Ever feel like you have unique talents but aren’t sure where you could best use them? Jeanne Boone knows that feeling. She liked being a preschool teacher in a hospital’s child development center, but she believed she could do more to make a difference. Where did she find the right fit? She entered a 2-year occupational therapy assistant program and became a certified occupational therapy assistant–an OTA.
What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?
Those who see themselves as natural teachers and encouragers make terrific candidates for an occupational therapy assistant program. OTAs carry out the day-to-day therapies needed to help people of all ages.
OTAs assist clients with
Simply put, graduates of an occupational therapy assistant program are the ones helping others live as independently as they possibly can and achieve their best possible life. Often, they accomplish both goals.
Here are some real-life applications where graduates of an occupational therapy assistant program provide tremendous value.
In summary, OTAs meet clients where they are and help take them where they want to go.
Today, Jeanne is Helping Prepare OTA Students for the Workforce
Jeanne used her OTA degree to help clients for more than 17 years. Still, she believed she could do more, like taking a more active role in showing others how to become an OTA.
Today, she’s an OTA fieldwork coordinator for Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Cleveland University-Kansas City.
“The goal of teaching was always part of my plan when I began my OTA program,” she says. “I became an OTA educator about six years ago. It’s good for 2-year OTA degree students to have a faculty member who has been where they are.”
OTA students earn an A.A.S. degree. This degree type concentrates all necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities into a college degree covering 75 credit hours.
Thanks to an intensive, highly focused set of courses, most students in an A.A.S. degree program graduate in less than two years. Is it effective? More than 81% of OTAs who like direct patient care get this degree.
The two-year OTA degree immerses students in several ways:
As early as the second semester, OTA students begin learning the hands-on techniques to help clients achieve their life goals.
At the end of an occupational therapy assistant program, students move to the distinctive parts of the OTA degree: Level I and Level II fieldwork. Fieldwork experiences meet standards set by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
First, OTA students see how OTAs work with clients in various settings.
“Level I Fieldwork courses are paired with on-campus, practice-specific courses to facilitate greater acquisition and development of knowledge and skills,” Boone says. “The three Level I Fieldwork courses each includes a combination of classroom preparation and reflection as well as off-campus experiences at fieldwork sites.”
In Level II, students begin practicing the skills and knowledge they’ve learned while being guided by trained OTA evaluators.
Want more details? Learn more about Level I and Level II fieldwork expectations here.
OTAs Make an Impact in Many Different Ways (and Places)
Occupational therapy is proving beneficial and effective for people of all ages and under many different conditions. For example, studies indicate that early identification of a child’s condition can prevent more significant problems later in life.
In addition, occupational therapy contributes to better, more cost-effective healthcare. One study by health policy researchers said occupational therapy “is the only spending category” where additional funds could be associated with lower hospital readmission rates. The study looked at spending categories for three primary health conditions: heart failure, heart attack, and pneumonia.
Because of this universal fit, OTA graduates often choose a specific client area where they feel they can best contribute.
The American Occupational Therapy Association lists six emphasis areas.
6 Practice Areas of Occupational Therapy Practitioners
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. The two-year A.A.S. degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant at CUKC includes 16 core courses and four to five months of required fieldwork experience.
Our OTA degree program has achieved full accreditation by the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). CUKC presents its coursework in eight-week segments to immerse students in their class subjects.
Other features of the CUKC program:
When you want to use your caring, encouraging talents to great effect, learn more here, and receive this free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.