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How do I Become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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If you enjoy helping people,then you may want to consider a career as an occupational therapy assistant. These professionals work with occupational therapists in order to help physically and developmentally challenged people live full lives. In order to become a certified occupational therapy assistant, candidates must first begin with proper schooling.

There are two options available for those who wish to become a certified occupational therapy assistant. A two-year associate's degree in the field of occupational therapy is the first option. Alternately, a one-year certificate from an accredited school may be completed. In some countries, a degree from a technical school is also an option.

Courses that should be focused upon during schooling include anatomy, psychology, rehabilitation, and gerontology. In addition to formal coursework, students are often asked to complete fieldwork training. This type of training includes working within a community, group home, clinic, or other medical environment. Depending upon the country that you live in, you may also be asked to complete a certification program prior to practicing.

After all schooling, field training, and certification courses have been successfully completed, candidates can then search for jobs within the therapy field. Employment within this field can be found by applying directly to hospitals, residential care homes, clinics, occupational therapist's offices, and other similar facilities.

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Aside from all of the schooling that is required in order to become a certified occupational therapy assistant, candidates must have certain personality traits. These traits include patience, understanding, compassion, and the ability to nurture distraught or distressed patients. All of these things are necessary, since the role of an assistant can be very demanding.

Occupational therapy assistants are expected to work alongside occupational therapists. In addition, assistants are often called upon to lead a patient through an entire recovery program without the constant supervision of a therapist. Thus, an assistant must be self-sufficient. Other duties include showing patients how to stretch and strengthen muscles, teaching developmentally disabled patients how to succeed within society, and keeping track of patient improvements.

Clearly, in order to become a certified occupational therapy assistant, one must be able to wear many different hats. While this job position might seem relatively straightforward, assistants are often responsible for a large workload full of tedious tasks. In the end, the best way to become a certified occupational therapy assistant is to begin with schooling, and then decide whether or not you possess the right kinds of personality skills to go along with your new degree.

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