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Occupational Therapy Assistant School

What types of programs are available to an aspiring occupational therapy assistant?

There are many programs available to students interested in pursuing a degree in occupational therapy assisting offered through both public and private colleges. Occupational therapy assistant programs are also offered through schools that specialize in allied health careers, and those that emphasize vocational programs.

Many programs offer multiple enrollment tracks allowing students to choose between full-time and part-time schooling, and many offer evening programs for those who are working to put themselves through school.

Do I need to attend an accredited occupational therapy assistant school?

In order to be eligible to take the National Board of Certification for Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)

What are the admissions criteria for occupational therapy assistant programs?

Occupational therapy assistant programs don’t typically have very strict admissions requirements.  Most programs require students to have graduated from high school, or to have completed an equivalent GED program.

Some programs do have prerequisite standards that require the incoming student to have taken courses in biology, anatomy and physiology, and to have a specified minimum grade point average. In some cases, pre-entrance examinations must be passed to demonstrate practical knowledge of these admission eligibility requirements.


What types of courses are included in occupational therapy assistant programs?

The first half of an occupational therapy assistant program is generally oriented around introduction to the field of occupational therapy.  This would involve gaining familiarity with the terminology, the patients with whom an OTA would work and the therapeutic principles an OTA would incorporate into daily practice.  These programs will also include courses that introduce students to normal function and movement, human development and psychology in the context of occupational therapeutic intervention.

In the second half of an OTA program, courses become more challenging and teach more advanced therapeutic principles including kinesiology, which is the study of human movement. This latter half would also include coursework that teaches documentation principles and writing techniques, as properly recording assessment, and annotating progress throughout therapy sessions is an absolutely vital component of the therapeutic process.

Aspiring occupational therapy assistant students should also expect courses on ethics in medical practice, as well as professional considerations in the field of occupational therapy.


Do I work with patients while training to become an occupational therapy assistant?

Definitely! Occupational therapy assistant jobs are very hands on. Helping people perform acts of self-care and facilitating the process by which a patient re-learns lost or impaired abilities requires these professionals to be up-close and personal with the clients and patients they’re serving. As a result, there are rigorous fieldwork requirements established by OTA programs.

An occupational therapy assistant will complete sixteen weeks of fieldwork through the course of their education. These field positions are broken up into several blocks, and are assigned in various locations so that students get the benefit of working with a variety of clinical populations.

Clinical rotations OTA students participate in early in their training are oriented more towards observation and service delivery under the direct supervision of an occupational therapist, while rotations that students participate in as their training progresses are more demanding.  These advanced training rotations require students, as directed, to begin assuming larger caseloads while performing all the duties that an OTA would be expected to perform in a professional setting, including documenting assessments, writing reports, and collaborating with other team members.


Can I take occupational therapy assistant classes online?

Given the hands-on nature of the occupational therapy assistant program and the large portion of fieldwork that is essential to the program, there are no fully web-based programs available that meet the ACOTE accreditation requirements. However, more and more programs are beginning to offer some of the lecture classes through an online format, and at many colleges, prerequisite courses that do not have a lab component may be taken online.

Occupational Therapist Assistant Schools