You’ve likely seen the results from occupational therapy practitioners on children and adults with developmental, emotional, sensory, return-to-work, or injury- and age-related challenges. You just haven’t seen the behind-the-scenes work these healthcare professionals are doing. You also may not know the specialist who’s helping to make it happen is an occupational therapy assistant – an OTA.
You can be sure, though, the families of thousands of children and adults are appreciative of the profession. (See how OTAs improve lives in this blog.) That might lead you to think about your career path. “Do I have what it takes to become an OTA?”
Do You Know What OTAs Do?
As you can imagine, OTAs have to be multi-talented, because they are the ones doing one-on-one therapy with clients of nearly any age or background:
In an occupational therapy assistant program, you’ll be trained for situations you’ll encounter after you’re in the OTA workforce.
Benefits of an Occupational Therapy Assistant Program
Those who get deep satisfaction from helping people feel better, do more, or live more comfortably than they ever thought possible, often find themselves checking out an occupational therapy assistant program.
And according to industry reports from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), more than 50% of students interested in an occupational therapy assistant career choose the two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree as the path to get there. That’s right – a healthcare-focused career in just two years, not four.
The A.A.S. degree in occupational therapy assistant puts all the knowledge and skills for an OTA career into accelerated, integrated class/lab coursework. In fact, you’re often able to immediately apply the principles and strategies from class in practice sessions or simulated home/apartment scenarios. Best of all, an OTA program includes extensive, guided fieldwork experiences.
Where Do You Rate for These 7 Abilities?
If you like the idea of being an occupational therapy assistant – someone who is a natural encourager and wants to see the results of their work every day – see how well you match with these seven OTA abilities.
1. Sensory Acuity
Occupational therapy assistants need to be keen observers. Good eyesight (with glasses or contacts) helps future OTAs interpret a client’s facial expressions, muscular tension, manual dexterity, etc.
A good sense of hearing and the ability for active listening are also essential. Engaging with others will provide you with the feedback necessary to complete or modify therapies for progress toward a client’s goals.
Spatial reasoning (understanding cause and effect) and a talent for creativity are also key for OTAs. An occupational therapy assistant program introduces you to all kinds of tactics and tools that will allow you to modify or adapt a client’s environment for positive results.
2. Written and Verbal Communication
OTAs must have the ability to communicate clearly and accurately with their clients. They also must be able to explain what they do and observe when they are providing progress reports to other healthcare team members.
3. Multi-tasker, Prioritizer
OTAs must be able to engage in multiple tasks. Assignments may include alternating your focus quickly from one feature of therapy to another.
One aspect of a comprehensive occupational therapy assistant program is delivering instruction on organizing concepts, schedules, materials, and the workspace. Instructors with experience as an OTA can sharpen your talents for decision-making and problem-solving.
4. Physical Strength
Being an OTA is an active occupation. You’ll want to have adequate body strength and endurance to sustain an effective work level on a full-time basis. Sometimes you’ll be called on to assist moving someone to a different position or to adjust or move adaptive equipment.
5. Coordination and Creativity
Finger dexterity, eye-hand coordination, balance are important for performing (or teaching) various tasks during your time with clients.
6. Professional Behaviors and Work Ethic
An OTA is in a client-first occupation. Core values include integrity, punctuality, a positive work attitude, collaboration, and the capacity to work with persons of diverse ages and backgrounds.
7. Emotional Stability, Empathy Skills
OTAs have empathy with their clients, yet can manage emotional and physical stress levels while making therapy progress.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree at CUKC
The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant degree from Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a two-year degree program leading to a career as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). The University is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused higher-education institution located in Overland Park, Kansas.
The occupational therapy assistant program at CUKC uses insight from practicing occupational therapy professionals and employers.
The CUKC program includes prerequisite classes, 16 core OTA courses, and the required Level I and Level II fieldwork. The coursework is presented in eight-week segments to immerse students in their class subjects.
The CUKC Occupational Therapy Assistant program has classes starting in fall, summer, and fall.
Request more information today. Better yet, go ahead and download the free CUKC ebook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.