Students seeking an occupational therapy assistant career are entering one of the most in-demand health care roles available today. Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) are uniquely suited to help meet the diverse needs of special populations: children, youth, recovering workers, and senior adults. OTAs also have the skill set to help veterans returning from the armed forces to realize their best possible future. Think of it this way: As an OTA, you can become a hero to America’s heroes.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Career: Veterans
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) operates one of the largest integrated health care systems in the world. Its mission is providing programs and services to meet the needs of returning veterans throughout their lifetime. The VA operates facilities in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
As a result of this commitment, occupational therapy for veterans is provided to improve, maintain, or restore functions that were lost or diminished during their armed forces service because of
OTAs can receive specialized training to provide occupational therapy for veterans. Unlike other special populations, veterans are more likely to have a combination of needs, including recovery from wounds or injuries, loss of hearing, or other issues stemming from high-stress, unpredictable situations. OTAs work with veterans daily and often have a direct impact on improving their long-term health and the health of their family relationships.
OTA Programs Are Satisfying the Need
Nearly 18 million veterans are living in the U.S. today. Occupational therapy is essential for veterans who seek to manage the ongoing details of life due to service-related physical changes or due to addiction issues, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or mental or emotional issues.
OTAs participate in primary care visits directly with providers, perform evaluations of how veterans function in their homes, complete telehealth and in-person visits, and participate in group education sessions.
To serve this special population adequately, the VA is recruiting and retaining occupational therapists (OTs) and OTAs in VA medical centers. In 2017, the VA’s occupational therapy practitioners treated more than 403,000 veterans, accounting for approximately 1.5 million appointments and evaluations.
The OTA Profession’s Future
The emphasis on OT and the need for OTAs continues to grow. The newest military spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, includes a provision slated to make OTAs (and physical therapy assistants) authorized providers for coverage under the military’s health care plans.
Nationwide, the BLS sees an overall employment growthof more than 25 percent from 2016 to 2026, nearly double the average growth for all occupations. Experienced OTAs have a national median salary for just over $59,000 annually.
Choosing an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career
Those interested in an occupational therapy assistant career usually like carrying out the details of an occupational therapy plan, rather than do the plan design and administration work of OTs.
Unlike physical therapy alone, occupational therapy considers the whole person, seeking to address not only physical challenges but also identify harmful behaviors or conditions that might be interfering with the person’s shortest-possible recovery.
What that means is that a two-year OTA program leading to an A.A. degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant puts you in a position to improve daily living for individuals. Activities you lead might include exercises to regain the dexterity needed for a new job skill, finding the best ways to move safely and confidently with a prosthetic limb, and showing the way to use new assistive technology.
For many who understand the unique service of American veterans, becoming an OTA instills a sense of pride few other occupations can deliver. Need more reasons to consider becoming an OTA? Check out this blog.
How to Begin an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, health care focused university located in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC is an ideal place to begin your health care education.
The accelerated A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a comprehensive OTA program consisting of 16 core courses and the four-to-five months of supervised fieldwork education. Our central goal is to get you ready to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
In the CUKC OTA program, you’ll be ready for an occupational therapy assistant career immediately after graduation. Hands-on instruction is the norm, aided by experienced OTA faculty and an on-campus simulated living quarters lab. Completing the OTA degree takes as little as two years.
Not sure when you’ll be set up to start school? You’ll have the choice to start in spring, summer, or fall.
Two ways to begin: Request more information here, or download our free OTA ebook and learn why becoming an OTA is so exciting: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.