If you become an occupational therapy assistant, you’ll work with a variety of clients. OTAs work with children, the elderly, and anyone who needs to gain or regain essential daily skills. They also work in many different environments. Your OTA journey can take you all the way from the halls of large institutions where you work with hundreds of other healthcare workers, to private homes where you work on your own.
Related Resource: What Does an Occupational Therapy Assistant Do?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most OTAs work in the “offices of physical, occupational, and speech therapists and audiologists” (that is to say outpatient clinics). Occupational therapy clinics will sometimes share space with other caregivers such as physical therapists or audiologists who may work with the same clients. Working in facilities like this means OTAs won’t just be coordinating with an occupational therapist, but also with other healthcare professionals like speech therapists.
Just over a third of OTAs work in hospitals. Integrating occupational therapy with acute care means OTAs will often work with clients who are recovering from potentially life-altering events. They frequently work with clients who have suddenly lost skills due to injuries, strokes, or other trauma, and can play a crucial role in the recovery process. These OTAs will regularly brush shoulders with RNs and MDs, and the treatment they provide will most often be part of a more comprehensive care plan.
Having OTAs as part of a patient’s hospital treatment can provide results. One 2016 study found that occupational therapy reduces hospital readmissions for clients with certain conditions. Allowing clients to regain essential skills can help get them back on their feet, back to participating in their daily lives, and out of the hospital.
OTAs routinely provides home health services. A major part of being an OTA is helping clients with their activities of daily living (ADL). Many of those occur in the home. Working in a client’s living space gives OTAs an up-close view of how clients use their skills in the home, allowing them to make sure the environment is optimized for the client’s specific needs.
A small percentage of OTAs work in schools. This includes elementary, middle, and high schools where they might work with specific students, but also universities where they may be part of student health facilities.
These are only a few of the places were OTAs can work, though. OTAs can also find themselves in nursing care or military facilities, in government or vocational programs, or with a day care service. Anywhere where healthcare happens, you can potentially find OTAs doing their work.