When your core talents are showing empathy, encouraging others in challenging situations, developing trusting relationships, and having a flair for teaching, an occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree program may be a perfect career fit.
Before they knew about OTA, some current practitioners thought their passion for caring could only lead to more mainstream medical professions like a doctor or nurse. When students learn about the occupational therapy field and what occupational therapy assistants do, there’s excitement about becoming an OTA.
Here are four reasons students often point to for their interest in the OTA degree:
The first thing to know is that occupational therapy assistants spend their day working with people. The clients OTAs interact with face various conditions. All of them are seeking their best possible life.
These conditions include age or injury-induced problems, mental/emotional issues, and life-affecting developmental, physical, and sensory processing diagnoses. Here’s a look at three examples.
OTAs Help Children Cope, Adjust, and Achieve
For example, an OTA can help a child with age-related developmental delays learn basic daily activities such as choosing their clothes, getting dressed, staying on task for school assignments, and participating in social activities with friends and classmates.
Research shows that addressing challenges as soon as possible gives kids the tools and strategies for success, leading to increased self-confidence in what they can accomplish.
OTAs Help Senior Adults Reach Their Goals
Another example of how OTAs help is their work with the nation’s rapidly growing senior adult population. Today’s seniors want to live as independently as they can for as long as they can.
Together with their occupational therapist supervisor, OTAs help assess living conditions and personal capabilities and recommend personalized strategies that allow seniors to live their best lives safely.
OTAs can introduce adaptive devices and suggest home modifications. In addition, OTAs also work with a client’s family members or caregivers to participate in the recommended therapy activities.
OTAs Help in Rehabilitation
A third example is how occupational therapy assistants can help those recovering from injuries or surgeries.
Because of their whole-person view of rehabilitation, OTAs often work with other healthcare practitioners to ensure progress toward physical recovery. OTAs also help clients manage the mental or emotional issues that come with the rehabilitation efforts.
In one independent study by health policy researchers, spending more on occupational therapy services proved a significant factor in lowering hospital readmission rates. The study researched patients under treatment for heart failure, pneumonia, and heart attack.
There are other examples, of course, such as teaching the strategies people need when they face conditions and diseases that can range from diabetes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What OTAs Say About the Profession
One way to think about what OTAs do is that they are an essential link to help clients go from “I want to do this” to saying, “Yes, I am doing this!”
Bamlaku K. was seeking a rewarding career in healthcare when he discovered the benefits of earning a two-year OTA degree. He says he realized that becoming an OTA would allow him to work directly with clients in one-on-one scenarios.
“I also liked the fact that it’s a program you could finish quickly and then get straight into work,” “Bam,” says. “If I later plan to go all the way up to the occupational therapy degree (OT), then I have that opportunity.”
Megan N.’s takeaways about choosing an occupational therapy assistant degree were equally positive.
“It was really appealing to me,” she says. “I liked and understanding how to help with different diagnoses and having those different client options.”
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. CUKC offers an applied science degree you can earn in as little as two years: the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
Beyond the class and lab time that introduces knowledge and client skills, our OTA degree helps ensure career confidence via classes, demonstrations, guest speakers, technique practice, and a supervised multiple-month fieldwork experience. The hands-on, client-focused fieldwork is part of the program! (Learn more about the extensive OTA fieldwork here.)
Other features of the OTA degree program at CUKC:
To learn more about the OTA degree at CUKC, request information today. Get information about the profession with this free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.