What does an Occupational Therapist (OT) do?
An occupational therapist is a health care professional who helps individuals accomplish day-to-day tasks. This career field can be termed as a holistic profession because of its all-inclusive caring of an individual in their every day responsibilities, needs, and wants. The primary goal is to help individuals enhance their quality of life after illness or injury that may prevent them from doing things they had before. Occupational therapists also work with a variety of age groups, from pediatrics to elder care.
How to become an Occupational Therapist
There are different levels of education or training that you need to become an occupational therapist. You need a bachelor's degree that includes biology, sociology, or psychology coursework. Some universities offer combined bachelor's and master's degree programs, though they are very limited. To become an Occupational Therapist however, you ultimitely need your master's degree.
There are many approaches to occupational therapy and you need to ensure that you pick a program that is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. You can find a list of accredited programs on the American Occupational Therapy Association website.
Most master's degree programs are 2-3 years long and include several weeks of fieldwork. Once you have earned your degree from an accredited university - you are eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists exam. Upon passing this exam, you will be certified and will have the license to practice occupational therapy. In order to maintain your license you must complete continuing education during your career, which also allows you to specialize in other areas of interest such as hand therapy, pediatrics, technology, vision, or mental illnesses.
Job Description of an Occupational Therapist
The job profile of an occupation therapist is quite diverse. There is also not one defined job profile because not every occupational therapist has the same approach or methods to achieve the desired results.
At the basic levels, occupational therapy deals with a person's life with due consideration to every aspect of his or her lifestyle. Occupational therapy deals with a person's health, fitness, and illness. Holistic health care is integral to occupational therapy. Along with that, work related problems, familial issues, and psychological or emotional concerns are also discussed. Any problem that a person has with his or her health, personal and social life, profession, and leisure and goals in life, can be addressed by an occupational therapist.