Occupational Therapy Assistant
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) provide meaningful, client-centered interventions that promote independence and autonomy. Helping clients achieve their personal goals is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of being an occupational therapy assistant.
What can I do as an occupational therapy assistant?
Occupational therapy assistants work with adults, adolescents and children with a variety of physical, mental or developmental impairments under the supervision of a registered occupational therapist. During the course of a work day the OTA may address issues related to self-care, home management, work, play, leisure, social engagement or education. The occupational therapy assistant may educate clients and families in prevention, wellness, safety, coping strategies, adaptive equipment and techniques to assist the client with achieving the highest possible level of independence. Everyday activities are used as a therapeutic tool and are one of the unique and wonderful aspects of occupational therapy.
What characteristics and skills do I need to work in this field?
To be the most effective occupational therapy practitioner possible the OTA should be creative, resourceful, innovative, flexible, compassionate, empathetic, organized, and be an effective communicator. OTA students should have an aptitude for science and the arts, and have an interest in the health care industry.
Where can I work?
Occupational therapy assistants work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, home health agencies, schools and mental health programs.
What does Trident Technical College offer?
The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Students get hands-on training in clinical settings to develop their skills. Program graduates are able to sit for the national certification examination. Successful completion of this exam entitles the individual to practice as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA).
The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 4720 Montgomery Ln, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449, 301.652.2682 www.acoteonline.org Status: Accredited
Enrollment: The OTA program enrolls 25 students each May.
Certification and Licensure: Graduates of the program will be eligible to take the national certification examination for occupational therapy assistants administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy Inc. (NBCOT). Successful completion of this exam entitles the individual to practice as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) under the supervision of a registered occupational therapist. Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. A direct link to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) provides information regarding the OTA program pass rates for graduates attempting the national certification examination. This information may be accessed at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx.
Schedule: The professional courses begin each Summer Semester. Classes include both didactic and laboratory sessions. Classes are usually scheduled Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The OTA program cannot accept part-time students.
Faculty: The OTA program has the equivalency of two full-time instructors, a full-time program coordinator and a full-time academic fieldwork coordinator. Additional part-time faculty/guest lecturers are utilized. See Faculty and Staff.
Physical Demands: An occupational therapy assistant may need to be able to perform the following in day-to-day work situations. (Not all inclusive.)
- Remain continuously on task for 3-4 hours while standing, sitting, moving, lifting and/or bending.
- Motor skills sufficient to provide safe and effective patient care.
- Lift and move loads in excess of 50 lbs.
Clinic: Students may be exposed to patients who are critically ill, have infectious disease, mental health or behavioral disorders during clinical rotations. Open wounds, blood and body fluids may be encountered in this field. The OTA curriculum requires that each student participate in Level I and Level II clinical or fieldwork experiences. Students must complete Level II fieldwork immediately following successful completion of coursework, as is indicated on the OTA curriculum display, however in the event of extenuating circumstances OTA faculty may grant the student an extension for completion of fieldwork requirements. This extension may not exceed 12 months from course completion. The OTA program affiliates with various facilities throughout the southeast. Fieldwork assignments will be made by the OTA faculty.
Due to the limited availability of sites, there is no guarantee that a given student will be able to remain in Charleston or be placed in the location of his/her choice for clinical rotations. Fieldwork placement is evaluated on an individual basis. Each student must sign a Memorandum of Understanding in reference to this policy prior to beginning classes. The student will be responsible for arranging housing, meals, transportation and finances during these clinical rotations.
Insurance: Students must provide proof of major medical insurance. Students are required to purchase additional professional liability insurance for fieldwork experiences.
Salary: Starting salaries for new OTA graduates vary widely based upon geographic locale and site of employment (hospital, home health, private practice, skilled nursing/assisted living facilities or school system). Income in more rural areas tends to be higher than in metropolitan areas. The current state average is $41,720 to $51,940 annually.
Job Settings: Graduates of the OTA program work in a variety of settings including hospitals, home health agencies, private practices, skilled nursing/assisted living facilities, outpatient clinics and public school systems.
Student Outcomes: The total number of graduates for Trident Technical College's Occupational Therapy Assistant program during the four-year period of 2013-2016 was 85 with an overall graduation rate of 86 percent.
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