Occupational Therapist Assistant Job Description
Occupational therapist assistants work with patients who have illnesses, disabilities and diseases that impede them from accomplishing everyday activities. Under the direction of occupational therapists, the assistants set up equipment to be used during therapeutic exercises and transport patients to and from the exercise areas.
Occupational therapist assistants work with therapists to develop therapeutic treatment plans and then work with patients to implement the plan. Examples could include working with autistic children in managing everyday activities, helping injured workers to find ways or working around lost motor skills, or helping an elderly person with Parkinson’s disease to handle every day chores.
Work Environment for Occupational Therapist Assistants
Occupational therapist assistants work in a variety of environments, including hospitals, therapeutic clinics and nursing homes. In contrast with occupational therapist aides, assistants actually work more directly with patients, implementing the plans that help them deal with the loss of physical abilities due to illness, disease and disability.
While the details can vary depending on the location of the job and the guidelines of the occupational therapist directing their work, an assistant’s job description typically includes everyday duties such as:
• Helping patients with correctly completing their therapeutic exercises.
• Working with children who have developmental disabilities, helping them to develop coordination through play activities.
• Providing training on how to use special equipment.
• Handle administrative tasks such as tracking patients progress, handling office administrative tasks and delivering patient reports to occupational therapists.
Employment and Pay Outlook For Occupational Therapists
The number of occupational therapist assistants is expanded to expand at a tremendous rate this decade. The number of people in the field will increase 43% by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects that the large and aging baby boom population will require more medical services such as occupational therapy as they remain active in their later years. Occupational therapists will also look to employ more assistants, according to the BLS, to cut down on the cost of therapy services. For example, once the therapist has developed a plan for a patient, the assistant can work with the patient in implementing the plan.
How to Become an Occupational Therapist Assistant
Most employers prefer occupational therapist assistants to have earned an associate’s degree in an occupational therapist assistant program. Such programs are offered through community colleges, vocational schools and some colleges and universities. The coursework in such programs typically focus on subjects such as psychology, biology and pediatric health. Part of the education for an occupational therapy assistant also includes supervised field work.
When choosing a program, make sure it has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Most states require occupational therapist assistants to be licensed. In order to be licensed, you must first graduate from an accredited class. To receive certification, you must also pass an exam offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.
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