KOKOMO, Ind. — Prepare for a career in one of the fastest-growing health care support fields, with a degree from Indiana University Kokomo.
The School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions will begin its occupational therapy assistant (OTA) track in the new Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences for the Fall 2023 semester. Interested students may begin completing the two-year prerequisite courses now, to be ready for admission.
Dean Susan Hendricks said the program fills an educational gap in Indiana and leads to an in-demand career. Only one other public institution in Indiana offers the degree, which prepares people for the second-highest ranked health care support job in 2021, with 36 percent projected growth by 2030. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) the mean average salary of OTA in the state of Indiana is $52,120.
“It’s a great entry level allied health profession role,” she said. “With this bachelor’s degree, students are set up nicely to go to graduate school for occupational therapy and can also work as a licensed professional while earning an advanced degree.”
Christina Douglas, OTA program director and clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy, said occupational therapy assistants work alongside occupational therapists in a variety of settings, including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, schools, and community-based organizations. They assist people to participate in meaningful and purposeful activities, such as self-care, social participation, play and leisure activities, driving, education, work, and more, to maximize independence, enhance development, prevent disability, and maintain health.
“It’s not as much about physical movement as it is someone being able to participate in meaningful activities,” she said. “Can they make a meal in their kitchen? Can they get themselves dressed? We’re more concerned about helping them be able to function and participate in activities that are important to them and give their life meaning.”
An OTA works under the supervision of an occupational therapist, delivering treatment, assisting with evaluations, monitoring progress, and assisting with discharge planning.
“They have a piece of the whole process of therapy delivery,” Douglas said.
The program combines classroom, laboratory, fieldwork, and clinical experiences to prepare students to work in the rehabilitation field.
The application process for the first cohort begins in spring 2023 but interested students may begin taking the prerequisites now. Current IU Kokomo students can meet with their academic advisor to plan to take the required courses.
To be admitted, students must have completed the prerequisites with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA, and a 2.7 GPA on classes like anatomy and physiology, which are closely related to the field.