May 23, 2023

Program Highlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant

By B&SC Blog Team

Program Highlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant

We’re putting a spotlight on the efforts of those in the occupational therapy (OT) and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) fields. To do so, we spoke with Tracey Marie Taylor, occupational therapist and director of the OTA program at Bryant & Stratton College – Greece Campus.

What is OT?

According to Taylor, OT focuses on helping patients improve their ability to carry out activities of daily life. “The way I like to describe it is whatever your ailment, diagnosis, disability or impairment is, an OT will ask you what your goals are and what you want to get back to doing,” said Taylor. “Whatever those goals are related to, whether your occupation or your needs, that’s what we will work on.”
Bryant & Stratton’s OTA program is an 18-month program that offers students an associate degree, which can lead to a career under the direction and supervision of an occupational therapist. “An OTA can work very autonomously,” said Taylor. “For instance, they can work within a school system. However, there is always a supervision component, which is usually a collaboration between the OTA and the therapist that oversees them.”

OTA: A Trending Program

A recent article from the Scholarship Institute has OTA listed as a trending college major, which according to Taylor, is likely due to the altruistic nature of the field. “I think that people who choose the occupational therapy assistant program are looking to help people,” she said. “I believe they’re caring, and they have compassion and empathy. Many of our students learn about us because a loved one had occupational therapy services at some point, and they became intrigued by it.”

The field also allows for a variety of avenues to pursue. “There’s something for everyone,” said Taylor. “If you want to specialize in something, that is always an option, and that can bring a lot of good energy. The profession of occupational therapy lends itself to so many different avenues that people pursue.”

Unlike some majors in the healthcare field, Taylor has found that there aren’t any specific demographics for the OTA program. “We have a broad demographic of students,” she said. “We do get some students right out of high school, and we also get students who start at other colleges and decided that it wasn’t for them. We have students who transfer in from other programs or have decided later in life that they wanted to go back to school, which serves our program well because each have their own strengths that they can share with others.”

The job market for OTAs is strong right now, thanks in part to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. “There has been a great need for continuing care for COVID-related ailments,” said Taylor. “Overall, OT is ranked fairly high in terms of interest in the job market in regard to what your options are. There are plenty of jobs out there right now, though it depends on where you want to go and what you want to do.”

OT and Autism

Autism is also something near and dear to Taylor, and it carries a connection to OT. “I am a parent of a son, now 23, who has autism, which has helped me in my position as a program director for the OTA program,” said Taylor. “Years ago, when we moved back to the area, there weren’t any support systems around. So, a group of parents and I founded Autism Up, a local resource and agency in the Rochester area that supports parents and families who have been affected by autism.”

When Taylor began her position at Bryant & Stratton College as a fieldwork coordinator, she had ideas for enhancing the program. “I think that one of the areas where we need improvement in our society is inclusive opportunities for people, but that doesn’t always happen for people with autism, especially adults with autism,” said Taylor. “I was able to coordinate with Sara Milko, who is the executive director of Autism Up, and we were able to coordinate our early fieldwork for the students. They do hands-on, three-to-four-hour fieldwork with children and adults, ranging from three years old through their 30s, at the Golisano Autism Center. The students get a lot of hands-on and observational experience, not just with children, but with families as well. There is an OT on staff there, giving them experience with the OT/OTA relationship and collaboration.”

As part of a second fieldwork experience, students work with individuals on the autism spectrum to participate in a variety of activities, including gardening, yoga, financial literacy, and operating a café, with more activities planned for the fall. “We’re looking to teach skills such as folding the laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, preparing a meal and other household tasks. We’re looking to help these individuals be more successful and independent and be able to be at their best.”

To learn more about Bryant & Stratton College’s OTA program offered at our campuses in Wisconsin, Ohio and New York, you can visit the OTA program page or request more information.

Related News