Marie knew she wanted to be an occupational therapy assistant; she’d shadowed an occupational therapist at a hospital and was interested in the occupational therapy field. The problem was that she couldn’t find a program or school for occupational therapy that offered OTA.
Instead, Marie went to massage therapy school, an experience she doesn’t regret, but one that was difficult. Marie shared that she worked during the day and went to school at night. She recalls how hard it was to sit in class every day.
When she decided to pursue her OTA degree, Marie knew she needed a program that was flexible. Marie says, “I didn’t want to sit in a classroom all day long, especially having a kid and a husband."
We sat down with Marie to get her thoughts on becoming an OTA, online learning, what she wishes others knew about the field, and more.
Interview with an OTA Student
Q: Why did you choose to pursue your degree at St. Catherine University?
A: That was kind of an awesome experience.
When I started looking for schools, I was getting discouraged because in my area no schools were accredited. I walked into work one day at Genesis and heard about this new school that Genesis was partnering with. My boss told me that it was online and I was like, "There’s no way for this type of work!"
She gave me the number [877-223-2677] and I called and enrolled in St. Catherine University.
Q: How was the admissions process for you?
A: My admissions advisor was so helpful. I’ve dealt with community colleges and dealing with St. Kate was really amazing. The advisor was professional, and if he didn’t know the answer, he’d find out and email me right away.
My advisor is a doctorate-educated occupational therapist and has been an OTR since 1982! She knows her stuff and dealing with her has been awesome.
Q: How have you adapted to online learning?
A: I learned that you have to be extremely independent and you have to really sit down and focus and get it done. You can’t get behind.
It's easy because I can put my daughter down at bedtime, get in my jammies, and then bust out class and homework. It would be a pain in the butt to drive 30 minutes from my house. I’d have to find a baby sitter, buy gas.
Being able to get homework done when I can on my own time has been extremely helpful.
Did you Know?
St. Catherine University's online OTA program is 80% online and 20% skills labs and fieldwork hands-on training.
Q: What was your experience like when completing fieldwork?
A: I felt really proud of myself during my level II fieldwork. I was able to watch myself grow as an OTA student and to apply what I learned in class in real life scenarios. It helped me see what life would really be like as a COTA, and it made me even more excited about my career path.
Q: What do you wish others knew about working in occupational therapy?
A: OT helps individuals gain the strength to do everyday tasks that they’re used to doing, but because they were in an accident or had an injury or an illness, they’re not able to do those tasks as easily.
OT is there to guide you and find ways for you to do things that are meaningful, that are part of your everyday life.
Q: If you were talking to a prospective OTA student, how would you convince them to become an OTA?
A: I would tell them that it’s a very rewarding career and if you are a compassionate person and feel compelled to help others, then this is the perfect career to you.
Marie is a student in our first graduating class of the online OTA program in Virginia and will graduate this December.
In addition to online coursework, students participate in skills labs and fieldwork. Thanks to fieldwork, Marie has discovered her passion in OT is geriatrics, and she’s looking forward to working in a facility that helps older adults. She knows it will be a challenge; one she’ll be ready for, thanks to her education through St. Catherine University.
St. Catherine's Online OTA Program
Though St. Catherine's online OTA program, students such as Marie are able to earn a well-rounded education consisting of online learning, hands-on skills labs, and fieldwork experiences with real clients from the nation's leader in OTA education.
Once she graduates in December, Marie will be eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) COTA exam and join the ranks of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants.
If you are ready to join Marie and become an occupational therapy assistant, contact an admissions advisor today.