There’s nothing like a one-on-one interview to show the excitement of someone’s story, especially when they’ve found a career that perfectly matches their personality and life goals. One person who found her ideal career direction? McKinsey M. How did she get there? By earning a 2-year Occupational Therapy Assistant degree.
Here’s part of an interview with McKinsey, who completed her 2-year OTA degree in 2021 at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC).
“I was a nursing major at first. Then I realized I wanted to work with people on a more personal level. I was looking at physical therapy and occupational therapy. I really liked occupational therapy assistant because you do have a more personal interaction with clients, and you treat them not only physically but also mentally. And that’s pretty much what drew me to it.”
When it came to deciding where to get your OTA degree, what made you say, “Wow, this is the right program for me!”
“What really drew me to my OTA program was how the classes were set up. When learning about mental health issues, we were also doing clinical experiences in mental health. I liked that because it gave me the opportunity to figure out what kind of people I wanted to work with and get some experience with that.
I was also interested in working in mental health, which OTAs do. I know a lot of people, and including some friends, who suffer from anxiety and depression.”
You must have experienced a strong connection during your campus tour. What impressed you?
“I had talked to a couple of other schools. For one of them, the website was very confusing. When I tried to figure out who to call, I was referred back to the website. In another place, the staff wasn’t as helpful as I needed. Then, when I came here and started talking to the OTA program director and the people in admissions, they were very welcoming.”
What was a significant factor in choosing the occupational therapy assistant degree?
“I’m very much a hands-on learner, and there is a lot of hands-on learning here. I really liked how our teachers brought in people to speak with us. We actually talked with other OTAs! Another example is that we worked with someone whose legs were paralyzed. We were able to speak with him and see what his life was like.
I also really liked that if you didn’t understand something in a class or lab, we’d stop and focus on that. You could tell the OTA instructors wanted you to succeed.”
You may see yourself thinking as McKinsey did. A degree where you’re helping people live their best possible lives despite personal challenges is, well, precisely what you want to do. Can you do it? Is it right for you?
Like McKinsey discovered, choosing the right 2-year OTA program is worthwhile, and OTA classes are doable. (Check out this blog.)
Because of the demand for OTAs, salaries can be equivalent to some jobs requiring a four-year degree. Over the next decade, the projected growth for OTAs is 36%, and in the U.S.News/Money annual survey, occupational therapy assistants are in the top-15 of “best health care support jobs.”
Personal Qualities of an Effective OTA
Ask OTA program directors, and they’ll say OTA students need to have several personal qualities beyond that deep-down desire to help others.
To know if an OTA career is for you, ask yourself these questions:
If you said “yes” way more than “no,” you probably should take a good look at earning your 2-year occupational therapy assistant degree. You can discover more about OTA coursework here and learn about the program’s extensive client-focused fieldwork experiences here.
The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree from Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a two-year degree program leading to a career as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). CUKC is a nonprofit, private chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas.
The occupational therapy assistant program at CUKC is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The design of our OTA program uses insights from practicing occupational therapy professionals and employers.
Our program includes prerequisite and required classes, 16 core OTA courses, and the needed Level I and Level II fieldwork. The coursework is presented in eight-week segments to immerse students in their class subjects, and mastery of skills and knowledge is enhanced through the use of our on-campus simulated living quarters lab space.
Class sessions start in spring, summer, and fall.