What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is an offshoot of health-care that concerns itself with helping people to perform the daily tasks of life, the way they want to, by overcoming their physical, mental, emotional or developmental barriers. Occupational therapy is a massively diverse area and depending on who your clients are, the scope of work is fairly varied. Patients of occupational therapy come from different age groups- you could be dealing with disabled children or elderly people suffering from physical or cognitive ailments or you may be dealing with victims of occupational hazards. Basically, occupational therapy helps people from all age groups and various professions get back to their everyday tasks by addressing their individual problems in a highly scientific and customized manner.
What does an occupational therapy assistant/occupational therapist actually do?
Occupational therapists are required to undertake a highly individualized evaluation of the client’s problems and personal goals. In the identification of the same, the client and/or his family plays a crucial role. Then he must design a customized scientific intervention plan to help his client regain his ability to perform these daily activities. The occupational therapist has to also examine the client’s home and surroundings and provide recommendations for adaptive training and equipments, if required. He may also advise training for family members and caregivers- in so doing, the occupational therapist holistically tries to tackle his patient’s problems- ensuring that he remains concerned not only with his patient, but also touches upon his environment and the people around him- that can actually play a very strong role in his recovery. As the patient moves closer to his goals, the occupational therapist must undertake an outcomes evaluation to ensure that his targets are being achieved as planned.
Occupational therapy jobs seem to be on the rise and the demand for occupational therapists is expected to increase in the coming years. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 29% employment growth is expected between 2012 and 2022- so, if you’ve been considering a career in this field, go right ahead!
Occupational Therapy Salary
As per Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for occupational therapists stands at $76,940 in 2013. Those occupational therapists who work in home health care services are paid quite high. Occupational therapists working in the metropolitan areas of Las Vegas, Laredo, Texas, Spartanburg and South Carolina are very well compensated.
Occupational Therapy education requirements
In order to practice as a licensed occupational therapist, you need to hold a bachelor’s and a master’s degree- once you graduate from a university that’s recognized by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy education, you’ll need to pass a test conducted by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. You must also undertake supervised fieldwork that generally runs into 24 weeks, before you can get a license.
The occupational therapy career is a maze of opportunities- there’s pediatrics, mental health, physical rehabilitation, teaching, clinical practice, occupational justice and more. Once you’ve identified your niche area, you have to just work towards this really brilliant, challenging and interesting career.