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 the highest average salary. The growth of this field is even more advantageous locally, with Ohio having the “highest concentration of workers in this occupation” in the United States. OOH) Possible local employers include Select Specialty Hospital, a long term acute care hospital, and CareTenders, a member of Almost Family which is a leading provider of home health nursing, rehabilitation and personal care services. An OTA has to have a wide variety of skills at their disposal to handle changing environments and problems that arise in a variety of patient’s therapy. They have to be dependable and honest since they are required to work directly with patients with little to no supervision. An OTA needs to have a high level of self control and the ability to be flexible considering therapy can be decidedly frustrating for patients who have lost independence and mobility and must now rely on others. (O*NET OnLine) Being a good student is paramount due to an OTA being “expected to continue professional development by participating in continuing education courses and workshops in order to maintain certification”. (OOH) Lives are changed everyday by occupational therapy assistants. I have the dedication, compassion, and ability to celebrate every miniscule improvement needed to become a successful OTA. This a quickly growing field where I can use the talents I already possess to excel. I can easily recall the differences made in my papaw’s life through occupational therapy and the way every advancement in mobility or independence was as exciting as it would be with a new born. Michael became as close as family through his work with papaw. I want to touch lives. I want to make a difference. I want to be an occupational therapy assistant. Works Cited “Occupational Outlook Handbook. ” Bureau of Labor Statistics. Department of Labor, 2010-2011 Edition. N. pag. Web. 22 Jul 2010. “Occupational Therapy Named One of Nations 150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs. ” Biotech Week 5 Nov. 2008: 3963. General OneFile. Web. 22 Jul 2010. “Summary Report for: 31-2011. 00 – Occupational Therapist Assistants. ” O*NET OnLine. U. S. Department of Labor, 2008. Web. 22 Jul 2010.
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