Associates Degree Programs in Occupational Therapy
Associate's degrees in occupational therapy qualify graduates for work as occupational therapy assistants. The occupational therapy field involves helping patients improve their lives during recovery from an illness or injury. Assistants in this field work with supervising occupational therapists to help individuals who have accessibility, learning or health problems become more independent and hence, increase a patient's quality of life.
Associate's Degree in Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy assistants work with individuals who have a variety of problems, such as illness, mental impairment, injuries from an accident, a genetic disorder or chronic illness. Students take core courses in occupational therapy along with general education courses in math, social sciences, biology and computers. Students learn how to employ various types of equipment and tools in the treatment of patients.
Associate's degrees in occupational therapy also include internships. Internships allow students to work in clinics, hospitals, schools, community settings and laboratories.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admission to the associate program. Students are expected to be competent in English, reading and math and admission exams in these subjects may be required. In addition, high school biology is highly recommended.
Curriculum of study prepares students to work one-on-one with individuals in a variety of settings. Students learn how to recognizes a patient's needs, how to do a patient assessment and how to setup a plan, with goals, for treatment. A program's curriculum may include the following courses:
- Human occupations
- Practice of skills need to be an occupational therapist assistant
- Physical rehabilitation theory
- Theory of developmental habilitation
- Speech fundamentals
- Clinical or internship
Popular Career Options
Most jobs within this field involve assisting occupational therapists with a range of rehabilitation activities. These include properly moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair, monitoring a patient's' activities and recording a client's progress. Assistants may also perform clerical tasks, including paperwork, answering phones and scheduling appointments. Occupational assistants may find position in:
- Nursing homes
- Acute care
- Ergonomics consulting
- Services for individuals with low vision
- Development of assistive devices
- Consulting in wellness and health
Continuing Education and Certification
Students can move onto a bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree in occupational therapy after completing their associate's degree. Completion of these programs may allow graduates to work as occupational therapists and in supervisor positions. The doctoral degrees are for individuals who want to teach at the university level and research.
Associate's degree graduates may sit for the National Certification Exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Most states require completion and passing of this exam in order to practice.
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