Occupational therapy is one of the most critical professions for helping people recover from a variety of health problems. This growing, diverse career is needed in various practice areas and settings – hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, and more. Not only is occupational therapy incredibly rewarding work, it is also one of the fastest tracks to entering the medical field. Whether you’d like to switch careers or dive into the health care world, becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) may be the perfect path for you.
Much like most health care roles, becoming an OTA is all about helping others. And while the Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluates and develops treatment plans for clients/patients, it is the Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA) who puts those plans into action, working one-on-one with patients. Therefore, you should have a passion for working with others and a serious interest in health and wellness before becoming an OTA. Do you think you have what it takes?
First, it’s important to know all that is involved in an OTA career. What is their day-to-day like, and what does the Occupational Therapy Assistant job description entail? How do you become a certified Occupational Therapy Assistant today?
Starting with the Basics: The Occupational Therapy Assistant Job Description
Many people who experienced an injury, illness, or disability have trouble performing daily tasks. It is the job of Occupational Therapy Assistants to help patients overcome these day-to-day challenges. OTAs are directly involved in providing therapy to patients, while working under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist. They work in a variety of settings including, hospitals, schools, outpatient, skilled nursing, and mental health facilities. This is no standard desk job. OTAs spend much of their work day on their feet, setting up equipment and providing therapy to patients.
Occupational Therapy Assistants collaborate with Occupational Therapists to develop and carry out a treatment plan for each individual patient in need. OTAs also monitor activities and therapy assignments to make sure that patients are doing them correctly. They record each patient’s progress and provide feedback to the Occupational Therapist to keep the patient moving in the right direction.
There is so much more to the daily work of an Occupational Therapy Assistant. Some day-to-day duties include:
- Helping patients do therapeutic activities, such as stretches and other exercises
- Leading children who have developmental disabilities in play activities that promote coordination and socialization
- Encouraging patients to complete activities and tasks
- Teaching patients how to use special equipment—for example, showing a patient with Parkinson’s disease how to use devices that make eating easier
- Recording patients’ progress, reporting to Occupational Therapists, and carrying out other administrative tasks
Daily responsibilities, of course, depend on the specific facility or specialty you’re in. If you are working in a hospital, you may find yourself working with patients recovering from sports or work-related injuries. If you are in a nursing home, you will be working with elderly patients who are struggling with physical limitations such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or injuries as a result of bone frailty.
If you’re considering a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of opportunities for you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects this field to grow 29 percent over the next several years – much faster than the average for all other occupations! Many of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program graduates from Goodwin College have found careers in:
- Alternative Community Settings
- Assisted Living Facility
- Nursing Homes
- Rehabilitation Centers
How to Get Started
To become an Occupational Therapy Assistant, your first step will be finding a postsecondary OTA Program, like the one at Goodwin College. OTAs must have an Associate degree from an accredited Occupational Therapy Assistant school before entering the field.
In Connecticut, Occupational Therapy Assistants must complete at least 8 weeks of fieldwork, gaining hands-on work experience, before landing a career. Connecticut also requires that OTAs hold a license to practice in a healthcare setting. This can be earned by passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination, which will officially name you a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
Students at Goodwin College gain that much-needed hands-on experience, and prepare for the NBCOT examination, through:
- Training in activities of daily living
- Fabrication of splints
- Adapting home, work, and school environments
- Vocational training
- Therapeutic use of functional activities
As part of your clinical work at Goodwin, you will learn from experienced, practicing Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants within a variety of health care and community settings. And, upon graduation from Goodwin College’s COTA program, you will be immediately eligible to sit for the NBCOT exam.
Learn more about the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Goodwin College and see how we can help you qualify for the complete Occupational Therapy Assistant job description. Contact us at 1-800-889-3282 or visit Goodwin’s website today.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.