The OU Extended Campus College of Professional and Continuing Studies is pioneering nontraditional education and offering a course that will prepare students to become Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs). As part of the Lifespan Care Administration degree program, the 8-week course offers the most manageable way for students to become qualified healthcare providers working with people with disabilities.
“A lot of people have been doing this for many years without any training, without any specifics,” according to Annie Baghdayan, Director of the National Center for Disability Education and Training (NCDET). “This course teaches them from the competency that was created by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB).”
This certification addresses the shortage of qualified workers in the field of disability by allowing students to become immediately employable. “This allows a more flexible and comprehensive training than other programs out there, and we’re thrilled to offer this option,” she said.
Unlike other courses of this type, the RBT class at OU Extended Campus is available 100 percent online. This format makes it more manageable for adults who want to become certified but cannot afford time away from work to do so.
“A lot of organizations offer the training, but as a weeklong training that is very intensive,” said Baghdayan. “People cannot afford to lose an employee for a week to go to this training and complete it. Our course is different in the format and in the presentation. It’s all online, so you don’t have to miss work. You can still work during the day and do all of the required training online when you get home.”
“It is a basic toolkit to help care providers in any setting understand patient behavior and give them the tools to work with people with disabilities.”
OU Extended Campus was also the first to offer this course for optional college credit.
“Most certificate programs do not let you keep your credit when you are just doing a certificate program. In our course, that’s not the case.”
The RBT class focuses primarily on using scientific and psychological principles from Applied Behavior Analysis, a technique that has shown tremendous success in the behavioral field. The prevalence of autism in the community and the extraordinary results that have been seen from this type of behavior therapy have led to an increase in demand for RBTs trained in this technique.
“Applied Behavior Analysis didn’t exist only for people with autism, it existed for anyone,” she explained. “But because of the efficacy of the outcomes for people inside the autism spectrum, their community utilizes RBTs the most. I’m working directly with Autism Speaks, which is the organization that passes laws or mandates in every state. Oklahoma passed a mandate in 2016 to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorder in individuals."
This class is not just for those who want to help individuals with autism, however.
“It’s really for anyone who is interested in working with people with disabilities, whether it’s a child, adult, or an elderly person,” said Baghdayan. “It is a basic toolkit to help care providers in any setting understand patient behavior and give them the tools to work with people with disabilities.”
Although the course is listed as an elective in the OU Extended Campus Lifespan Care Administration degree program, it's also available independently to anyone who passes a BACB background check and has obtained a high school diploma or equivalent.
After the course is complete, students can send their certificate of completion to the BACB, pay a small fee, take the BACB exam and become Registered Behavior Technicians. Insurance companies Magellan and Tricare reimburse RBTs at an hourly rate.
Contact Annie Baghdayan, PhD with the National Center for Disability Education and Training at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 325-0158 for more information about completing the training required for the RBT credential online.