Occupational therapy is a rewarding and fulfilling career choice if you like working with people and enjoy problem solving.
An occupational therapist's role is to help individuals overcome the limiting effects of disability, whether that has been present since birth, or has been brought about by age, illness or accident.
An occupational therapist gets to know a patient well, and devises a programme to help them lead a full life, taking into account their needs, goals and wishes.
This might involve teaching the patient to use special equipment, or coaching them to overcome certain challenges.
You will help patients rebuild any lost skills, and help them to improve their self-confidence and self-esteem too.
How to Train as an Occupational Therapist
The most common route into occupational therapy is via a full time, three year degree programme.
Two thirds of this will be spent studying occupational therapy theory along with biological and behavioural sciences, while the final third will be spent on supervised clinical placements where you will have your own workload.
For those already working in a related or complementary health profession, accelerated, part-time and in-service training programmes are available.
Career opportunities are good in occupational therapy, and there are many chances to specialise. Some therapists specialise by patient, for instance choosing to concentrate on older patients, children, or mental health patients. Some specialise by type of work, for instance choosing to focus on helping people back into work, or on the design and use of adaptive equipment.
Occupational therapists work in a wide range of settings, from major hospitals to prisons and community based centres.
You may be visiting patients in their own homes or even at work. As you progress up the career ladder, there are opportunities to take charge of programmes and centres.
Personal Qualities Needed
Good occupational therapists need patience and compassion, as rehabilitation is an ongoing and often lengthy process for patients.
Lateral thinking is a good skill to have, as you will need to help patients find ways to overcome their own unique problems and challenges.
If you enjoy finding solutions and are good with people, then occupational therapy could be an excellent career choice for you.