Occupational Therapist Assistant

The Occupational Therapists work under an occupational therapist’s supervision in providing the rehabilitative services to people with physical, mental, emotional and developmental impairments. Their purpose is to help improve the client’s quality of life and have the ability to perform their daily activities.

Occupational therapist assistants are helpful to clients with their rehabilitative exercises and activities outlined in the treatment plan that is developed with the collaboration of an occupational therapist. The assistants are in charge of monitoring the patient’s activities making sure they are performed correctly and to provide the encouragement they need. They are responsible for recording the patient’s progress for the occupational therapist. They also document the billing of the health insurance provider of the patient.

Occupational Therapist Assistant Education Requirements

To become an occupational therapist assistant you must attend an accredited school by ACOTE (Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education) to qualify in taking the national certification exams given for occupational therapist assistants. In 2009, there are over 135 accredited ACOTE occupational therapist assistants.

In the first year, the students have to study subjects like introduction to healthcare, anatomy, basic medical terminology, and physiology. On the second year, the courses will be more rigorous and includes topics like mental health, gerontology, pediatrics and adult physical disabilities. They are also required the completion of 16 weeks of the supervised fieldwork in a community setting or clinic.

The applicants to these programs could improve their chances of acceptance by taking their high school courses in health and biology and by volunteering for work in physical or occupational therapists’ offices, health care facilities or nursing care facilities.

What courses count towards Occupational Therapist Assistant

The typical courses taken to complete the occupational therapist assistant required education are subjects like introduction to healthcare, anatomy, physiology, basic medical terminology, mental health, pediatrics, gerontology, adult physical disabilities, biology and health.

What levels of degrees are available for Occupational Therapist Assistant

To be qualified for COTA certification, the students must:

  • Attend an occupational therapy assistant certification program for 1 year. This provides the a foundation for an entry-level job position as an OTA. This program is slowly being phased out by most academic institutions and replaced by the Associate’s degree because the job needs more work-related experience. The program coursework involves subjects like introduction to occupational therapy, pathophysiology, therapeutic skills and intervention, kinesiology and mental health.
  • Or attend an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. This program teaches students how to work beside licensed professionals to gain the hands-on clinical experience and required lectures. Graduates will have the basic understanding of the medical terminologies, patient care and human anatomy. They will be ready to pass the National OTA Certification Examination that is given by National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

What are the financial requirements to become a Occupational Therapist Assistant

The financial costs to acquire an Occupational Therapist Assistant degree may vary depending on the degree being taken, the school where the student is enrolled in, the state or location, the residency status of the student and on the other costs aside from the tuition.

One US community college offers the course at $56.50 per semester hour for its in-state residents and $248.50 for its out-of-state residents. The books cost $300, name tag $5, activity fee ranging from $7.25 to $32.50, technology fee $1 to $16, parking and security fee $10 to $20, OTA program shirt $25 and liability insurance at $15.

What the continuing education requirements for Occupational Therapist Assistant

40 US states including Guam, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico regulate the occupational therapist assistants practice by registration, licensing or certification. Additionally, every state has their own licensing requirements. You must contact the local state licensing board for the specific regulatory occupational therapist assistant requirements.

Other states may have additional occupational therapist assistants educational requirements for those employed in early intervention programs and schools. The requirements include an education practice certificate, education-related classes or the early intervention certification.

The occupational therapist assistant certification and certificates are all voluntary. The certification of the occupational therapist assistants are given by National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy thru a national certifying exam. The title of COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) is given to the one who successfully passes the test. In other states, this national certifying exam qualifies for the requirements for its regulation but in other states you have to take their own licensing exam.

These individuals will be expected to maintain their professional development by taking occupational therapist assistants continuing education workshop and courses to retain their certifications. Several states will require continuing education as one of their conditions for retaining their license.

What are the skills necessary to become a Occupational Therapist Assistant

The following Occupational Therapist Assistant qualifications are important to succeed in this position:

  1. Must be physically and mentally strong to assist patients
  2. Must have the stamina to lift patients and stand long hours and days of works in the facility
  3. Must be flexible with their time. Occupational therapist assistants may need to work part-time or full-time in their facility.
  4. Must be patient, responsible and willing to follow directions and will work as part of a team.

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