Occupational Therapist Assistants: The Helping Hand

<P>Occupational therapist assistants implement a treatment plan created and supervised by an occupational therapist. Treatment plans involve instructing patients recovering from injuries and illness on the proper ways to move when attempting daily tasks, like moving from a bed to a wheelchair. The assistant will monitor and report therapy progress, prepare and maintain therapeutic rooms and perform clerical duties such as creating appointments and answering the telephone.</P> <P>The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the 2010 mean occupational therapy assistant salary at $51,000, the low being $33,000 and the high at $71,000. The bureau expects demand for the profession to climb nearly 43% between 2010 and 2020. The growth will be in response to an aging population increasing the demand for occupational therapy especially in health care facilities. Positions are also increasing as occupational therapists employ a higher number of aids. The lower occupational therapy assistant salary reduces the cost of the therapy. Therapy is organized and supervised by the occupational therapist and the assistant executes the plan working directly with the patient.</P> <P>Generally an associates degree is required for the position. Programs are typically located in community colleges and technical schools. A majority of states require a license. License requirements include graduating from a school with a program accredited by Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Additional certification is available from National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).</P> <P>The NBCOT provides online certificate verification. Certificates are required to be renewed once per year. Renewal of certification involves satisfying requirements of professional service and continuing education. </P> <P>The abundance of schools offering occupational therapy creates multiple recruitment sites. Schools may also require on the job training as part of the curriculum. Partnering with a local school, technical or community college provides a pathway for the development of more qualified employment candidates and will provide immediate access to experience proven prospects. </P> <P>Experienced and new job hunters will be involved in social media like Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Establishing a presence on social media will place your organization where new recruits are to be found. Traditional want ads and even posting on Craigs list ignores a large sector of the potential workforce.</P> <P>Partnering with a school can offer more than just internship possibilities. Offering grants, scholarships and awarding prizes to seniors for research into physical therapy will create a long term and renewing pool of qualified employment candidates. Professional sponsorship for school programs encourages program selection and provides an incentive for excelling at the course work and completing the program.</P> <P>Career path management is an effective recruitment tool. Providing education stipends and pathways into advanced positions not only improves the quality of the workforce but increase retention of existing employees. Increased retention reduces future recruitment costs helping to offset the benefit expenses.</P> <P>Federal and state training programs especially targeted for returning armed service veterans offer direct payments and tax incentives for their hiring and training. Additional funding is available targeting specific social and economical groups. Contacting the local Veterans Administration Office and a states Economic Development Office will quickly make a connection with the program administrators. Many of these programs can also be used to improve the skills of qualified individuals already in the organization.</P> <P>The increasing demand for Occupational Therapist Assistant services is inevitable. The opportunity to meet the demand will be dependent on successful recruiting and retention policies. These policies will require being visible where the workforce is searching such as on Facebook and other social media sites and participation in professional organizations. Exploring public programs can reduce the cost of developing and training staff in the required areas.</P>

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