What do Occupational Therapy Assistants Do?
Occupational therapy assistants work alongside occupational therapists to provide treatment to patients in hospital, nursing care and private practice settings. Many states allow assistants to perform direct programs with patients after developing treatment plans under the supervision of therapists. The main duties of an occupational therapy assistant are to encourage and help restore health to those under their care.
Occupational Therapy Assistants Skills and Abilities
Because you work with a wide range of personalities and temperaments with various mental and physical issues, skills in psychology and counseling are beneficial to get the most out of your patient’s rehabilitation. To plan curricular activities, you must have some training in teaching or curriculum design. All communication skills are important to build and maintain as you work with patients. Active listening, clear writing and speaking skills and reading comprehension skills help maintain an organized and efficient workplace. Time management skills help you balance paperwork and patient activities on a daily basis. Heavy lifting is usually a requirement of the job, so you must have physical strength and coordination.
Occupational Therapy Assistants Duties
While a patient is under your care at a rehabilitation facility, you are responsible for all aspects of their care. Under the supervision and direction of an occupational therapist, you will match patients with appropriate activities based on their specific diagnoses while maintaining an encouraging atmosphere. You will make your own records of patient progress or delegate to therapy aides recording duties. Other ways you will assist patients are as follows:
- Educate family members on home treatment, including equipment procedures and basic living skills.
- Assist patients in daily grooming and dressing activities.
- Modify treatment plans as goals are reached or better options become available.
- Collaborate with other medical professionals to develop treatment plans.
- Transport patients to various areas of the therapy facility.
- Maintain the cleanliness of therapy equipment.
- Adapt equipment to fit specific needs of a patient.
- Stay up to date by taking continuing education courses.
Occupational Therapy Assistants Tools and Technology
Therapy tools make up a large portion of the tools you use as an occupational therapy assistant. Braces, slings, transfer belts, balance beams and headpointers are used for various levels of physical incapability. For arts and crafts activities, you may use a wide range of tools, such as beads, string, clay and modeling devices. Software plays an important role in record keeping and maintaining patient files. You will use accounting software and medical records software for billing and filling out electronic paperwork.
Education and Training for Occupational Therapy Assistants
Typically, you need at least an associate’s degree from an accredited school to enter the field. Occupational therapist assistant degrees are usually necessary for legal and proficiency reasons. There is no training after hiring, so employers will look at your education to determine your abilities. Very few assistants have only obtained a high school diploma or finished some college. Many complete bachelor and master programs.
Occupational Therapy Assistants Salary
You can expect to receive a high wage no matter where you sit on the pay spectrum. The bottom 10% of the national average earn over $17.00 an hour, while the top 10 percent earn over $36.00 an hour. The middle 50% of earners make $27.00 an hour, or $57,000 per year. Nevada and Texas have the highest median rates of $34.00 an hour. In these areas, you may earn much more than the top 10 percent of earners in the nation. South Dakota’s median rate is low, only $17.00 an hour.
Occupational Therapy Assistants Jobs by Geography
There are over 43 thousand occupational therapy assistant jobs in the United States, and the number is expected to grow by 43 percent over the next several years. More than two thousand jobs are anticipated to open up to new hires every year. California, Illinois, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio offer the most opportunities in the nation, with jobs well into the thousands.