Many people interested in a medical career are often not aware of the field of Occupational Therapy. A career as an Occupational Therapist is both personally and financially rewarding. Occupational Therapists help patients with a wide number of conditions that include developmental disabilities, training patients with permanent disabilities to utilize adaptive equipment, motor skills rehabilitation, repair short term memory loss, improving decision making, as well as creating and implementing rehabilitation plans and evaluating a patient’s progress. Basically, Occupational Therapy is a type of therapy that helps people return to their previous occupations.
To become an Occupational Therapist, one needs to complete a university undergraduate degree in a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree program. The undergraduate degree usually takes four years and then one must obtain a graduate degree in Occupational Therapy. Occupational therapy courses include biology, physical, and behavioral sciences. Examples of specific classes include anatomy, kinesiology, developmental psychology, pathology, neurology, geriatrics, pediatrics..etc. There are also occupational therapy skills and theory courses. Included in the program is a 6 month work term. Occupational Therapy students must pass national and state examinations. Those who pass the exam are awarded the title, “Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR).” Some states have additional stipulations for therapists who work in such areas as schools or early intervention programs. These requirements can include an early intervention certification, an education practice certificate, or other education classes.
Occupational therapists are expected to continue their professional education by taking continuing education classes and workshops. In fact, a number of states stipulate continuing education as a requirement of maintaining licensure.
For those interested in a career in Occupational Therapy, taking high school courses in the sciences, physics, health, and social sciences, is recommended. Work experience, either paid or volunteer, is a highly valuable asset.
Occupational Therapy Jobs
Occupational therapists work in a wide variety of areas of the medical profession. They can work in schools, hospitals, children’s hospitals, home health, rehabilitation facilities, children’s clinics, nursing homes, home care, out-patient care, private practices, health boards, community mental health centers, clinics, halfway houses, groups homes, vocational programs, community action groups, and workers compensation boards.
They can also be found working as consultants for businesses, organizations, and governments. Government work can be in the areas of rehabilitation program development, health awareness and programs, disability prevention and management, accessibility, and vocational and health planning.
Occupational therapists are also finding employment as teachers in undergraduate and graduate health profession programs
Employment opportunities are expected to increase, especially for therapists who treat the elderly. They are also increasingly taking on more supervisory roles. Changing societal needs have caused an increased demand for Occupational Therapists. Some of these changes include:
– An increase in accident survival
– Increased disability awareness
– Aging population.
– Increase in stress, mental health issues, and personal and family issues
– Increase in public awareness about health issues
To be an Occupational Therapist, one needs to be patient, able to motivate others, be creative, and have strong interpersonal skills. Due to its wide variety of career options, people who become Occupational Therapists will find an area that is both rewarding and satisfying.