The job of an occupational therapist includes treating the disabled, ill, or injured patients with special equipment as well as the therapeutic use of daily activities. Their main goal is to help patients improve, regain, as well as develop the skills needed to carry out day-to-day life and work. Often, an occupational therapist may provide long-term patient care and acute patient care.
Areas of sub-specialties of an occupational therapist
- Orthopedics and injuries;
- Critical Care
- Driving and mobility rehabilitation
- Physical Rehabilitation
- Vision therapy
- Hand therapy as well as
- School system specialty
Duties and Responsibilities of an Occupational Therapist
The client-centered nature of an occupational therapist’s job can be both intrinsically enriching since you are in a position to provide care and help to patients. Still, it can also lead to physical and emotional stress at times. Below are some of the expected duties and responsibilities of an occupational therapist irrespective of where they choose to work.
- Listening to patients’ concerns and complaints
- Interact with patients and take a detailed case history
- Review and maintain patients’ medical history
- Analyze the test results of the patients
- Assess the condition and the needs of patients from time to time
- Evaluate a patient’s capability to perform different tasks
- Discuss the patient’s conditions with physicians, other medical professionals, patient’s family, therapists, and other members of a patient’s care team
- Study the patient’s medical history and then develop a realistic treatment plan for patients. (Ideally, such a plan will have several milestones, specific goals, and tasks that will help them meet those goals)
- Demonstrate exercises for the patient
- The job of an occupational therapist also include providing support to the patient as well as their family members.
- Create a pain management plan
- Go through a patient’s home or workplace in order to identify potential improvements.
- Educate patient’s family about how to help care for as well as accommodate the patient
- Recommend and teach patients how to use adaptive equipment. Such equipment like wheelchairs and eating aids will help patients with daily living.
- Assess patients’ progress against the outlined milestones and goal
- If required, plan lifestyle changes for patients as well as motivate them to incorporate these changes.
- Prepare reports for healthcare providers as well as insurance agencies
- Take part in the latest seminars, webinars, and training to cater to the needs of a patient.
Skills required for the job of an occupational therapist
To be a successful occupational therapist, you need to have adequate experience working with patients in the field. Apart from this, one must also possess the following skills.
- Have a passion for the task
- Possess a caring, empathic, and compassionate personality
- The desire to help others and improve their healthcare
- Critical thinking as well as problem-solving skills
- Be a good listener
- Patience and tolerance
- Commitment to delivering high-quality care
- Excellent verbal as well as non-verbal communication skills
- Strong organizational skills
- The job of an occupational therapist also includes multi-tasking and working well with other medical professionals.
- The ability to stay calm while working with complex patients
- React quickly and effectively in stressful times
Educational Requirements for the job of an occupational therapist
- Get a bachelor’s degree in biology, psychology, anthropology, or anatomy from a school accredited by the American Occupational Therapist Association site. (ACOTE)
- Obtain a master’s degree in Occupational therapy
- Appear for the test conducted by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.
- Once you clear this exam, you are then eligible to apply for a license to practice as an occupational therapist.
Salary and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook of an occupational therapist is quite a promising one, with an expected growth of almost 18% by the year 2028. Apart from this, the job of an occupational therapist offers several lucrative benefits as well as other incentives. Some of these include:
- Relaxed working hours
- Medical, dental, as well as vision insurance
- Life and disability insurance
- A decent retirement plan (in most cases 401(k) retirement plan)
- Paid leaves (including sick leaves, personal leaves as well as vacations)
- Stipend for continued education
On the other hand, an occupational therapist can earn somewhere between $54,560 to $120,440 annually based on their education, experience level, location, and industry. Nonetheless, with so many benefits and more, the job of an occupational therapist is indeed worth considering when deciding a career path.