I am pleased to welcome Dr. Kurt Hubbard as today’s guest blogger! He is here to share three responsibilities that Occupational Therapy Assistants need to be aware of, but that they may not have realized are part of the job description.
The work of an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) is fairly straightforward: you help provide the therapeutic support that people need to learn or re-learn day-to-day living skills. Simple, right? Well, hold your horses: it turns out that OTAs must shoulder some surprising responsibilities that no one talks about in school.
(1) Law Enforcement
Law enforcement?! Yep, just wait until you have to lay down the law to that flirty fifty-five-year-old.
Kidding. We’re actually referring, in an administrative sense, to the fact that OTAs have to be aware of the legalities of medical care.
This is doubly true in certain environments, like schools. You’ll discover that sometimes the people involved (like parents) are almost forced to resort to legal measure to get the care their child needs. Sometimes it’s overprotective guardians; other times it’s the result of rigid bureaucracies. Either way, you may be required to spend time and energy dealing with the legal side of things.
Similarly, you might find yourself fielding requests for help that fall outside normal limits, not necessarily illegal, but perhaps it is care not included in contractual agreements. It’s up to you to enforce those legal boundaries and part of being a professional in the Occupational Therapy profession is to be an advocate for your clients and their families.
(2) Gossip Deflection
Psst! You know that Pam is getting it on with George, right? Well, I heard George spent time with Cynthia behind closed doors yesterday. Mm-hm. He’s such a…
Wait. What? Oh, the gossip. You will be astounded at what people – patients and colleagues alike – will share with you. You are helping many of them re-learn how to do tasks as private as using the bathroom, so what secrets could possibly be left? Well, plenty, it turns out.
Some of this gossip will turn into minor-league counselling, where your colleagues just want to vent with you, and your patients just want to turn to a sympathetic ear. But sometimes it will turn into a full-fledged gossip fest that you do not want to join, and it’s your responsibility as the professional and caregiver to put the brakes on any inappropriate conversation topics.
Although it is difficult to keep a professional persona dealing with sensitive client issues it is important to remain objective and appropriate to be an effective therapist.
(3) Occupational Balancing
Work-life balance is important for everyone, but perhaps none more so than people who occupy caregiver roles. OTAs work hard, and it’s incredibly rewarding: there’s nothing like the gratitude of someone you helped to regain their independence.
But getting them there? That part isn’t easy and often involves tasks that no one likes – you OR your patient? That means you need to become an expert at refuelling, recharging and replenishing yourself – and fast – before you burn out. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?
It is important to maintain a balanced lifestyle, because a therapist is not going to be much use to their clients unless they are practicing what they preach.
Nourish yourself with plenty of high quality rest, relaxation and physical activities. If you can, let yourself be supported and cared for. On the bright side, a rewarding career matched with enjoyable personal time is the exact recipe for a happy life.
And there you have it: three completely surprising responsibilities of Occupational Therapy Assistants. Hopefully now you have a better idea of what this wonderful, challenging career holds in store for you. If we can answer any more questions, just let us know.
. . . . .
Dr. Kurt Hubbard is the National Dean of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate’s Degree and Physical Therapist Assistant Associate’s Degree programs at Remington College. His background includes clinical and academic experience in the field of Occupational Therapy. He is the owner of Hubbard Occupational Therapy, P.C. with offices in Florida and New York, and has taught at the University of St. Augustine, Nova Southeastern University, and Flagler College. His educational background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Master’s Degrees in both Psychology and Occupational Therapy, and a PhD in Health Psychology/Behavioural Medicine.
Join the newsletter!
Want more handy tips & tricks to help the kids in your life?
Subscribe to Mama OT so you can receive updates about new posts, helpful tidbits & a look at what's going on behind the scenes.