School OTs: Benefits and Best Practices in Working with Occupational Therapy Assistants

Hero blog OT
Cross Country Education
March 10, 2021 03:18 AM (GMT-04:00)

If you’re a school-based occupational therapist (OT) who has had the fortune of having an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), you know what a productive and positive arrangement it can be! Here’s some insight from one of our school OTs about the benefits of working with OTAs as well as requirements and best practices for OTA supervision in the school-based setting.

Two Heads are Better than One: The OT-OTA Relationship

I thoroughly enjoy working with OTAs in my school-based practice, and the saying ‘two heads are better than one’ definitely applies here. It is helpful and effective to have two professionals working on treatment planning and goal achievement with the same caseload of students.

California OTA Supervision Requirements for OTs

One of the best ways to ensure the OT-OTA relationship runs smoothly and is in compliance with state law is for the OT to be an effective supervisor. Here is a brief summary of the OTA supervision requirements per the California Board of Occupational Therapy Regulations. OTA supervision requirements differ from state to state, so it is important to stay updated on the regulations in the state(s) where you are licensed.

  • The OT must review the OT plan and implementation of all clients on a weekly basis, either onsite or via telecommunication.
  • The OT must review the OT plans and implementation of all clients onsite every 30 days.
  • Documentation of the supervision should include any direct client care by the OT, documentation of review of the OTA’s treatment record and services, or co-signature of the OTA documentation.
  • The OT should be available either in person or by telecommunication to the OTA at all times when OTA is providing OT services.
  • The OT should supervise and observe the OTA treatment onsite every 30 days.
  • The OT is responsible for all OT services provided by the OTA. The OT is responsible for following the progress of each client, providing direct care to the client and ensuring the OTA is not functioning autonomously.
  • The level of supervision required is determined by the OT based on the knowledge, skills and ability of the person being supervised.

OT Supervision: Best Practices for OTs

Once these requirements are met, it is up to the OT to determine what further supervision activities are necessary and helpful. Here are some best practices to ensure your OT-OTA relationship remains strong in order to provide effective and student-centered occupational therapy.

  • Set a weekly time for OT-OTA check-ins to ensure both parties are accountable for the weekly supervision.
  • Create a shared document to document supervision. Per AOTA guidelines, supervision documentation should include the date of supervisory contact, the methods or types of supervision, the content areas addressed, and the names and credentials of the persons participating in the supervisory process.
  • Create a shared calendar to allow both parties to schedule in-person onsite supervision.

School-Based Opportunities for OTs

We hope you find these best practices and requirements a useful addition to your OT toolkit! If you’re an OT or OTA seeking your next adventure, please join our talent network!

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