Do you think you like helping people live a healthy lifestyle that have experienced injury or illness. Then perhaps you might enjoy being an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists not only help individuals with injuries throughout their lifetime but assist in mental well being so that the patient can succeed in their daily lives. Occupational therapy is a form of holistic treatment that deals with physical ailments and cognitive and emotional issues that allows a patient to get on with their lives. Occupational therapists can be found in:
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Military arena
- Pediatric practice and other private practice
- Wellness programs
- Various community agencies
- Drug/substance abuse (state and local levels)
An occupational therapist is a skilled allied health professional who applies individualized therapy to patients who need it by way of physical and mental approaches.
Generally occupational therapists require a master’s degree, however you can go higher and achieve a doctoral degree. To start, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. You’ll also need to pass a college entrance exam (SAT/ACT). This is necessary to apply to a bachelor’s program and later apply to an occupational therapists program at the master’s level. When you receive your master’s degree, you’ll need to get certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and then be licensed by the state you studied in. Check out the American Occupational Therapy Association website at www.aota.org for more information on various programs and their accreditation and more info on certification and licensure. You’ll be pleased to know that you can take on campus coursework or do online.
Keep in mind that every occupational therapy program has somewhat different courses and requisites. Nevertheless, you’ll need to have biology, physiology, anatomy, psychology and sociology behind your from your undergrad program. If these courses don’t interest you, then perhaps occupational therapist is not for you. Whatever occupational therapist program you decide to go in make sure you check with that program to find out what you need to get into that program. This will prevent any delays in entering a master’s program.
Whether during or after your master’s program, you will be required to do what is called field work (Levels I and II) to gain hands-on experience. The fieldwork generally runs for 6 months and you will be supervised with an experienced occupational therapist.
Once you have fulfilled all the requirements for becoming an occupational therapist, it’s time to seek employment. Today, the computer is your easy way in to various positions available. There are a number of job search engines and all you need to do is key in “occupational therapist” and search. You can also contact local and state agencies that hire occupational therapists and make yourself known. These agencies include various branches of the military, public schools, nursing homes, hospitals and veteran’s affairs. All of these are great places to start. If you have a mind to, you can start up your own private practice.