Regardless of what your passion is, it’s important to ask yourself if you are a good fit for a career. You may dream of playing professional football, but hate exercise. Or, more realistically, you may want to pursue a medical career and find that the lifestyle doesn’t fit into what you want or expect. So is OTA a good career for you to go into?
If you are considering a an occupational therapy assistant career, you have probably looked at other medical careers as well. You may like the idea of being a doctor, but don’t want to pursue six to eight years of school, plus internship and residency. You may like the idea of becoming a nurse, but don’t like the hours.
Here are 5 important characteristics you should have if you are planning on a COTA career.
1. You Should Be Patient
One of the best aspects of OTA is the variety you will be exposed to in your career. Working as an occupational therapy assistant allows you to work with myriad patients, from young children to senior citizens to patients who have been disabled through illness or injury. Each and every patient you work with will have a different reason for working with an occupational therapy assistant, and each patient will require a new approach and patience.
Not every patient will respond the same to treatments, even if the patients are working with you for the same reason, such as stroke recovery. While you will work with the residing occupational therapist to develop an approach to each patient, you may have to revisit each approach differently a couple of times.
You may also work with patients who are resistant to certain treatments. If you are working with a child with autism who struggles with fine motor skills development, you may find that he or she doesn’t want to work with you on some days. You may also work helping an adult overcome physical disabilities to maintain his or her independence within the home. Both of these patients may feel defeated with the tasks they are set, which can lead you to feeling frustrated. Your patience will keep you going during these difficult moments.
2. You Should Be Attentive
Attention to detail goes hand-in-hand with patience. Attention to detail is important in any medical profession. You are responsible for another human’s well-being, so properly reading and writing a chart can make a big difference. The occupational therapist you are working with will sign your notes, but that is no excuse for sloppiness.
Paying attention to the small changes can also change how you go about treating your patient. If one week he or she can manage a fine motor task but the next week he or she struggles with it, you will have to find out what happened and work with the occupational therapist to develop a new treatment technique or plan.
3. You Should Be Creative
Being creative doesn’t necessarily mean that you are handy with a hot glue gun, sequins, and glitter. You certainly won’t find yourself being easily bored with the same repetitive tasks day after day. Working as an occupational therapy assistant means that every day will be new and different. Your patients may respond to the same therapy techniques, but some will require additional tasks in order to continue to improve. Even small adjustments can make a difference, and you will have to be creative enough to consider these changes.
4. You Must Be Able to Work with a Team
The most important aspect of being a successful occupational therapy assistant is being able to work within a team. You will find yourself struggling if you are too independent and don’t enjoy working with others. You will be working closely with your patient as well as an occupational therapist.
So how do you work with an occupational therapist? According to our occupational therapy guest blogger, occupational therapy assistants working with an OT requires constant communication so treatment is properly adjusted as needed. You will also have to work with your OT to get your daily notes signed, and the OT manages any treatment changes made. Great teamwork also helps resolve any disagreements over treatment in an amicable and calm manner.
5. You Should Be Friendly
Bedside manner does not just indicate patients in a hospital. All of your patients are going through certain struggles, whether it’s a developmental delay or an illness that has taken away some of their freedom. Every patient will have a day (or two, or ten) that makes it difficult to face the world. He might be in a lot of pain that day, or may have been reminded how much things have changed. The comfort you provide to a patient can help inspire them to improve, and it may allow good friendships to develop. If you enjoy making people feel better, both physically and emotionally, you will probably enjoy a career as an occupational therapy assistant.
Are you are still wondering if OTA is a good career for you? Do you want to learn more about working as a certified occupational therapist? Contact us today to speak to one of our admissions advisors and learn about St. Catherine’s online OTA program.