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A future in Occupational Therapy
By Amber Gragert
If you know you would like to be in the healthcare industry but are not quite sure where you would fit, then you are a great candidate for an occupational therapy major. It is said that, "physical therapy teaches people how to walk, but occupational therapy teaches them to dance." They work with patients that are in some way disabled or impaired. This is a vocational degree with a great deal of firsthand work experience required in order to graduate.
There are a few different approaches you could take while working towards your future career. One of those is a pre-professional program in which you participate in an internship, or fieldwork education, along with your regular studies. This is essentially a pre-requisite program to take all the necessary classes needed in order to apply for an occupational therapy School. The coursework includes classes such as: anatomy and physiology, foundations of occupational therapy, and medical ethics. Taking part in a pre-professional program does not guarantee you that you will be accepted into a graduate program and completing the program also does not qualify you for certification of licensure. That is what graduate school is for.
The next option would be your typical master's-level educational program. During this program you will hone your skills and learn subjects such as anatomy and neuroscience, basic and advanced patient care skills, childhood development and disabilities, rehabilitation medicine and procedures, and prosthetic uses and limitations. All of these subjects prepare you for anything that comes your way as an occupational therapist.
Then there is doctoral-level coursework you could advance to. Those classes include ones such as: Changes in learning and behavior, leadership concepts and practices, OT program development, OT group practices, and technological advances in OT. These are all classes to catapult you to the next level and turn you into a leading player in this field - creating and teaching new techniques to the next class of occupational therapists.
Practicing therapists, and even their assistants, are all required to have licensing specific to each state; however, all therapists are required to take and pass a standard certification exam as well. This is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Through your internships, labs, and lectures you will discover the tried and true tools, as well as the newest and constantly advancing technologies and treatments to assist people with disabilities and disorders. Not only that, but you will be helping them lead healthier and happier lives through your internships and fieldwork in clinics and hospitals - not to mention your future employment. You could be helping people live more full and independent lives just by helping them master or often completely relearn everyday activities like dressing themselves or driving. Talk about a rewarding career!
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics anticipates a 27% growth in working occupational therapist’s positions between now and 2024. Job samples include: An art therapist, care manager, dance and movement psychotherapists, ergonomist, social worker, special education needs teacher, and sports therapist.