Pursuing a career as an occupational therapy assistant can be very lucrative and rewarding. Occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) help individuals heal from injuries and illnesses that have left them unable to do their normal day-to-day activities.
Before delving into a new career, it’s really important to make sure that it’s the right field for you. It should align with the type of person you are and it should be in an environment that allows you to thrive. Below, we’ve come up with a list of eight different character traits that successful OTAs tend to embody.
Being an occupational therapy assistant requires a lot of creativity. OTAs are constantly working with individuals who need different kinds of therapy. Although they are not the ones who come up with the patients’ treatment plans, they are the ones who implement them. Therefore, they need to have good problem-solving skills and be able to handle certain obstacles when they come up. When working in home health care, especially, they need to evaluate the patient’s home and use their creativity to suggest new healing modalities if the current ones are not working.
Patience is a key trait in this profession. OTAs work with patients who have experienced accidents or illnesses that have left them debilitated. The recovery time for these patients is often long and strenuous, so it is the OTAs’ job and responsibility to have patience when working with their clients. Not being able to do certain tasks anymore can leave individuals feeling discouraged, and sometimes even angry. OTAs need to understand this frustration and help them overcome it with ease and encouragement.
Kindness is crucial when working with patients. Many patients may be discouraged when they first start therapy because they are not used to having someone help them with everything and their recovery time is often long. OTAs need to be understanding and considerate when working with them. Physical injuries and illnesses sometimes have an impact on mental health as well, so it’s super important for OTAs to keep in mind how much their attitude impacts the patients.
The best kind of OTAs are the ones who are genuinely passionate about what they do. It not only makes their job easier, but it makes the patient’s time spent in therapy easier, as well. The individuals who thrive the most in this career are the ones who have an actual interest in helping people regain their strength and resume their normal lives again.
When starting therapy, patients can sometimes feel discouraged. It is hard for some of them to accept the fact that they can’t do certain things on their own anymore. OTAs need to be optimistic and encourage patients on their journey toward recovery. Keeping a high morale is super important for both the OTAs and patients.
Being observant is a key trait in helping patients heal. OTAs have to constantly keep an eye on their patients and observe if the current healing modalities are working, as well as the progress being made by the patients. By monitoring patients’ progress, OTAs can determine if the current treatment plans are working, and make necessary changes if they’re not.
Although occupational therapists create the treatment plans, OTAs still have to be independent self-starters. They must be competent enough to take charge and help individuals heal. They are the ones working with the patients on a daily basis. Occupational therapists check in on the patients throughout the their time spent in therapy, but the OTAs are the ones working one-on-one with the patients, helping them heal and restore their functions. So they must be comfortable handling all of the responsibilities.
Another super important trait that OTAs must have is adaptability. They work in many different settings with many different patients, so being open-minded and ready to take on new challenges is crucial. Although OTAs get to choose what setting they work in, they will still be dealing with patients of all demographics.