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Career Story: Occupational Therapist's Assistant

Occupational Therapist's Assistant

Job Title: Occupational Therapist Assistant

Type of Company: I work for a large non-profit rehabilitation company.

Education: AS, Science

Previous Experience: I have done rehab for the past twelve years.

Job Tasks: It's my responsibility to make sure that older people can return to their homes and take care of themselves, after being discharged from the hospital: that they can bathe, dress, make themselves food and get around the house by using as a walker.

I often start my day by visiting a person who's just had a stroke. This patient would normally need some assistance, both getting out of bed and then walking. I would show him how to use a walker to get from the bed to his wheelchair, but I might need to use a hands-on assist because his legs were so weak. Once I got him sitting, I would start to instruct him on how to get dressed with one hand. (With stroke victims, one hand is typically paralyzed.) Explanations of this sort are a big part of occupational therapy.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing the progress that a lot of patients make: seeing a stroke patient walk again and patients being motivated for their daily therapy.

The worst parts of the job are having Medicare tell you how many minutes you can spend with a patient...and all the gossip and paperwork too.

Job Tips:
1. You learn so much from your clinicals. Pay attention.

2. Ask questions of an older therapist.

3. When you're just starting out, make sure to work in a big rehabilitation facility.

4. Stay organized.

Additional Thoughts: What I loved about my field is that you can go into a variety of settings and you don't have to stay in one field. OT offers work in schools, private homes, nursing homes, acute care facilities and more. The schedule is also great. You can work per-diem and on weekends.

I am currently a COTA, and I have no regrets about not getting my OTR. The big difference is not being able to do evaluations.

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