All in a Day’s Work: Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

  • Article by: NANCY CROTTI
  • Updated: March 25, 2009 - 2:56 PM

Laureen Akervik, a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant at Augustana Healthcare Hastings campus, talks about her job. She discusses why she became a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, what a typical workday is like, and how her role fits into the bigger healthcare picture.

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Laureen Akervik, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

Q:     What’s a typical workday like for you?
Most is spent in direct treatment of patients who have had surgery, a stroke, a heart attack, a fall, a fracture or a back injury. We work on dressing, grooming, hygiene, strength, standing tolerance and functional mobility to ensure that they are safe when they return home. We educate them on restrictions, body mechanics, breathing, edema control, range of motion, fine motor skills and the use of adaptive equipment. We also do cognitive assessments and documentation.

Q:     How does your role fit into the bigger healthcare picture?
When we increase patient strength and safety, we can decrease hospital stays and help patients stay in their homes longer.  That’s a huge cost benefit, and we help patients meet their maximum potential and get back out into the community.

Q:     Who do you interact with during the course of the day?          
We collaborate with occupational therapists, patients and caregivers on treatment plans. We also work with speech and physical therapists, nurses, doctors, the social worker and insurers.

Q:     Why did you become a certified occupational therapy assistant?
When I was a nursing assistant, I was always attracted to the therapy room. The description of occupational therapy -- the art and science of helping people develop purposeful activity that improves the overall quality of their lives -- appealed to me. I also liked the variety of settings that a COTA could work in, such as pediatrics, hospitals and in geriatrics.

Q:     What do you like about your work?
I like working with older people.  They have so much knowledge and experience.  I like having an impact on patients regaining their independence and I like the creativity that we get to use.  It makes every day different.

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