Occupational Therapy Assistant - How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant

Occupational Therapy Assistant

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Occupational Therapy Assistant Job Description

 

The role of an occupational therapy assistant is to work with an occupational therapist to assist their patients in developing and recovering activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, driving and working. Employment opportunities for this career are projected to increase 41 percent faster than the average growth rate of other occupations.

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Responsibilities

 

Occupational therapy assistants work with assistants to carry out activities, and work with clients to perform exercises based on a treatment plan that is devised through collaboration with an occupational therapist. The occupational therapy assistant is responsible for monitoring their patient’s activities to make sure they are performing the tasks correctly, and to provide encouragement.

They document their patients’ progress for use by the occupational therapist. If the treatment regimen is not effective or the patient is not progressing as expected, the treatment program may be adjusted by the occupational therapist. This revision of the treatment plan is usually done in the hopes that better results will be obtained. Occupational therapy assistants are also responsible for documenting the billing of the client’s health insurance provider.

There are a number of tasks occupational therapy assistants can handle and many specialty areas. Depending on the area of focus they are responsible for:

  • Working with children

  • Assisting children to master typical childhood activities

  • Helping children with learning, playing and growing

  • Working with students who have learning disabilities

  • Assisting students with behavioral problems

  • Assisting children with disabilities, such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy

  • Assist in the recovery from traumatic injuries

  • Work with stroke victims

  • Assist patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and their families

  • Working with patients suffering with mental health problems and their families

  • Assisting patients of all ages in learning or relearning activities of daily living

  • Helping patients learn the skills needed for a specific occupation

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Skills

 

Physical Endurance

Must be able to be physical for many hours to help their patients as needed. They must be able to bend, twist, lift, crouch, kneel, push/pull, and the agility to move quickly and ensure patient safety.

Record Keeping

Must be able to collect and integrate patient histories to solve problems and develop treatments.

Emotional Stability

Must be able to handle the emotional stress of working with impaired patients in need of compassionate health care.

Multitasking

The ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks simultaneously.

Interpersonal

Must be able to interact with patients and their families regardless of background.

Reasoning

Must be able to apply facts and principles to issues to determine conclusions and solve problems. They must use knowledge and logic to find patters in injuries and determine causes and provide solutions.

Communication

Must be able to clearly convey thoughts and ideas to gauge patient's issues and convey to them the best path to treatment.

Empathy

Must be compassionate and able to empathize with a patient's pain and other difficulties. They are able to make people feel comfortable and meet them at their emotional level to humanize themselves and let people know they care.

Patience

They must understand it takes time to see results and be willing to put in that time. They also must help their clients have patience--especially if they are trying to overcome a difficult injury.

Problem Solving

Must be able to use knowledge to gauge issues and determine the best route to autonomy.

Dexterity

Must work well with your hands and be nimble. You will be put in situations where physical therapy is a must.

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Working Conditions

 

Occupational therapy assistants can find employment opportunities in private offices of occupational therapists, in hospitals, in nursing care facilities and in assisted living centers. The nature of the work done by occupational therapy assistants require they spend much of their time on their feet during the day. They are generally busy setting up equipment and/or working with their patients.

The typical work schedules of occupational therapy assistants may include evening assignments and weekend hours. This will depend on the facility and whether the occupational therapy assistant is a full-time or a part-time employee. Many health care facilities and outpatient therapy centers offer evening and weekend hours in order to accommodate their patients’ personal schedules.

 


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How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant:

 

Occupational therapy assistants must complete an associate’s degree from an accredited technical school or college to qualify for employment. Most states also require potential occupational therapy assistants to take and successfully complete a licensing exam.

 

1. Earn an Associate's Degree (2 Years)

 

You must get a two-year associate's degree by completing a program accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association. Courses vary by school, but the programs have both classroom instruction and clinical work loads. The program is designed to provide students with the skills to jump into the field after graduation. A typical course load can look like the following:

  • Biology

  • Psychology

  • Kinesiology

  • Anatomy

  • Physiology

  • Medical terminology

  • Rehabilitation

  • Occupational therapy courses

With your degree program, you will get to have hands-on-clinical-training under the supervision of a licensed Occupational Therapist. If your program doesn't provide this training, you must get a supervised internship separately, but most programs offer this training. The required length of this field work varies by state, but is at least eight weeks in duration. The practicum offered with degree programs may last longer than minimum requirements.

 

2. Earn the Required License and/or Certification

 

Once you graduate, you must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination; this exam is the Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) exam. Once you pass you can apply for state licensure which will grant you the ability to work in your area. Check with your state for the requirements. 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
01.06.2017
The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant administers specified evaluations, conducts general activity programs, and assists in implementing specific treatment programs under the guidance of a licensed Occupational Therapist. Minimum...
01.06.2017
Position Summary: Provide occupational therapy services to patients/clients who have impairments, functional limitations, disabilities, or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease, or other causes; provide...
09.30.2016
Current MS COTA Licensure; Current CPR
12.21.2015
HSL specializes in geriatric physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. Our therapists help seniors realize their full potential at all phases of life so that the senior years can be lived to their fullest. We are...
04.01.2016
The Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant is responsible for providing occupational therapy services to patients in accordance with professional and organizational standards of treatment as prescribed by the attending physician .Models...
01.20.2017
01.20.2017
I. Position Summary: Responsible for providing care to patients that have impairments, functional limitations, or disabilities, or changes in function and health status resulting from injury, or disease. Through the evaluation process,...
01.20.2017
Works under the supervision of an occupational therapist and carries out treatment programs established by the therapist. They implement a variety of occupational therapy services for patients with different injuries and diseases. These...
01.20.2017
JOB PURPOSE OR MISSION: Under the supervision of a Registered Occupational Therapist, schedules, plans and delivers prescribed occupational therapy treatments, services and home instruction to patients in such areas as daily living, functional...
06.02.2015
The Department of Rehabilitation Therapies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is looking for a Rehabilitation Assistant (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) to work weekends and/or weekday hours on a prn basis. Job Duties...
01.20.2017
- Associates degree required - Appropriate licensure is required - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required - Experience is required VCU Health System's...
12.22.2016
The COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) administers patient treatment following care plan set by the Registered Physical/Occupational Therapist. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient...
01.20.2017
The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant works under the direction of an occupational therapist to organize and carry out occupational therapy programs in the hospital for inpatients or outpatients, to facilitate the rehabilitation of the...
01.20.2017
The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant works under the direction of an occupational therapist to organize and carry out occupational therapy programs in the hospital for inpatients or outpatients, to facilitate the rehabilitation of the...
01.20.2017
Were a Little Different Our mission is clear. We bring to life a healing ministry through our compassionate care and exceptional service. We dont believe in jobs at Mercy, we believe in careers that match the unique gifts of unique...
  1. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Hendersonville, NC Pardee Hospital
    The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant administers specified evaluations, conducts general activity programs, and assists in implementing specific treatment programs under the guidance of a licensed Occupational Therapist. Minimum...
  2. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Oxford, NC Granville Health System
    Position Summary: Provide occupational therapy services to patients/clients who have impairments, functional limitations, disabilities, or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease, or other causes; provide...
  3. Occupational Therapy Assistant Greenville, MS Delta Regional Medical Center
    Current MS COTA Licensure; Current CPR
  4. Occupational Therapy Assistant Roslindale, MA Hebrew SeniorLife
    HSL specializes in geriatric physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology. Our therapists help seniors realize their full potential at all phases of life so that the senior years can be lived to their fullest. We are...
  5. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (Supplemental) Memphis, TN Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
    The Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant is responsible for providing occupational therapy services to patients in accordance with professional and organizational standards of treatment as prescribed by the attending physician .Models...
  6. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) Boise, ID St. Luke's Boise Medical Center
  7. COTA - Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Myrtle Beach, SC Grand Strand Medical Center
    I. Position Summary: Responsible for providing care to patients that have impairments, functional limitations, or disabilities, or changes in function and health status resulting from injury, or disease. Through the evaluation process,...
  8. Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (FT) - MRMC in Florence Florence, SC McLeod Health
    Works under the supervision of an occupational therapist and carries out treatment programs established by the therapist. They implement a variety of occupational therapy services for patients with different injuries and diseases. These...
  9. Certified OT Assistant (COTA) - Occupational Thera Baton Rouge, LA Baton Rouge General Medical Center
    JOB PURPOSE OR MISSION: Under the supervision of a Registered Occupational Therapist, schedules, plans and delivers prescribed occupational therapy treatments, services and home instruction to patients in such areas as daily living, functional...
  10. REHABILITATION ASSISTANT Iowa City, IA University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
    The Department of Rehabilitation Therapies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is looking for a Rehabilitation Assistant (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) to work weekends and/or weekday hours on a prn basis. Job Duties...
  11. Occ Ther Assistant Richmond, VA VCU Health System
    - Associates degree required - Appropriate licensure is required - Computer skills are required - Customer service skills are required - Excellent communication skills are required - Experience is required VCU Health System's...
  12. COTA Oklahoma City, OK INTEGRIS Health
    The COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) administers patient treatment following care plan set by the Registered Physical/Occupational Therapist. Adheres to National Patient Safety Goals as appropriate based on the level of patient...
  13. LPN Cookeville, TN Cookeville Regional Medical Center
    The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant works under the direction of an occupational therapist to organize and carry out occupational therapy programs in the hospital for inpatients or outpatients, to facilitate the rehabilitation of the...
  14. LPN Cookeville, TN Cookeville Regional Medical Center
    The Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant works under the direction of an occupational therapist to organize and carry out occupational therapy programs in the hospital for inpatients or outpatients, to facilitate the rehabilitation of the...
  15. Cert Occupational Therapy Asst (Flex) Oklahoma City, OK Mercy Hospital - Oklahoma City, OK
    Were a Little Different Our mission is clear. We bring to life a healing ministry through our compassionate care and exceptional service. We dont believe in jobs at Mercy, we believe in careers that match the unique gifts of unique...