A Career As In Occupational Therapy Offers A Variety Of Specialty Options

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Gap Medics students ready for surgery! Occupational therapy is a specialty that focuses on assessing the functional limitations of people resulting from physical or mental issues or illnesses and providing the appropriate therapy to enable them to perform their daily activities and occupations.

Occupational Therapist Job Description

Occupational therapists specialise in assisting people with mental and physical disabilities in their working, home and social lives. They assess their patients’ physical, emotional and social needs, and help them develop practical everyday skills that enable them to participate in the community. Successful rehabilitation often involves liaising with family members, caregivers, other healthcare professionals and volunteers.

As an occupational therapist, part of your responsibility would include making modifications to your client’s home and work environments and organising assistive technologies such as computer-aided communications devices, wheelchairs and other mobility devices to minimise disruptions in their daily lives. For this you need to be skilled in using a variety of assessment tools to first establish your clients’ requirements.

Specialisation Options In Occupational Therapy

As an occupational therapist you can choose to undergo advanced training in a specialty that either focuses on a particular age group or on a particular condition. Here are some of the specialisation options you can choose from:

  • Disability Occupational Therapist

Focuses on helping people with physical and mental disabilities to lead functional lives

  • Paediatric Therapist 

Helps children with disabilities, learning difficulties or developmental problems

  • Aged Care Occupational Therapist

Works with elderly individuals who are in need of physical, emotional or social assistance

  • Psychiatric Occupational Therapist

Specialises in evaluating and helping people who suffer from behavioural disorders or any other type of mental illness so they can lead healthier lives

  • Occupational Health Officer

Focuses on assessing the safety of work environments and assisting injured workers with their rehabilitation

  • General Medicine Occupational Therapist

Usually works in a hospital setting and evaluates patients’ ability to undertake rehabilitation

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Officer

Helps with the rehabilitation of injured workers and facilitates their return to work

  • Health Promotion Officer

Focuses on helping people achieve a work-life healthy balance in their work, home and social lives

To practice as an occupational therapist you usually need to complete a Bachelor of Science majoring in occupational therapy. Curtin University and Edith Cowan University, both offer a 4-year, full time Bachelor of Science (Occupational Therapy) programme.

Desirable Characteristics

These are some of the personality traits that you should possess if you are considering a career in this field:

  • A friendly, caring and helpful nature
  • Strong organisational and motivational skills
  • Patience, tolerance and flexibility
  • Good problem-solving and lateral thinking skills
  • Excellent communication skills

Above all, you must enjoy helping and working with people

Work Settings & Salary

Occupational therapists can find employment in a wide variety of settings from hospitals, general practices and community health facilities to private businesses, aged care facilities and in the homes or workplaces of their clients. They may work independently or as part of a larger organisation, in groups or one-on-one with their clients.

As an occupational therapist you can expect to earn an average of about A $500 to A $2,000 a week, depending on your level of experience, your choice of specialty and the organisation you work for.

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