Essential Functions

Essential functions describe required skills and abilities for completion of the OTA program and to work as a generalist occupational therapy assistant. This list is a summary of essential functions students are required to meet throughout program coursework and fieldwork experiences. Additional information can be found at

Motor Capabilities:

  • Move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces
  • Transfer patients who may require physical assistance
  • Guard and assist patients with ambulation, dressing, grooming and feeding tasks.
  • Perform therapeutic techniques, including applying resistance during exercise.
  • Lift and carry up to 50 pounds and exert up to 100 pounds of force (push/pull)
  • Squat, crawl, bend/stoop, reach above shoulder level, kneel, use standing balance, and climb stairs.
  • Use hands repetitively; use manual dexterity.
  • Adjust, apply, and clean therapeutic equipment.
  • Perform CPR. 
  • Travel to and from academic and clinical sites.
  • In the average clinical day, students sit 1-2 hours, stand 6-7 hours and travel 1-3 hours.

Sensory Capabilities:

  • Convey verbal and manual instruction.
  • Assess patient’s posture and response to treatment.
  • Respond in a timely manner to a timer, alarm or cries for help.
  • Monitor vital signs, changes in patient status, skin changes, etc.
  • Auditory, visual, and tactile abilities sufficient to assess patient status and perform treatments.

Communication Abilities:

  • Communicate effectively, concisely and accurately in English with patients, families and other healthcare providers; both verbal and written. (Examples: explain treatment procedures, teach patients and caregivers, document in charts.)
  • Effectively adapt communication for intended audience.
  • Interact and establish rapport with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds, treating all fairly and equally.
  • Assume the role of a healthcare team member.
  • Function effectively under supervision.

Problem Solving Abilities:

  • Function effectively under stress.
  • Respond appropriately to emergencies.
  • Adhere to infection control procedures.
  • Demonstrate problem-solving skills in patient care. (Measure, calculate, reason, prioritize and synthesize data.)
  • Use sound judgment and safety precautions.
  • Address questions and/or problems to the appropriate person at the appropriate times.
  • Organize and prioritize job tasks.
  • Follow policies and procedures required by clinical and academic settings.
  • Develop skills to choose appropriate treatment ideas to fit patient needs and capabilities.

Behavior Abilities:

  • Maintain patient confidentiality in accordance with site policies and applicable laws.
  • Demonstrate self-control, keeping emotions in check and controlling anger even in difficult situations.
  • Take constructive criticism and apply it to improve behavior and skills.
  • Manage time effectively.
  • Demonstrate conduct reflecting in a professional and ethical manner at all times.
  • Demonstrate reliability, responsibility, dependability and fulfillment of obligations.