Occupational Therapists help patients with physical, emotional or mental disabilities to regain the most use possible of fine and large motor skills, as well as mental, reasoning and though processes. These professionals work in hospitals, established medical and educational facilities or visit people in their own home or nursing facility. Therapists work with patients of all ages, mostly with the mentally or physically handicapped and elderly. They also work with those who have had accidents from which disabilities were sustained. Occupational Therapists should have a positive attitude, patience and the desire to help others. Skills such as these are required and practiced on a daily basis. Good written and verbal communication skills are necessary to effectively communicate with patients.
The practice of occupational therapy requires a masters degree or doctorate. Check out the programs below which offer free information:
Occupational Therapist Job Responsibilities
In order to maintain a job and perform daily living activities, people must use their fingers, hands and the muscles that support them. When a person becomes temporarily or permanently disabled, Occupational Therapists help them regain optimal usage of their motor skills. After completing approved training, these professionals will meet with their patients and assess their needs. Once patient needs have been identified, the Occupational Therapist will formulate a care plan, which is a program including what is needed for recovery. Physical exercises are often used to strengthen muscles and regain usage of affected body parts, such as regaining the use of a hand after a stroke. Therapists also provide adaptive tools to complete tasks, teaching the patient how to use them properly.
Programs for enhancing memory, thought processes and reasoning are also required for those who need mental or emotional therapy. During the therapy program, the therapist must record progress in their documentation. By analyzing this data, they are then able to make adjustments to care plans as needed. Therapists are required to obtain continuing education classes in some states; this information is available from each individual state’s licensing division. Documents prepared by Occupational Therapists must be orderly and accurate, as they are subject to state inspections. States perform an inspection each year; whether a therapist works independently or in association with an established facility, they must maintain records and show them upon request. Discrepancies or missing information is a serious offense and may be counted as a deficiency against the facility or therapist.
Occupational Therapist Training And Education Requirements
In order to become an Occupational Therapist, a minimum of a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy is required. Earning this type of degree usually takes about 5 or 6 years for full-time students. Classes related to this field are mostly scientific and of Biology, Social Science, Physics and Chemistry origins. Courses in Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, English or foreign languages are also required. Many of the pre-requisite and general education classes may be completed online – or by taking CLEP exams to test out of them. CLEP exams are taken in one day and generally earn several credit hours’ worth of college credit. Some of the required classes may be completed online, but several courses will require hands-on labs; the classes requiring these must be taken on a campus. One of the most important things to remember is to check a school’s accreditation status with the National Department of Education’s website before enrolling.
Occupational Therapist Salary And Wages
Wages vary between different types of institutions, with home care Occupational Therapists earning the highest wages. Average median salaries are between $66,000 and $67,000 per year. Recent graduates may expect to make slightly less than this until experience is gained. Usually the lower-paying positions are held by recent graduates. Positions in elementary schools were rated with the lowest pay scales, averaging barely more than $60,000 per year. Hospitals average about $68,000, while offices average about $69,000 per year. Occupational Therapists employed in nursing or convalescent facilities earn about $72,000 per year; home care therapists earn about $74,000 per year on average.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Occupational Therapist Certifications
Becoming certified in Occupational Therapy is a voluntary process. Certification is awarded by The National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy. After taking an exam and successfully passing, candidates are then given their Occupational Therapist Registered, also called OTR, certification. Certain states have their own individual licensing requirements and programs, while the national requirements regulate every other state. These therapists are required to take continuing education courses to maintain their certification. Most states now require continuing education, as specified by the state, in order to maintain an Occupational Therapy license.
Occupational Therapist Professional Associations
The most popular professional association for Occupational Therapists is The American Occupational Therapy Association. In order to become a member, a professional must have their credentials. There is a fee for membership into this association. In order to view the up-to-date listing of fees and sign up online, Occupational Therapists may visit aota.org for complete information. Each state has an in-state Association for Occupational Therapy. By searching for the association and a state’s name, complete information may be found for each one. State membership fees are usually much less than the AOTA’s fees. Membership may be gained by signing up online; each state’s professional association for Occupational Therapists has a website.