An Occupational Therapist is a health care professional who helps patients to regain their independence. This independence is generally lost through physical injury, physical disability, mental disability, emotional disability, or age. Occupational therapists can choose to specialize in one of these various areas, or may be willing to help all who need to regain their independence.
Occupational therapists help these patients to regain this independence through helping them to re-learn some of the more basic tasks of every day life. Therapists are going to learn how to help patients regain basic motor skills and functions. Patients who have gone through some form of physical injury will re-learn how to perform daily activities like putting on clothes, making food, eating food, and keeping up with personal hygiene.
These health care professionals will also help individuals to learn how to use tools that are necessary for their everyday lives, new tools that are needed due to permanent injuries or issues. These pieces of adaptive equipment are new to the patient. Occupational therapists must be knowledgeable in these different tools and must be able to work with patients as they learn how to use the tools in their every day lives.
Occupational therapists are expected to work with technology, helping patients to work with technology and use it to their advantage. This is generally required for patients who are looking to get back into the workplace. Therapists may be expected to help to design special pieces of equipment or special programs that will help to make the life of the patient easier.
Those who are interested in becoming an occupational therapist should know that there is plenty of education in their future. Those who wish to be occupational therapists are going to find that they must go through extensive education, with a Master’s degree the general minimum for those who are looking to enter the field. Students will be expected to complete both undergraduate and graduate work in the field, and must do so at a school that is accredited by the ACOTE (Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education).
Students will tackle a variety of course work throughout their undergraduate and graduate school careers. Students will take courses in biology, anatomy, sociology, psychology, and chemistry while also tackling courses specifically designed around Occupational Therapy practices, treatments, and theory.
Students who go through their master’s program will be expected to go through a minimum of 24 weeks of fieldwork, that is supervised, in the field. They must also pass the national board exams for Occupational Therapy.
There are plenty of opportunities for advancement in the Occupational Therapist field, with an expected growth of over 25 percent in the next ten years. Occupational therapists are likely to find work with those who are growing older, as numbers of those aging and numbers of those with disabilities continue to rise. If you have a passion for others and would like to help individuals to regain some of the independence they may have lost, this is the right career field for your future.