The impulse to help people overcome difficulties is universal, which is contributing to the explosive growth of occupational therapy careers. Those whose lives are improved through occupational therapy (OT) represent every race, ethnicity, and culture. The new understanding of OT’s value in enhancing lives is leading to increased demand for OT and OTA students who are equally diverse – and that includes a need for males, especially in the OTA profession.
The OTA Need, Explained
The number of occupational therapy practitioners grew 30 percent in the last 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career outlook for those with an OTA degree is projected to increase by another 26 percent between 2016 and 2026.
The rapid increase in the number of senior adults and longer life expectancies are driving those numbers, yet that’s just part of the story of occupational therapy careers. The profession is proving itself useful in helping children and youth, too. Occupational therapy can help with restricted or delayed advancement, as well as social, sensory, and emotional conditions.
The extensive use of OT is a big reason those who work one-on-one with clients – the OTAs – are in such demand. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs has also expanded its use of occupational therapy to help improve the lives of wounded and injured veterans. Today, the VA is the largest single employer of occupational therapy practitioners.
Occupational therapy is also shown to be cost-efficient. For patients suffering from heart failure, pneumonia, and heart attacks, a 2016 study by Johns Hopkins Universityconcluded that occupational therapy was the only hospital spending category where additional spending showed a statistically valid impact on lowering hospital readmission rates.
What OTAs Do That Makes a Difference
The occupational therapist (OT) and the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) have distinct roles. An OT develops and leads the treatment plan. An OTA observes, assists, and encourages the client. OTAs can also make some modifications to the treatment plan as needed to ensure progress is being made toward the therapy goals. (Go here for more about how the roles of Occupational Therapists and OTAs differ.)
Occupational therapy plans are highly personalized. A few examples that illustrate an OTA’s involvement:
You’re Needed for an Occupational Therapy Career
Just as the health care delivery system is changing for the better, so must the current make up of OT practitioners.
Among today’s OTA degree seekers, the need for more diversity is evident when examining the student population. According to a recent annual report from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA):
OTA degree-seeking students also are 76 percent female, and OT organizations like the AOTA say they’d like to get more men into OTA roles. In the end, gender doesn’t matter. Individuals with challenges want occupational therapy practitioners who care and are willing and able to help.
Those who have chosen this occupational therapy career understand that earning an OTA degree is worthwhile. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks the OTA career #8 on their Best Health Care Support Jobs list of 2018 and it even appears on The 100 Best Jobs list.
Start Your Occupational Therapy Career as an OTA
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, health-care focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas. The two-year Associate of Applied Sciences (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program at CUKC includes 16 core courses along with four-to-five months of fieldwork experience. Coursework is presented in eight-week segments to immerse students in their class subjects.
At Cleveland University-Kansas City, the OTA degree program
Connect with an advisor today to get more details, or download the free ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.