Never underestimate the impact an occupational therapy career can have on people’s lives. For example, consider an independent study examining hospital cases of heart failure, pneumonia, and heart attack. Occupational therapy was the only tracked category that lowered re-admission rates when more money was devoted to it.
“This important study highlights just one of the many roles occupational therapy practitioners are playing in improving quality and reducing healthcare costs,” says Fred Somers, executive director, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). “Occupational therapy practitioners are proving to be an essential member of any inter-professional team, and they are successfully addressing the changing demands of the health care delivery system.”
In a hospital setting, occupational therapy practitioners collaborate closely with other in-hospital staff to match patients’ needs to the next anticipated environment. If returning home is a reasonable next step, OT practitioners advise and instruct about home safety modifications, adaptive techniques, and recommendations for medical equipment that make daily living activities easier.
Perhaps the best summation of the important link occupational therapy professionals have in helping people is its increased role in the desire for better (and more effective) healthcare.
Occupational therapy assistants serve their clients as coaches, friends, and full-time encouragers. That’s why soft skills like communicating effectively, constructive problem solving, adaptability, and collaboration are also essential as a “hands-on” occupational therapy assistant.
An OTA’s role in client care includes:
Sometimes the intended treatment plan will fall short because of the individual’s physical, developmental, mental, or other limitations. OTAs have the knowledge and skills to break down tasks into smaller steps or approach the task from another perspective.
(That’s why those who can apply a creative approach to therapy are perfect for an occupational therapy career!)
More than 81% of OTAs choose to earn an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S. degree), a two-year college degree consisting of 75 credit hours.
The A.A.S. in OTA degree program is highly hands-on. In addition to traditional classwork, there’s time devoted to collaborative group projects, practice in simulated living labs, and having question-and-answer sessions with OTAs working in the profession.
As early as the second term, OTA students begin learning hands-on techniques for various client scenarios.
Near the end of the 2-year program, students move on to Level I and Level II fieldwork. There, OTA students see how OTAs help their clients in real-world scenarios. After that, under the guidance of trained OTA evaluators, OTA students begin applying the skills and knowledge learned in real-life client situations.
Are You ‘Taylor-made’ for the OTA Degree?
Ask OTA program directors, and they’ll say OTAs who do well in this profession have specific personality qualities:
The career-matching resource Job Network says those working directly with OT clients develop a unique patient-provider relationship: “They get to watch their clients do something today they couldn’t do yesterday.”
In fact, here’s what OTA student Taylor G. says about his career choice: “If you’re like me – you find pleasure in helping improve people’s lives from every walk of life – the OTA program is the right place.”
Of all OT roles, occupational therapy assistants appear to be the biggest need. As of September 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a 35% job growth over the next decade. Newly certified OTAs average about $45-$47,000 per year. The online BusinessInsider article, “25 highest-paying jobs you can get with an associate degree,” places OTAs at #16.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a private, nonprofit healthcare-focused university offering an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S degree) in Occupational Therapy Assistant.
CUKC links the teaching and learning process used by occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to ensure a high-quality educational experience.
Other features of our OTA degree program:
For more about our 2-year OTA degree, connect with a CUKC advisor and receive this free eBook: Your Complete Guide to an Occupational Therapy Assistant Career.