Need a reason to jump into an in-demand, career? How about 76 million reasons? Yes, more than 76 million baby boomers today over age 50 are entering a time when they will need more care for age-related conditions, disorders, and diseases. You can be on the front line of help by considering an associate degree in healthcare as an occupational therapy assistant – an OTA.
Today’s seniors will need healthcare services of all types, including primary care, chiropractic and medical, diagnostic imaging, physical therapy, and the varied and comprehensive services provided by today’s occupational therapy professionals – including emotional and mental health wellness.
Mental Wellness is Often Neglected
It may be surprising to know occupational therapy professionals like occupational therapists (OTs) and their teammates, occupational therapy assistants (OTAs), are active in the mental health of a community. (Learn about the six practice areas of occupational therapy here.)
In fact, the origins of occupational therapy are rooted in mental healthcare, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Increasingly, services for those with mental and emotional challenges have moved from the hospital environment to the community.
You see, occupational therapy practitioners consider the environment and the current and future abilities needed for clients’ desired tasks. That means OT pros help people of all ages meet the challenges of emotional, developmental, and mental difficulties. Because of their comprehensive wellness knowledge, OT practitioners often work with specialists in other fields to coordinate care.
Here are three examples of where OTAs, who carry out the recommended occupational therapy plans, can improve emotional and mental health:
1. Examining the need for inpatient psychiatric care
Not taking prescribed medications can be why someone is sent to an inpatient psychiatric unit. An OTA might be involved in setting a short-term plan to determine what prevents the client from taking the correct medications. If the person has a complicated med schedule, the OTA could demonstrate using a per-day pillbox, set up a schedule to follow, and make a pill identification chart.
2. Discovering conditions affecting worksite performance
Those with emotional conditions might be struggling with meeting standards in a work environment. The OT team might discuss the skills needed with the employer or co-workers, determine what is affecting the job performance, and offer solutions that accommodate the employee and the employer.
3. Widening a client’s safety net
Occupational therapy interventions carried out by OTAs can include the areas of self-care and accessing services and support available within the client’s community. OTAs can also educate and work with family or caregivers as part of an overall plan for the client’s success in living life to its fullest.
The career outlook for OTAs will increase by more than 30% from 2020 to 2030, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2021. Salaries for OTAs are also competitive. The median OTA salary for working OTAs is $59,589, according to wage data collected by Salary.com, and newly certified OTAs typically earn more than $45,000 to start.
In addition to the senior adult population’s growth, occupational therapy is proving to be valuable in a wide variety of work settings:
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC serves students seeking careers in the chiropractic and health sciences.
When you’re ready to consider an associate degree in healthcare, explore CUKC’s Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program. In this two-year program, OTA courses are delivered in sequential 8-week modules year-round. The degree program includes four to five months of required fieldwork experience, which ensures mastery of essential OTA skills and knowledge.
Other features of this unique and needed associate degree in healthcare:
Connect with an advisor today to learn about this associate degree in healthcare, and download the free CUKC eBook about the OTA profession: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.