Do these three expectations fit what you're aiming for in a career choice? (1) You want to contribute to a cause bigger than yourself. (2) You want a professional skill that's personally rewarding over a lifetime. (3) You want an occupation that pays a competitive salary and is in-demand by employers. If so, it's time to think about 2-year occupational therapy assistant programs – and becoming an OTA.
Do you have a talent for connecting with people and the drive and compassion to succeed in an expanding health care career? If so, it's worth exploring occupational therapy assistant programs and seeing the value of an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree.
OTAs' Approach to Care
OTAs are different than physical therapy assistants and aides. OTAs typically have higher salaries because OTAs go beyond physical causes – they discover ways to help people struggling with emotional, developmental, cognitive and sensory issues.
OTAs adopt a whole-person approach that guides kids, teenagers, and adults to the life they want. You may be assisting a grade schooler to learn coping strategies for sudden, loud noises, or showing a senior adult recovering from hip surgery how to safely regain strength and mobility from home.
Every occupational treatment plan is highly personalized. Activities will include assessments (observations), interventions (instructional), and modifications (changes). OTAs apply their caregiving talents and instructional knowledge in many different settings:
- School districts
- Assisted care facilities
- Community organizations
- Private homes.
OTA: What AIM Looks Like
A = Assessment
The type of patient assessment varies, of course, because every client is different. In the case of someone recovering from a health condition at home, for example, you'd assess the client's capabilities to do what they say they want to do.
Through the classes and labs within occupational therapy assistant programs, you will become fluent in assessing treatments needed. You and the supervising Occupational Therapist (OT) might look at multiple factors, including:
- Range of motion
- Fine-motor coordination
- Balance/Functional Mobility.
I = Interventions
The OT team's assessment might indicate the need for interventions. For someone recovering from a hand injury, interventions could include splints, passive and active exercises, and restrictions to certain movements during the healing process.
Other types of interventions could range from teaching someone with arthritic hands joint protection strategies that allow the dexterity needed for meal preparation. For a child with a sensory issue, you might teach relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety caused by their sensory trigger.
M = Modifications
Modifications might be creating changes to personal routines or recommending physical changes to the home, such as
- Mechanical lifts and adaptive tools
- Widened doorways and hallways
- Handrails, non-slip mats, and grab bars
- Plumbing adaptations for access to shower/toilet/sink
Aiming for an Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree
An OTA degree program will have its aim to prepare you for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Certification Examination to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
How to get started? The first part of an occupational therapy assistant degree is the 24 college credit hours required in general courses like communications, psychology, and health science terminology. In some cases, previous college coursework can transfer, and OTA-interested students can also take many prerequisite courses online.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs: The 2-year Degree at CUKC
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, health-care focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC offers a two-year applied science degree known as an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant. Students at CUKC can complete the A.A.S. degree in as little as two years.
Classes and lab time for the occupational therapy assistant degree are combined with extensive fieldwork experience. This on-the-job time gets you ready for the OTA workplace, and often includes various workplace settings, from schools to rehab centers, to senior care facilities.
Click here to learn more about the CUKC 2-year occupational therapy assistant degree, or download the free CUKC ebook today: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.