Essential Functions of an Occupational Therapy Assistant Student

Essential functions are those considered to be necessary or fundamental to performance of a job.  In postsecondary education, the student’s job is to learn and participate in an academic environment and the clinical environment as well. The student, with or without reasonable accommodation, must possess these essential functions.

Physical Demands

  • Sit on a chair.
  • Lift 20-50 pounds occasionally (up to 1/3 of the workday), and 10-25 pounds frequently (more than 1/3 to 2/3 of the workday).
  • Be independently mobile within a building and between buildings.
  • Travel to and from fieldwork placements, fieldtrips & assigned locations off campus.
  • Show sufficient balance to protect and assist client(s).
  • Demonstrate strength, agility, and flexibility to manipulate and position a client.
  • Have endurance and attention to actively engage in classroom activities for the entire required weekly contact hours.
  • Have endurance and attention to actively engage in client treatment for an entire full-time work week.
  • Reach and grasp bilaterally overhead, in front of the body, to the sides and down.
  • Demonstrate fine motor coordination/dexterity bilaterally to be able to grasp, handle, hold, cut, push, pull and feel.
  • Identify and respond to changes in temperature in modalities and in the client.
  • Work in confined spaces such as: assisting clients in a bathroom or working in an office with several people.
  • Provide individual/group OT services that achieve at least 75% of the professional productivity level requirements at each assigned fieldwork placement.

Communication Skills

  • Audibly communicate with clarity in person to exchange accurate information on a one-to-one basis, in a small group, large classroom setting or large group.
  • Exhibit legible, properly spelled, and grammatically correct written communications.
  • Complete a progress note within 15 minutes.
  • Use therapeutic communication: attending, clarifying, coaching, and facilitating, and using and responding to nonverbal communication.
  • Communicate effectively, efficiently and appropriately with peers, faculty, supervisors, other professionals, clients and their significant others.
  • Demonstrate sufficient observational skills to collect data on client performance, and assure client safety during treatment activities.

Personal Traits

  • Work within clinical environments, which involve exposure to persons with physical and mental disabilities; and to pain, grief, death, stress, communicable diseases, blood and body fluids, toxic substances, noxious odors and irritating particles.
  • Work with a diverse client population including persons of various ages, ethnic, racial, religious, alternative lifestyle and socioeconomic backgrounds without prejudice or repulsion.
  • Conduct oneself in accordance with professional ethics.
  • Exhibit teamwork skills and a spirit of cooperation and respect for peers, faculty, supervisors and other professionals, clients and their significant others.
  • Work around others and alone.
  • Function as part of a team including consulting, negotiating, sharing and influencing.

Cognitive/Perceptual Abilities

  • Modify behavior/performance in the classroom or the clinic after feedback from the instructor or clinical supervisor.
  • Show problem-solving ability sufficient to organize and complete multiple tasks accurately and within assigned time frames.
  • Independently initiate routine job tasks.
  • Respond independently and quickly to an emergency situation.
  • Demonstrate competency in clinical judgment and safety precautions.
  • Maintain poise and flexibility in stressful or changing conditions.
  • Deal with abstract and concrete variables, define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions.
  • Interpret instructions furnished in oral, written, diagrammatic or schedule form.
  • Follow a two-dimensional design or pattern to make a three-dimensional object.
  • Carry out detailed, simple to complex written or oral instructions.
  • Comprehend medical records, documents, evaluations, manuals, journals, instructions in use and maintenance of equipment, safety rules and procedures.