What is an Occupational Therapy Aide?

An occupational therapy aide is a man or woman who performs administrative and assistant duties at a hospital, psychiatric ward, substance abuse center, or a specialized occupational therapy clinic. He or she assists in the intake and evaluation of new clients, helps to identify occupational therapy goals, sets up payment plans, and takes inventory of supplies. Some occupational therapy aides help patients accomplish daily activities, such as walking, getting dressed, and going to the restroom. With the help of aides, assistants, and occupational therapists, individuals with debilitating injuries are given the opportunities and resources needed to return to their careers and independent living.

The majority of an occupational therapy aide's job involves keeping detailed records of patients' accounts and scheduling appointments for new and ongoing clients. An aide usually relies on computer programs and spreadsheets to organize data, check for available appointment times, and make special notes about clients. A professional answers questions over the telephone and calls clients to remind them of their scheduled appointments. When new clients arrive at a hospital or clinic, the occupational therapy aide generally greets them, administers paperwork, answers questions, and prepares them for sessions. Aides may also be responsible for paying bills and collecting payments from clients and insurance companies.

Occupational therapists frequently rely on aides to take inventory of medical and office supplies, and order new products when necessary. An aide might remind therapists of their appointment times and provide information about new clients so they can prepare materials and begin creating treatment plans ahead of time. In some clinics, aides take on extra responsibilities, such as monitoring patient health and helping with basic therapy sessions.

An individual wishing to become an occupational therapy aide is typically required to possess a high school diploma and spend several hours training on the job. Most employers look for applicants who have medical office, customer service, or clerical experience, as skills learned in those positions are essential in occupational therapy aide jobs. A new worker learns the fundamentals of the position from experienced aides or occupational therapists during a specified training period.

With enough experience and continuing education, an occupational therapy aide has the opportunity to obtain more advanced positions within the field. Many individuals work as aides while enrolled in two-year occupational therapy assistant training programs at community colleges. Occupational therapy assistants are allowed to perform more hands-on tasks, working directly with clients to help them reach their goals. An aide who wants to become a licensed occupational therapist must usually obtain a master's degree or higher, participate in an internship, and pass a national licensing examination before working independently.


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