Rachel Hockaday is a Dierks resident who graduated from UA Cossatot in December of 2014 with an Associate of Applied Science: Occupational Therapy Assistant degree. Since graduating, Hockaday has spent the last four and a half years working as an occupational therapy assistant helping others in her community and the surrounding area.
After graduating from De Queen High School in 2012, Hockaday chose to pursue a career in the medical field as an OTA. She was inspired to do this based on the extensive outpatient therapy she received at the age of 12, due to a dislocated shoulder.
Hockaday said, “I initially planned to start credits with UA Cossatot and then transfer to a four-year university. When I was a senior in high school, UA Cossatot announced the start of their OTA program, and I instantly became interested. The cost of continuing my education away from home was going to be a challenge. I also knew UA Cossatot would be offering the same degree close to home without the financial stress.”
Hockaday added, “My mother completed her nursing degree at UA Cossatot around the time I was graduating high school, and she encouraged me to apply. After thinking everything over, I knew that UA Cossatot was where I wanted to start and complete my college education.”
Hockaday took her pre-requisite classes first and then was accepted into UA Cossatot’s OTA program in the summer of 2013. In the program, Hockaday and her classmates covered different areas of therapy. She was able to learn about physical dysfunctions, mental health, and pediatrics concerning occupational therapy, while also getting the chance to experience clinicals.
“UA Cossatot’s OTA program is a very fast-paced medical program. Students who are in the program learn something new every day. They are pushed to the limit to become the best version of themselves and the best OTA that they can be,” said Hockaday.
Once she graduated, she then took her NBCOT (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy) exam to become a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). In 2015 she began her career at De Queen Therapy and Living Center and Glenwood Health and Rehab. In 2018 she became the director of Rehabilitation at Dierks Health and Rehab. After gaining 10 months of experience as a director of rehabilitation, she then transitioned into home healthcare this past November with Amedisys Home Health of De Queen.
Hockaday said, “I’ve enjoyed all of my OTA work experiences, but I’m really enjoying home health. I have been able to travel in city and rural areas of Southwest Arkansas, and I love being able to serve my home town and region. I am very blessed to have stayed in this area for my education and career.”
When asked what her favorite thing about her job is as an OTA, Hockaday said, “I love the connection I get to make with my clients. I am able to connect with them on a personal level and sometimes at the most vulnerable times of their life. As an OTA, I can focus on what is important to them and help improve their quality of life by regaining their ability to complete those tasks.”
Hockaday was in UA Cossatot’s second OTA graduating class. During her time at UA Cossatot, Hockaday said she enjoyed the small classes and the local professors. Hockaday said,” I feel that my college experience was a very personalized experience, and the professors were very supportive.”