Careers in Occupational Therapy

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Written by James Prew

 

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics - The Professional role of "Occupational Therapists" in the health care industry is to: Assess, plan, organize, and participate in habilitative or rehabilitative programs that help build or restore vocational, homemaking, and daily living skills, as well as maintaining general independence and wellness for persons with disabilities, chronic health conditions, or developmental delays.

For those seeking a career in Occupational Therapy it's important to know that at the hands-on level it can be both a satisfying and a challenging experience. It is a privilege to be able to work with people to facilitate return of function, learning or re-acquiring skills, or making healthful behavior changes.  The challenges come because we may work in settings where a client we've grown to know may experience further deterioration in health status, have a poor prognosis, or who may die. Working in some settings requires meeting a high volume caseload while simultaneously giving cost-efficient and budget restricted care.

But then there is that one client, who has endured the loss of a limb or cognitive function and they overcome limitations - because of the skill, compassion and willingness of an occupational therapist to dig in...these are the moments that make a career in OT a satisfying vocation...

It takes a special kind of person to be an occupational therapist.

Many OT educational institutions look for the presence of special qualities and attitudes in their applicants before accepting them into a program. Among these are patience, empathy, and compassion. One should also be able to demonstrate a capacity for creativity, invention and innovation as well, because at times the OT will be called upon to make certain modifications to a clients home environment or fashion a device or tool necessary to restore client function. Most important of all, one must be committed to support an outcome that benefits not only the client, but also the clients family, the community where clients live, and in so doing; promotes the ethics and values of occupational therapy as a profession.

The profession of Occupational Therapy is often misunderstood. We are Not! home-health aides, physical therapists, RNs, LVNs, CNAs, psychoanalyists or masseuses. Legislative bodies, regulatory agencies, and even other medical professionals, frequently fail to recognize the distinct characteristics that make our practice unique. OT is Our Profession – We Are its Ambassadors - Protecting our livelihood should not be last on the list...

As a Career Choice occupational therapy requires a huge commitment of your time and resources, because it is not bound by a single discipline. Prerequistes for most programs include Anatomy, Physiology, Developmental and Abnormal Psychology, Technical/professional Writing and Statistics. Often applicants are asked to volunteer 200 hours or more at a clinic or rehabilitation facility in order to learn first-hand if a career in OT is the right choice for them.

This is highly recommended considering that the Typical Tuition can range from about $40,000.00 to as much as $100,000.00 or more depending upon the program and type of degree one seeks. Essentially this means that if you attain the degree, pass the NBCOT exams, are granted a licence to practice in your state – you'll spend the next 15 to 30 years of your life paying off the debt you've accrued.

Still Interested? Visit the New Mexico Academic Programs Guide to learn more.

 


Employment Trends in Occupational Therapy:

US Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291122.htm

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