Occupational therapists are a vital part of any rehabilitation team. They employ therapeutic practices and procedures to aid patient recovery from debilitating illnesses and disabilities. The job description for an occupational therapist is making the patient’s life more comfortable, less hampered by limitation, and quicken recovery through everyday tasks and activities. Occupational therapists are necessary for patients who are looking to manage their mental and physical well-being during admission or in outpatient care.
While physical therapists focus on actual physical workouts, the occupational therapist performs additional tasks. They evaluate patient disabilities, environment, and recovery plan. Their roles also extend to providing a suitable environment for people living with disabilities to live a relatively comfortable life. An occupational therapist focuses on helping a client perform routine and daily tasks, which allows individuals to adapt to living with a disability.
Occupational therapists are employed in different sectors of healthcare. They can be used as a part of a rehabilitation team for patients with disabilities, or as evaluators in Colleges and Universities. They are tasked with acquainting patients with routines that can make their lives as comfortable as possible. They demonstrate how to perform recovery exercises as well as teach patients how to operate and navigate medical equipment and devices.
Occupational therapists are also vital in childcare. Childhood mental and cognitive development is aided by occupational therapists. Children with developmental disorders are handled with care and with practical methods, helping them catch up to their peers. Occupational therapists help parents, guardians, and schools with suitable environments for children living with disabilities.
An occupational therapist also engages in elderly care. Helping seniors live a healthy, active life regardless of age or physical condition. Elderly accommodation quarters are assessed for dangers and hazards. Adjustments are made to such facilities to forestall accidents which given their ages could be fatal.
Functions of Occupational Therapists
An occupational therapist’s job description is varied but is mostly focused on providing comfort to people with permanent or temporary disabilities. An occupational therapist’s duties include:
- Patient Evaluation
Occupational therapists will review a patient’s medical history, physical, and mental condition to get a baseline of their abilities. Through evaluation, they can create an effective recovery plan through exercises or the patient’s daily routine. As rehabilitation continues, an occupational therapist will assess the patient’s recovery progress making adjustments when necessary. Patient evaluation is required to prevent overloading a recovering patient beyond his/her current ability.
- Creating A Unique Treatment Plan
After evaluation, occupational therapists generate a treatment plan which is tailored to the unique circumstances of the individual. Appropriate exercises are recommended and also demonstrated for ease. Recovery aids are also prescribed and properly fitted.
Occupational therapy is focused on providing patients with as much comfort and functionality they can get. Occupational therapists have to create treatment plans that will best suit the needs of each patient. They are tasked with coming up with new innovative methods to help patients effectively manage their disabilities and return to their normal routine.
- Coordinating With Care Team
Occupational therapists liaison with other healthcare practitioners: doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists, among others, to provide comprehensive, all-encompassing healthcare to the patient. An occupational therapist is usually concerned with aftercare, for instance, giving rehabilitation after a medical procedure or as a part of the patient’s treatment and recovery process.
- Patient and Caregiver Education
Occupational therapists are tasked with educating patients on appropriate techniques to aid recovery or lead a relatively comfortable life. They train the patient’s on proper exercises and also teach them how to operate medical equipment at home. Recommendations are also given on general well-being as well as activities that should either be avoided or encouraged.
Occupational therapists also work with the patient’s caregivers, parents, guardians, or spouses. Advice is given on how to provide optimal conditions to aid their wards recovery. Since the bulk of monitoring and patient welfare now rests on the caregivers, they must be adequately prepped for the challenged ahead which is where an occupational therapy steps in.
- Home and Work Place Adjustments
Occupational therapists are employed to have a thorough inspection of both home and workplace environments. They evaluate the suitability to the physical or mental condition of the patient. Adjustments are made to make it more accessible by removing hazards, triggers and other things that may hinder recovery. An occupational therapist makes recommendations to the workplace, or school on how to better accommodate disabled individuals by installing specific props and removing others.
- Administrative Tasks
Occupational therapists may be tasked with some of the more administrative roles on a rehabilitation team. They may have to prepare briefs to take notes and create case reports for the rest of the medical team.
Required Attributes for Occupational Therapy
Due to their proximity and vital role in rehabilitation and recovery, occupational therapists are expected to exude professionalism as well as possessing personable skills.
Here are some of the attributes a qualified, fully licensed, occupational therapist possesses:
- Strong Social Skills
Occupational therapists are tasked with communicating with not only patients but also their caregivers. Interpersonal skills are needed to help them navigate through the feelings of clients and adequately address their issues. Occupational therapists must be empathetic and be able to place themselves in the shoes of their clients to create a recovery plan that fits such an individual.
It is essential to endure, persist, and patiently deal with patients. The recovery and rehabilitation process, at times, takes longer than expected. Occupational therapists must help their patients with trying new treatment plans to see which one provides the most value. Patients, due to their medical condition, can be frustrated by the pace of their recovery- it is the occupational therapist’s task to help them remain focused and committed to a recovery plan.
Occupational therapists employ innovative methods towards helping their patients recover. They have to create customized treatment plans based on individual needs and conditions so they must be flexible in their process. Since each patient is different, the therapist cannot employ one unified rehabilitation plan for everyone and adaptive, and creative strategies are used.
- Communication Skills
An occupational therapist must possess proper writing and speaking skills. Record keeping is vital to the patient’s progress must be logged along with their existing medical records. Briefs will also be prepared for other members of the patient’s medical team.
Educational and Regulatory Requirements
Occupational therapists require at least a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree to be fully licensed. Degrees in occupational therapy must also be from a university accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education in the United States of America. Occupational therapists must also pass an examination conducted by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy as well as complete at least six months of compulsory fieldwork before they are fully licensed to practice occupational therapy.
Occupational Therapy: Career Benefits
Occupational therapy is decisively empathetic, providing assistance and relief to people in pain. Occupation therapists devote their lives to helping patients adjust and adapt to medical episodes.
Here are some of the added benefits of being an occupational therapist:
- Highly Rewarding Pay
Due to the nature of their jobs, occupational therapists are highly rewarded. They earn far above the national median wage, making occupational therapy one of the most rewarding careers today. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapists earn a median salary of $83,200, or $40/hour. The highest earners make as high as $120,000 per year, firmly establishing occupational therapy as a lucrative profession.
- Employment Opportunities
Occupational therapy is a profession that keeps expanding the employment opportunities continue to grow at a rate faster than average. The job outlook for occupational therapists is 24%, much higher than comparable professions. The price of employment is projected to keep growing and expanding in the upcoming years.
Occupational therapists are employed in both public and healthcare facilities. The need for the expertise of an occupational therapist is always in demand. Places such as hospitals, mental health institutions, schools, corporations and nursing homes are just a few of the most prominent employers of occupational therapists.
Occupational therapists can also go into private practice and engage with clients who seek out their services. Occupational therapy has a high demand rate coupled with the stringent educational and professional qualifications (getting fully licensed), the number of qualified occupational therapists is insufficient. Employment rates are further boosted with the existence of reputable therapist’s networks allowing convenient job scouting.
- High Job Satisfaction
Occupational therapy is widely regarded as a highly satisfying profession. The salary, along with the relatively low workplace stress, has led to occupational therapy being named one of the best jobs to have in the U.S.A. It is also consistently ranked as one of the top ten positions to have in the healthcare industry.
Occupational therapy allows practitioners directly influence the society by improving the lives of those living with illnesses and disabilities. The value added to society is one of the biggest draws to the profession. It represents a personal service to mankind providing care to people in need of it.
The opportunity to help people return to their regular routines after an accident or significant illness is one that delights many prospective occupational therapists. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages- infants and toddlers with developmental disorders; adults with mental disorders and disabilities; seniors looking to maintain an active functional life. The job experience is one that brings great satisfaction to practitioners.
- Diverse Specialties
Occupational therapy has extensive job opportunities and depending on their preferences; therapists can specialize on any one of the following divisions.
- Pediatric Care
Occupational therapists can deal mainly with children in the field of pediatrics. They help children with disabilities or developmental disorders adapt and cope with the environment they find themselves in. Occupational therapists in this specialization will work majorly with parents, guardians, and schools, to provide a comfortable environment for the child in care. The focus is on helping the child make steady progress in both mental and cognitive development.
- Mental Healthcare
Occupational therapists can also focus majorly on helping patients with psychological disorders. They create programs to help people manage their mental disorders. Occupational therapists deal with patients suffering from mood and anxiety disorders, PTSD, depression, etc.
Occupational therapists will help such individuals minimize the effect these mental disorders have on their lives. Occupational therapists will help patients identify potential triggers as well as creating effective coping strategies for dealing with them.
- Geriatrics/Elderly Care
Occupational therapy is a vital part of elderly care. Senior citizens are given instructions on how to continue to live a healthy active and functional life. Their physical conditioning is evaluated to help determine the full extent of their abilities. Occupational therapy in geriatrics also includes preparing a functional home and work environment for such seniors. Health hazards are identified and removed from their vicinity to prevent accidents.
- Physical Rehabilitation
This is a type of physiological therapy, helping people manage temporary or permanent disabilities. Occupational therapists in this field will deal with patients involved in accidents and those who have suffered a stroke, or other neurodegenerative medical conditions. The goal of occupational therapy is to help people with disabilities return to their day to day lives, returning to their regular routines while they recover in the process. Occupational therapists in this field are trained in kinesiology as well as knowledge on a wide range of different type’s physical disabilities.
- Networking and Socializing
Occupational therapists can work in various organizations and may have to travel for work. This mobility allows for countless networking opportunities. They interact with other healthcare practitioners usually as members of a patient’s rehabilitation team. Occupational therapists also boost their employment opportunities by being a part of a therapist network connecting professionals across the country. Occupational therapy allows practitioners the opportunity to meet a variety of interesting people in the course of their career.
Occupational therapy is a career filled with willing, selfless, and helpful professionals. Medical facilities and other organizations in requiring the services highly qualified and personable occupational therapists are welcome to contact Essential Healthcare Staffing for a streamlined hiring process. We connect occupational therapists to those in need of their therapeutic expertise.
Essential Healthcare Staffing, the premier therapist network, has seasoned therapists who understand the intricacies of the healthcare profession. We provide unparalleled employment opportunities to our vast network of therapists worldwide. Our occupational therapists are placed in suitable working environments and also get to connect with like-minded people. Maximize your career potential by contacting us today.