Occupational Therapy Assistant Career
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Occupational therapy assistants work under the authority of occupational therapists. They assist in providing rehabilitative therapy to people who have a disability or impairments, or who are recovering from an accident or injury. Their patients may need assistance either mentally or physically so that they can live life to their fullest potential and live and work as independently as possible. The assistantís role can include hands-on assistance, perhaps aiding their clients with exercises, or helping them learn to perform daily tasks. They also evaluate the patient, communicate with their family, develop a plan and goals, document the progress and also take care of billing. Occupational therapy assistants can work with people of any age. Specialization with people of a certain age, such as the elderly or children, is also possible. With advanced experience and continuing education, the occupational therapy assistant could move into a supervisory role, managing other assistants.
Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant
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Duties of the OT assistant
While it is the role of an assistant to provide support for the occupational therapist, the job and duties are no less important than an occupational therapist. The assistant will also get to know the client well. In this job, you can tailor your work with each client as you get to know them, altering your rehabilitation exercises and also your emotional support to fit the needs and personality of each client. Complicated problem solving, interventional planning, and interpersonal skills are all part of becoming an accomplished and successful assistant. In coursework and as you practice, you can learn not only occupational methods, but also principles and issues of occupational therapy, about medical ethics, and about the challenges of those who live with disabilities.
Necessary training and education
Becoming an occupational therapist will require some training and education. Most entry-level positions require an associate degree. Licensing, certificates, or registration is often required but varies by state, so you will have to check with the requirements for where you live or plan to work. The associate degree you pursue should be accredited with the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). By earning your degree from a recognized program, you will be able to take certifying exam. Coursework will include basic anatomy, medical terminology, physiology, and occupational therapy training, with focuses on pediatrics, gerontology, and disabilities. If you are still in high school, be sure to take biology and health and perhaps seek volunteer or part-time work in occupational therapy offices or similar settings.
Certification is granted by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy. Becoming a certified occupational therapy Assistant (COTA) will require passing a certification exam and meeting the exam eligibility requirements, which primarily consists of earning the accredited associate degree. While becoming certified is not required, in todayís competitive job market it will benefit you. Certification demonstrates dedication and is testament that your skills and knowledge meet national standards for the field. Joining the American Occupational Therapy Association is a good idea too for the latest developments in the field and continuing education and conference opportunities.
What does the future hold for occupational therapy assistants?
In addition to the degree and certification, you will have to enjoy working with people, have some physical strength for situations which require physical assistance, and may have to be willing to work off hours for certain physicians. The average salary for this job is $47,662, but this can vary quite a bit based on geographic location and employer. This job is projected to grow at a rate of 30% through 2018, which is on par with healthcare jobs but of course far ahead of the average job growth. If you think assisting those with disabilities to live independent lives, or helping those injured get back on track to living their lives is something that you are up for, get started on this rewarding career by finding the right accredited degree program.
To learn more about becoming an OT assistant, you can contact schools that offer related occupational therapy programs or learn more by reading the career plan discussion on becoming an OT assistant. If you are still trying to determine the right career choice, take some time to explore additional careers in health care.