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Career Profile: Occupational Therapy Assistant - Nancy M. Bernier

Career Profile: Occupational Therapy Assistant - Nancy M. Bernier

Nancy M. Bernier, Occupational Therapy Assistant (contractor), Occupational Therapy Department, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

My typical day starts with inpatient rehabilitation. I review service requests from the doctors and new patients are added to my responsibilities from time to time. I usually work with the same patient over a long period of time. For example, I typically spend an hour a day for 5-6 months with my soldier patients, and 7 days with a heart bypass patient. Each session will last about 30 to 60 minutes and involves patient education. Patients are then asked to practice their new skills at home or in their hospital room.

Is Occupational Therapy the Right Place for You?

1. Are you comfortable in a position of authority?

Of course!

My activities are different from the occupational therapist since I am not involved in an initial evaluation of the patient, or in setting goals for the patient. I also do not have the extensive paperwork to complete like the OT.

Additional Responsibilities:

• Family training – I help train family members to assist the patient when they return home.
• Clinical instruction – I also provide clinical instruction to new students. In the military, the student has 6 months of academic training, then 4 months of on-the-job training.

What I like best/least about my work…

What I like best about my work is to see the patient progress to become functional and independent and return to his/her normal life.

What I like least about my work is when we have a heavy patient load. Time is the factor. You can only do so much if you have a limited amount of time to work with a great number of patients. I always prefer to schedule at least an hour with each patient so they don’t feel rushed.

My career goals are…

My career goals are to work until I am eligible for retirement and then to work part-time as needed. I also plan to update my skills with continuing education credits.

Find out more about becoming an occupational therapy assistant!

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