Snapshot Of A Career In Occupational Therapy

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Occupational therapy is a rapidly growing career field with numerous opportunities for those who wish to devote their professional lives to helping people with disabilities and injuries improve their quality of life. 

Occupational therapists employ a range of proven therapeutic measures to treat patients who have physical or mental limitations brought on by injuries, illnesses or disabilities. They work with patients to develop, recover and improve the skills they require for daily working and living.

Scrubbed up and ready to observe a day in surgery These professionals work in hospitals, clinics, nursing care facilities, private practice, community care centres, government agencies, public and private educational services, home health agencies and outpatient care services.

An occupational therapy job offers wide exposure to a variety of personalities, issues and situations that will tap into your compassion and creativity, making this a rewarding career for you if you who are passionate about helping others.

Job Description

As an occupational therapist, your primary role will be to teach patients with various disabilities how to work around their limitations, whether it is decreased motor skills or short term memory loss.

During the course of the day, you could see patients with a wide variety of challenges. Some patients may need assistance with daily tasks such as cooking, eating or getting dressed, while others need help with less tangible skills such as memory or decision-making.

You should be encouraging, patient, creative and adaptable, since every person, situation and work environment you encounter as an occupational therapist will be different. You’ll need to adapt a patient’s custom care and living environment to fit their unique needs.

Education And Training

An occupational therapist programme will cover topics such as neurobiology, functional anatomy, kinesiology, physiology, medical terminology, gerontology, mental health and therapeutic communication skills. You will also learn the foundations of occupational therapy and theoretical concepts and practice ideas of this specialty. In addition to the theory, all programmes will also include intensive fieldwork, which will give you ample hands-on experience in the types of places you will eventually work.

A master’s degree is the minimum requirement for being able to practice as an occupational therapist. The average master’s degree programme takes 2 ½ years to complete. The first year and a half is usually devoted to completing required course work in a classroom setting. During the last year, students are required to do at least 6 months of supervised fieldwork in a clinic or some kind of community organisation in order to gain hands-on experience before graduating.

Career Advancement & Expanding Job Opportunities

While the largest number of occupational therapy job opportunities exists in hospitals, occupational therapy opportunities are expanding across several areas such as:

  • Children and youth 
  • Community health and wellness 
  • Driver assessment and training
  • Elderly care  
  • Ergonomics consulting  
  • Technology development and consulting 

As you gain experience in this specialty, you can put your skills and knowledge to use in other industries as well. Experienced occupational therapists are in great demand to work with architects and contractors on how to improve building design and accessibility or as consultants with companies on ergonomic concerns for product construction.

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