Clinically Speaking

Test Time: Preparing for the ATS/ATP Exam

Q : The University of Pittsburgh offers a RESNA exam review course. How would you describe the course?

A: The course is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the content areas people need to know to pass the board exam. It is not intended to teach people to be experts in all areas of assistive technology (AT), but rather to identify what they need to know from the fundamentals perspective to be able to carefully read a multiple-choice question and pick an answer from a best-practice perspective.
The course covers all aspects of the exam content from basic knowledge of medical conditions, to different areas of AT application, service delivery and policy. We emphasize that this is a board examination, testing a candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge in a best-case scenario (i.e., what would be the right thing to do regardless of extraneous factors we deal with in real-case scenarios, such as funding). Throughout the course, we give specific examples of how material might appear in a question on the test, and the best ways to analyze the question and select the right answer. Test-taking strategies are a key point of the course; we know that many people sitting for the exam might not have been in school for years. Therefore, the adult learner was at the forefront of the course design.


Q: Can this course can be taken in increments instead of in a single eight-hour period?

A: People can take this course anytime they want directly from a computer with a high-speed Internet connection.
They can take it in whatever increments suit their needs. On the computer screen, participants see and hear the presenter in one window and the PowerPoint presentation in another window. It is like being in the room with the presenter. The course is available on-demand anytime day or night, much like ordering a pay-per-view movie where you can pause it, fast-forward, rewind, stop, replay, etc.
The course is delivered using the University of Pittsburgh’s e-Learning technology known as MediaSite Live, which is intuitive and seamless to the participant. Once people register for the course, they are provided with a Web site link, user name, and password. Once logged in, they can download the handouts and click on the links to the lectures.
This method is very cost effective and designed for the person who has a busy lifestyle. Feedback has been very positive. People report they can watch the lectures after they put their kids to bed, in the morning or during the day when they find free time. They can re-watch material that requires more attention.

Q: Should an RTS have a certain level of experience or knowledge before taking this course?

A: The course was not designed to be an introduction to AT (although it can be if people want an
idea of what AT is), but rather serves to let people know what they need to know for the exam and how to prepare a study plan. It is also designed this way because to sit for the exam, candidates must meet eligibility requirements, including work experience and continuing education (refer to eligibility requirements at www.resna.org). Upon completion of this course, attendees receive eight continuing education contact hours (or 0.8 CEUs) that count towards the continuing education
requirements to sit for the exam.

Q: Do participants have any common misconceptions about the course’s goals?

A: This has not been a problem, as we are pretty clear in the course description that it is not a comprehensive course about AT. We cover all areas of AT intervention and focus on areas we know many candidates are less familiar with, such as computer access and augmentative communication. After taking the course, attendees reported they feel much more comfortable with these areas of AT that they are less familiar with, as a lot of the same principles apply whether you are providing wheelchairs, computers, or communication devices. This is not a crash course to learn everything you need to know right before sitting for the exam, but rather a course people should take at least a month and maybe two or more before the test to give themselves time to study areas they identify as weaknesses.

Q: What can RTS’s do prior to the course to help maximize the experience?
A: Nothing really, because this course is designed to be a first step towards getting ready to take the exam. People can start reading Cook & Hussey or the RESNA Fundamentals book, but the readings will be shared in the review course. For more information about this course or other online courses, go to www.rstce.pitt.edu.


This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Dr. Mark Schmeler has been a member of the University of Pitsburgh faculty since 1996 and has been in the assistive technology field for nearly two decades.

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