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bluebonnetgirl

Occupational Therapy Assistant Degree

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Has anyone’s child pursued an Occupational Therapy Assistant degree?.  It is a 2 year degree with excellent pay (average $60,000) and benefits.

Our local community college will be offering this degree in 2020.  My child graduates in 2021, so good timing.

My kiddo is interested in art therapy, but that is a masters level degree and the average pay is $45,000, which is $15,000 less than on OTA , and requires more years of college.

I have read that occupational therapy assistants can utilize art therapy in their job.  True?

Would love to learn more about this degree and career.


 

 
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Edited by bluebonnetgirl

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I've seen my mom go through OT after her stroke and my son go through OT for autism/sensory issues. And I gotta say, if I could do it all over, I'd go into OT as a career. There are few jobs out there where you can say at the end of almost every day that you made a difference in someone's life and OT is definitely one of them. (I'm a big fan of all the therapies...visual rehabilitative therapy is another life-changing career. They're the folks who teach blind & visually impaired people how to live independently. Think cooking scrambled eggs, organizing clothes, etc.) 

Although I haven't pursued the career, I have seen it from the client side. I know that adult OT and pediatric OT are different. Adult OTs work on functional living skills, like putting on socks when you have no balance. Pediatric OTs work on stuff that affects your body's "spinny" senses (vestibular) and "where I am in space" senses (proprioceptive) as well as stuff like pencil grip.

My sense is that you can begin to work with clients with the 2-year degree but if you want to be the one who designs a program for a client, then you might need more schooling or certification. I just know my son had COTAs who worked with him (certified OT assistants), and they had to consult with OTR/Ls to change components of his program. It might just have been the practice we went to.

As for using art during therapy sessions - my son made drawings and collages as part of his therapy programming. There's a lot of OT that goes into being able to cut along a line, cut in a circle, trace a template, color in the lines, kneading putty/clay, etc. So, there's definitely making art in OT. I don't know much about art therapy itself so can't really speak to how much the 2 disciplines overlap, but I'm sure there's a lot. My son also received some music therapy in the form of listening to certain pieces that were altered to affect his sensory processing. I loved it because he seemed to really enjoy the music and was a lot more mellow after listening.

Hope this helps! I'm afraid I've only given you info from the client perspective but hopefully it helps you picture the job a little better. Maybe find an OT practice in your area and ask if your son can meet with some of their employees to ask about the career options?

Good luck with your research!

Edited by 2Peanuts
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2Peanuts,

Thank you for your wonderfully encouraging comments.

I think for my son, an OTA would be a good way to start out.  He can always choose to pursue OT later if he so desires.

My son was considering a degree in art therapy, but it requires 6 years of schooling vs 2 for OTA.    I’m not sure he even wants 4 years of college versus 6.  He’d rather get started with life and earning a good living sooner than later.

Im hoping OTAs could do art therapy with clients in schools or in the home. This article seems to indicate that OTAs can use art therapy.  I think my son would be great at this given his aptitude’s and interests.

https://otaonline.stkate.edu/blog/occupational-therapy-assistant-work/

My son would love to shadow an OT or OTA for a day.  Anyone know how to set that up?

DS is little concerned about the science required to get the OTA degree.  But on first glance the classes don’t look that difficult to me.  Anatomy, medical terminology, health, etc.  Not chemistry, physics, etc.

Right?

 

 

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Hopefully @8FillTheHeart will see this and chime in. I believe her DD is an OTA. I’m following because a neighbor friend’s DD is a high school junior with an interest in a health care field, but doesn’t really want to commit to a 4-year degree yet; I’ve been providing pro bono counseling/career advice for the family.

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1 hour ago, bluebonnetgirl said:

My son would love to shadow an OT or OTA for a day.  Anyone know how to set that up?

If I were doing this for my kid (and I might once she gets a little older), I would just call up an OT practice in my area & ask. The field is growing at such a fast rate, I'm sure they would love to share their knowledge with a prospective OT student. If you have any friends with kids who receive therapy, start there. Any kind of therapy - I have found that therapists know their colleagues in other therapy fields. In fact, that's how we found our OT - it was through our speech therapist, who also pointed us toward our behavioral therapist.

Another place to try would be a rehab hospital. That's where my mom received her OT services.

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I talked to a friend tonight who is an OT. She said that your son could absolutely use art therapy as an OT. She said OTs have more opportunities to be creative in their work than PTs. And she said that being a COTA is sort of like being a PA these days - PAs have to work under an MD’s supervision but can still treat patients with some degree of independence.

Currently, to be a fully licensed OT, you have to have a masters degree.

 

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My Dd is an OTA. It is a great career that will dramatically vary as to what you are doing depending on where you are working. OTAs who work in nursing homes may end up focusing on working with  patients with toileting, showering, Moving form wheelchair to bed, etc. If they work with children, the focus will be completely different and could vary widely between one child and the next. My Dd worked with kids on everything from swinging, building with blocks, to writing. There are OTAs that work with just hand rehab.  

As they go through their fieldwork, a good program will have them in different settings to get exposure to the wide range of facilities and what is being done in the different settings.

This site is the best site for info https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/OTMonth/what-is-OT.aspx 

I would only recommend attending a program on this list: https://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Find-School/AccreditEntryLevel/OTAPrograms.aspx 

And, yes, there is a difference between OTA and PTA. If I remember what my Dd used to say it was something like PTAs assist the PT. OTAs assist the therapy. That distinction means that OTAs have more freedom. They might work in a facility where they are the only OT person.  An OT has to do the initial evaluation and goals, but daily work toward achieving those goals can be decided upon by the OTA. I know that my Dd has definitely drawn on patient interests for their therapy. She has designed crafts, etc that she has taken into work for them to do.

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I forgot to mention that my dd's program  is competitive for admissions. There is only 1 program in the entire state and they only accept 35 students per yr. Admissions is based on a formula (GPA and test scores) and an interview.

Her program had 30 hrs of college pre-reqs she had to complete before she could apply. Then, the  program went for 12 months straight, Aug to Aug.  During that 12 months there were blocks of weeks where she wasnt in class but was doing straight fieldwork. At the end of the program they have to pass the licensing exam which makes them a COTA.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart

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