There have been dramatic shifts in U.S. population as a result of an increased average life span. This phenomenon, along with advances in science, technology and medicine has brought occupational therapy into the forefront of the health care field. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of occupational therapists to increase by 24% and of occupational therapy assistants to increase by 28% between 2016 and 2026. United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports a 2018 mean annual income of $60,410 for occupational therapy assistants.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant curriculum prepares entry-level occupational therapy assistants to work in community and institutional health care programs, providing direct and consultative occupational therapy services to individuals, groups, communities, and populations.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant curriculum combines Occupational Therapy Assistant and general education courses with selected laboratory experiences. Program courses cover theory and application of theory, development across the lifespan (birth to death), therapeutic use of self, pediatric/adult/and geriatric patient/client treatment, physical disabilities/mental health, research, evidence-based practice, technology and documentation. The Occupational Therapy specific classes are complemented with general studies in anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology, and English composition. Although the Occupational Therapy Assistant curriculum is designed to be completed in two academic years, students may take a longer time to fulfill their degree requirements, depending on individual circumstances.
In the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, students receive instruction in theory and develop practical skills relating to occupational therapy through classroom, laboratory and fieldwork settings. Through second year course work, students participate in fieldwork practice settings to include general physical medicine and psychiatric centers, developmental disabilities, schools, nursing homes and community agencies. In these experiences, students work with and teach patients and clients methods for engagement in self-care, work, play/leisure, education, social skills, rest/sleep, and home/community living skills.
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