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Occupational Therapist Assistant
What Does an Occupational Therapist Assistant Do?
Occupational therapy is the rehabilitation of patients to help them perform routine and daily activities so that they may enjoy a better quality of life. Occupational therapist assistants are responsible for carrying out the therapy plans put in place by the occupational therapist. For example, if an occupational therapist develops a plan to rehabilitate an injured worker to compensate for his motor skill loss, it is up to the occupational therapist assistant to help that patient adhere to the prescribed treatments and methods of rehabilitation. Occupational therapy assistants also perform routine duties such as helping patients eat, tie their shoes, move from a wheelchair to a bed, and many other tasks that must be done. They also keep detailed records of how a patient is progressing, informing the head therapist if no progress is being made. This way, the occupational therapist will remain up-to-date on the patient’s developments.
What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for an Occupational Therapist Assistant?
The health care industry is one of the strongest industries in the work force today. No matter the political issues being debated or what state the economy is in, there will always be a need for health care professionals due to the complexity of treating the human body. In addition, the unpredictability of illness and the inevitability of aging bolster health care’s importance and job stability. As the worldís population increases, this demand will only heighten. In addition, the rising number of elderly people makes occupational therapy in particular more valuable than ever as these patients have a real need for assistance with their more sensitive and frail bodies. Employment opportunities for occupational therapist assistants are expected to grow an astounding 30 percent by 2018, which is much faster than the national average job growth rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational therapist assistants earn an average of $48,230, according to the most current information available from the Bureau.
How Can I Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant?
Those looking to become an occupational therapist assistant need to first earn an associate degree from an occupational therapist assistance program that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). ACOTE has a recognized standard for accredited assistance programs that employers trust, making their approved programs the national standard for all occupational therapist assistants. The associate program typically lasts about two years, during which time students take courses in physical disabilities, mental health, gerontology, and other classes that are designed to prepare students for a successful career in occupational therapy. Before receiving their degree, students must also participate in outside clinical work in order to gain hands-on experience working alongside professionals. Licensure, certification, or registration is required by most states, though each state varies in regulation. Most certification programs require occupational therapist assistants to take part in continuing education programs to ensure that they stay up-to-date in the field.