No one in healthcare works alone. Even though they’re often on the go, working in different locations, and frequently bouncing from client to client, that’s true for occupational therapy assistants. If you’re an OTA, you’ll be part of a larger network of healthcare, and you’ll frequently interact with other professionals whose expertise differs from yours. Occupational therapy assistants can work in a variety of situations and work environments, and that means they can come in contact with several other types of healthcare providers. Future OTAs, meet your possible co-workers.
Virtually every OTA will work with one or more occupational therapists. They’re the ones who will evaluate a client, their living environment, and how well that client is able to perform activities of daily living. The OT will formulate a plan of care, and OTAs help clients carry out that plan. OTAs also report back to the OT about how a treatment plan is progressing and keep them apprised of any new developments with a client. Unlike the other professionals on this list, occupational therapy assistants will always work with an OT.
Many of an OTA’s clients will also require the services of a speech-language pathologist, or speech therapist. While OTs and OTAs help clients regain physical and cognitive skills, these professionals help their patients regain spoken language skills, as well as swallowing skills. Some clients, following a stroke or other disease, have difficulty swallowing, and these essential skills are also the purview of a speech therapist. Both OTAs and speech therapists help others gain or regain the necessary skills for living independently.
Occupational therapists and physical therapists often share workspace, and with good reason. Both of these professions are dedicated to working with how people move, though in different ways. PT works more on how people move, and focuses on things like gait training and quality of movement. OT works more on functional mobility and how the client is getting around their environment. PTs also have a particular emphasis on managing the pain that can come with traumatic injuries. Clients who’ve experienced great physical trauma, strokes, or other injuries often need the intensive support and pain management of PT, and need to regain activities of daily living with OT.
OTAs and RNs can often find themselves in the same place and providing care for the same people. This includes hospitals and clinics, but also schools, homes, and elder care facilities. In those settings, populations such as the elderly can need the regular support of multiple healthcare providers. In these settings, OTAs and nurses are part of a team who work closely together, coordinating care and treatment for their clients/patients.