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Occupational Therapy Assistant
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Helping others gain their independence can be a wonderful career opportunity.
Young or old, we all have a job to do: the job of living. Learning, growing, playing, working, managing our homes, and caring for our families could all be considered some of life's occupations. Unfortunately, physical, emotional, or other challenges often prevent individuals from fully participating in these duties of everyday living.
Disease, injury, mental illness, or developmental problems can make it difficult to do everyday activities independently and safely. Occupational therapy assistants make it possible for people to regain independence and live life to its fullest. By choosing a career in occupational therapy, you will make a difference! You will be able to improve the lives of people of all ages, from newborns to the very old (AOTA, 2010).
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) focus on helping people of all ages regain, develop, or master everyday skills in order to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Working under the supervision of occupational therapists, the OTA’s ultimate goal is to improve an individual’s quality of life by helping him or her live as independently and safely as possible. As an OTA, you may be asked to:
- Train individuals in the use of rehab devices, adaptive equipment, wheelchair mobility, orthotics, prosthetics, or adaptive driving
- Train individuals or caregivers in daily living skills such as eating, dressing, safety, and home management skills
- Help individuals develop sensory, neuromuscular, cognitive, and motor skills
- Design and fabricate splints
- Modify the environment, apply ergonomic principles, and be involved in care coordination and case management
- Promote education, work, leisure activities, and exercise
- Monitor and record patient progress
- Schedule appointments and assist in billing
Occupational therapy assistants work for physicians, hospitals, nursing homes, elder care facilities, home healthcare services, school systems, early intervention programs for infants and toddlers, pediatric units, mental health centers, and government agencies. Students today can look forward to dynamic careers working in multiple settings with individuals of all ages (AOTA, 2010).
A vibrant and growing profession with multiple opportunities for advancement.
Many OTAs advance into administration positions. They may manage a large occupational therapy department in a hospital or act as the director for a specific department such as a hand clinic or dementia unit in a nursing home. Some assistants go on to teach classes in accredited occupational therapy assistant academic programs or lead health risk reduction classes for the elderly. Other occupational therapy assistants work in research.
A rewarding career if you have patience as well as persistence.
Successful occupational therapists know how to encourage individuals through what can sometimes be a slow and frustrating process. Interventions are client-centered and unique to each individual. Occupational therapy assistants use “occupations” that have meaning and value for the client to help improve health, well-being, and quality of life.
A career as an OTA could be right for you if you:
- Enjoy helping people
- Are interested in the human body and how it functions
- Have strong communication skills
- Have strong interpersonal skills
- Are a good problem solver
- Enjoy working with others
- Are creative and flexible
The information below reflects aggregated data from all of the Herzing University campuses that have students enrolled in the specified program in the specified time period. The information does not reflect data regarding individual campuses unless only one campus had students to report. The reporting period used to obtain this data was 7/1/2012-6/30/2013. If there were less than 10 graduates in a program, median loan debt and on-time completion data were not disclosed for that program to protect the privacy of those students. Tuition and length may vary by campus location. Ranges could not be input for tuition and length, therefore tuition and length reported are the highest tuition rates and longest program length to encompass all campuses. For information regarding specific campus tuition please refer to http://www.herzing.edu/tuition-financial-aid . For a more detailed description of how the data was calculated please refer to the Disclosure Methodology located here http://www.herzing.edu/files/2014Disclosures-Methodology.pdf .
ASSOCIATE OF SCIENCE & ASSOCIATE OF APPLIED SCIENCE IN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTING
The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certifies occupational therapy assistants through a national certifying exam. Those who pass the exam are awarded the title Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Once certified, the COTA can apply for a state license in the state he or she chooses to practice in. Not all states require an additional license and requirements vary from state to state. Please check with your state health department for these requirements.
Most states, including Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, regulate the practice of occupational therapist assistants either by licensing, registration, or certification. Eligibility requirements vary by state. Contact your state’s licensing board for specific regulatory requirements of occupational therapy assistants. In Minnesota, the applicant MUST have graduated from an accredited OTA program and passed the NBCOT exam. A fee and background check are also required. For more information go to http://www.health.state.mn.us.
Some states have additional requirements for occupational therapy assistants who work in schools or early intervention programs. These requirements may include education-related classes, an education practice certificate, or early intervention certification.