What Does An Occupational Therapist Assistant Do On A Daily Basis?
If you want to provide therapeutic activities to patients without undergoing the extensive educational requirement needed to become to an occupational therapist, you can consider becoming an occupational therapy assistant. In this profession, you will be working with occupational therapists in formulating and carrying out a treatment plan for clients. You will be aiding them in these activities, such as when they perform their stretches and other exercises designed to help them recover so they can lead normal lives.
For instance, you will be teaching a patient suffering from Parkinson’s disease how to utilize devices that will simplify the eating process. You could also be working with injured workers, helping them regain or if this is not possible, find ways to substitute, the motor skills that were damaged while they were doing their jobs. You will also be working with children with developmental disabilities, leading them in activities that improve coordination and encourage socialization.
Since you will be assisting an occupational therapist, you will also be performing administrative functions such as recording the patient’s progress for a particular treatment plan. In the event that no improvement is seen based on your monitoring, the occupational therapist may formulate a new treatment plan.
Occupational therapy assistants also work together with occupational therapy aides in helping patients. They are typically limited to simpler tasks such as preparing and cleaning up equipment and treatment areas and transferring patients. Clerical duties, such as setting up appointments and answering phone calls and helping patients fill up billing and insurance forms correctly, are also taken care of by occupational therapy aides.
As an occupational therapy assistant, you need to have compassion for people. Your patients are those who are challenged in doing activities that we often take for granted. As such, you need to understand them and share their frustration. You also need to develop excellent interpersonal skills since you need to patients to follow the exact procedure you say for therapy to be effective. You also need to possess a fair amount of strength and be physically fit as you will be assisting patients, lifting and running after them, in the course of your duties.
One reason to become an occupational therapy assistant is the satisfaction of knowing that you are part of a healthcare team that gives patients the chance to recover from injury and lead normal lives as much as possible. You also help children with developmental problems communicate their needs and give them the opportunity to cope in society in spite of their condition.
Another reason to pursue this career is because it still enables you to work the field of occupational therapy without going through the lengthy educational process required of occupational therapists. As a rapidly-growing occupation, there are also more work opportunities for aspiring occupational therapy assistants in the coming years. It also provides decent pay.
Healthcare providers will also hire more assistants to help bring down the cost of occupational therapy services. An occupational therapist will only need to come up with a treatment plan after seeing the patient and the assistant will be responsible for carrying the prescribed treatment and tracking the patient’s progress.
If you are still in high school and intend to pursue a career as an occupational therapy assistant, it is highly recommended that you take up classes in health, biology and physical education. It would also be a good idea to start volunteering in a nursing home or in the office of an occupational therapist or physical therapist. This will not only give you an idea of what the work is like but will also make it easier for you to be admitted to a community college or technical school where you can enroll in an occupational therapy assistant program.
The formal educational entry point for this career is an associate degree in an occupational therapy assistant program. These are typically two-year programs that cover courses in biology, psychology and children’s health. In addition to classroom instruction, occupational therapy assistant students must also finish at least 16 weeks of fieldwork so they can get real experience about the job. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education has accredited 162 occupational therapy assistant programs, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
After graduating from the program, occupational therapy assistants must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam so they can hold the designation as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, a certification that is required to work in most states.
Career Spotlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapy assistants help patients improve and develop the skills needed for daily living. They work directly with patients, providing them with therapy. They work under the direction of an[...]