When I was seven my papaw had a stroke. He stayed in the hospital a few weeks and when he came home he had a new bed and bars in the bathroom. Michael started coming to papaw’s not long after that. It was confusing and difficult to watch Michael help papaw out of bed, or brush his teeth, or tie his shoes. Over time we began to notice improvements. Papaw needed help with his buttons but not his shirt. Michael would make the coffee but papaw could pour it. By the time papaw died he needed much less therapy but we still saw Michael every few weeks.
The patience, compassion and encouragement of one person improved my family’s last years with its patriarch in countless ways. It was this improvement that inspired me to pursue a career as an occupational therapist assistant.
Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) “provide rehabilitative services to persons with mental, physical, emotional, or developmental impairments”. (Occupational Outlook Handbook) As an OTA I will be responsible for the “hands-on” portion of a patient’s therapy as well as all documentation on a patient’s progress and changes to therapy that are needed. OTAs guide a patients therapy based on “a treatment plan developed in collaboration with an occupational therapist”. (OOH)
Upon graduation from a school accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, a passing grade on a certifying exam is necessary to obtain employment as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Once certified, COTAs face no shortage of employment options. In 2008, OTA was named as one of the fifty fastest-growing recession-proof jobs with an annual percentage growth of over twenty-five percent.(Biotech Week) These positions can be held in such places as nursing care facilities, elementary and secondary schools, hospitals, or outpatient care centers. An OTA can look forward to an average annual salary of over fifty thousand dollars with offices of other health care practitioners offering...
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