Essential Functions

What are the essential functions?

Essential functions describe required skills and abilities for completion of the Occupational Therapy Assistant 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

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

Sensory Capabilities

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

Communication Abilities

  1. 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.)
  2. Effectively adapt communication for intended audience.
  3. Interact and establish rapport with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural and intellectual backgrounds, treating all fairly and equally.
  4. Assume the role of a healthcare team member.
  5. Function effectively under supervision.

Problem Solving Abilities

  1. Function effectively under stress.
  2. Respond appropriately to emergencies.
  3. Adhere to infection control procedures.
  4. Demonstrate problem-solving skills in patient care. (Measure, calculate, reason, prioritize and synthesize data.)5. Use sound judgment and safety precautions.
  5. Address questions and/or problems to the appropriate person at the appropriate times.
  6. Organize and prioritize job tasks.
  7. Follow policies and procedures required by clinical and academic settings.
  8. Develop skills to choose appropriate treatment ideas to fit patient needs and capabilities.

Behavior Abilities

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