The role of occupational therapists

Now more than ever, professionals are considering careers in the health care industry thanks to the seemingly endless opportunities and the stability that comes with them. When evaluating potential careers in health care, individuals must first have an understanding of what a career entails and which strengths and skills are necessary for success.

Compassion is needed in various health care scenarios and is one of the key traits of an occupational therapist. The online career resource Indeed says occupational therapists commonly work alongside physical therapists and other providers to offer therapeutic and rehabilitative treatment to patients. The goal of an OT is to use therapeutic approaches to help a patient perform routine tasks and activities that are common in daily life. These include tying shoes, getting dressed, combing hair, or actions involved with work.

According to the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, OTs help people to:
• learn new ways of doing things
• use materials or equipment that makes life easier
• regain skills or develop new ones
• adapt their environment to work better for them.

OTs work with a team of professionals to get people with injuries or health obstacles back to participating fully in life. Physical therapists may help people restore physical function, while occupational therapists focus on how that function affects the ability to do things.

Regis College advises that an OT will evaluate a patient’s condition and needs. Then specific goals will be established and a treatment plan to address needs will be made. By assessing a patient’s home and work environments, an OT can recommend adaptations to improve patients’ quality of life. An OT also can train patients and their caregivers regarding the use of special equipment.

OTs can work in various capacities, such as helping children develop handwriting or computer use to working with stroke patients to treating cognitive impairment. OTs work in schools, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, recreation centers, and private practices.

It can take two to four years to earn a degree in occupational therapy. Indeed says occupational therapists are generally required to hold a minimum of an associate’s degree to work as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). Others have a bachelor’s degree along with their occupational therapist certification.

Occupational therapists play vital roles within the health care industry.

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