Occupational Therapy Assistant: Getting Lives Back on Track

Helping adults and children learn or re-learn skills and function in their day to day lives is the role of the occupational therapy assistant.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program at Lone Star College-Kingwood offers students the opportunity to help children, adolescents and the elderly in a dynamic allied health profession.

This is a career with a ton of potential.  In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the job outlook for occupational therapy assistants is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2010, meaning that employment is expected to increase by 36% or more.  Careerbulider.com lists occupational therapist assistants as one of the 10 best jobs requiring a two-year degree.

The OTA program is a full-time, daytime program beginning each January.  Program curriculum is developed under the guidance of the American Occupational Therapy Association and includes academic and technical courses.  In the final semester, students are placed in local healthcare facilities to complete fieldwork requirements.

Upon successful completion of the program, students graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree and graduates are eligible to take the national certification exam to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).  Most states, including Texas, require licensure in order to practice.

Linda Gallander, assistant professor in the program, says, "The program is a great return on the students' investment.  For approximately $4,800 and two years of education and fieldwork, the student will be making anywhere from $40,000 to $45,000 a year."

Student, O'Dwyer Fluker, says she thoroughly enjoys the program and plans to further her education and become a registered therapist. "I found out about the OTA program during a summer class at LSC-North Harris.  My professor advised me that Kingwood had a very good OTA program and that it would be to my benefit to apply for the program. Best decision by far!"

She says the hands-on activities are the best, "The hands-on activities allow us to have fun and learn in the process."

Much of the time COTA's work one-on-one with patients.  They incorporate a variety of treatment techniques specific to a patient's needs and abilities.  Some patients want to regain the ability to accomplish simple daily tasks, like brushing their teeth; others may have more complex goals, like helping a stroke victim learn to fish again.

Because they are trained to administer care to a wide-range of patient ages, COTA's are qualified to work in a variety of settings, including medical facilities, rehabilitation clinics, inpatient and outpatient clinics, long-term/acute care centers, mental health hospitals, school systems and home health programs.

Anyone interested in this program is encouraged to come and visit a class in session.  Gallander says, "I'm more than happy to speak with anyone about the requirements of the program.  They are also welcome to come and sit in on class any Monday or Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Health and Science Building, room 105."

Applications are being accepted now through November 14 for the spring 2009 program, beginning in January.  Prerequisite courses may be required.  For more information, contact Linda Gallander at Linda.F.Gallander@lonestar.edu or call 281-312-1525.

For general information about Lone Star College-Kingwood, call 281-312-1600 or visit our Web site at Kingwood.LoneStar.edu.

Lone Star College System consists of five colleges, including Cy-Fair, Kingwood, Montgomery, North Harris, and Tomball, six centers and the Lone Star College-University Center. With 49,250 students, it is the largest college system in the Houston area, and third largest community college district in Texas. To learn more, visit LoneStar.edu.