NBCOT Navigator so they can measure themselves and test their competency against contemporary practice standards. Encouraging use of NBCOT Navigator is a great way to participate in staff professional development without taking your staff away from the work environment or their clients. If supervisors and managers have an OTR or COTA credential, they can access the tools through their own MyNBCOT portal for their own continued competency needs.

PDU Questions

How many PDU can be earned through the Navigator?

A total of 36 units must be accrued by the certificant during any one renewal cycle. Certificants can earn Competency Assessment Units (CAU) toward their certification renewal through the Navigator. NBCOT also offers a number of other ways for certificants to earn units, which are highlighted in the Certification Renewal Activities Chart.

How many times may I take the quizzes or complete the animated simulations?
There is a limit to the number of times you can take quizzes and case simulations to earn Competency Assessment Units (CAU). Each quiz may be taken twice. Each case simulation may be taken up to a maximum of three times.

How can I keep track of the units earned through the Navigator?
Units earned through the Navigator are automatically tracked for you in your Certification Renewal Log in MyNBCOT. You can also view your progress on your Navigator Dashboard, located under the Navigator tab on MyNBCOT.

Can professional development or continuing education credit from other organizations be applied to PDU through the Navigator?
For information on professional development activities accepted for NBCOT certification renewal, please review the Certification Renewal Activities Chart. Units accrued from activities outside of the Navigator tools can be uploaded to your Certification Renewal Log housed on your MyNBCOT account.

Will the Competency Assessment Units (CAU) earned through the Navigator be accepted for state license renewal?

At this time, the following states have confirmed acceptance of the Navigator (contingent upon fulfilling all other state specific requirements):

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California (Navigator tools are accepted with the exception of the self-reflection questionnaire)
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut (NBCOT online competency assessment tools appear to meet criteria established in Connecticut General Statues and the Regulations.)
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Iowa (NBCOT online competency assessment tools appear to meet criteria established in state's Administrative Rules for Continuing Education.)
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota (Contingent upon fulfilling all other state-specific requirements including a minimum of one (1) clock hour per session)
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania (Navigator tools are accepted with the exception of the self-reflection questionnaire)
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah (NBCOT online competency assessment tools appear to meet criteria established in state's Occupational Therapy Practice Act Rule.)
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming (contingent upon fulfilling all other state-specific requirements)

We anticipate this number to grow quickly as more states add the Navigator to their regulations or take it to their board for a vote.

If my state does not recognize the Navigator, will my Competency Assessment Units (CAU) not count?
Please check directly with your state. Contact them to encourage acceptance of the Navigator. State contact information is available once you log in to your MyNBCOT account.

Will the Navigator alert me when I have obtained the maximum number of usable Competency Assessment Units (CAU) per renewal period?
You will not earn CAU after you have completed the maximum number allowed per tool. You can view your progress through your MyNBCOT account under Navigator.

Content Questions

What does PICO stand for?
PICO is an acronym for a strategy to assist certificants in completing evidence-based literature searches. PICO stands for: Patient/Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome.

Are there different activities for OTRs and COTAs?
Yes. As you complete the self-reflection at the beginning of the Navigator, tool recommendations specific to your certification and practice experiences/interests will be presented to you.

Does the Navigator cover all conditions in occupational therapy, including specialty areas?
All content for the tools in the Navigator is driven by the results from NBCOT's certification renewal practice analysis study. This study, completed with thousands of NBCOT certificants, gathered data on certificants' current practice areas.

Are the Navigator tools focused by practice area?

Yes. The Navigator can be used across a wide range of practice areas, including: pediatrics, orthopedics, physical disabilities, community mobility, mental health, older adult, and general practice.

Does the Navigator provide intervention ideas?
Yes. Case simulations guide practitioners through different scenarios where they will learn about a case, interact and converse with patients, and decide which tests and strategies to use. This tool allows users to make decisions about real scenarios and receive feedback regarding assessment and intervention choices.

Where can I find a list of descriptions and assessment objectives for each Navigator tool?

View Navigator tool descriptions and assessment objectives for the OTR.

View Navigator tool descriptions and assessment objectives for the COTA.

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