Choosing a career in the healthcare industry can be satisfying as you get to help others, however sometimes it can be a little overwhelming with full on hours and one too many tragedies taking its toll. Healthcare workers are caring, empathetic and often selfless, pouring their hearts and time into caring for others, which can be a little draining when you don’t get much in return.
In the field of Occupational Therapy (OT) you need all these same traits, you get to make an impact on the lives of many, helping them to keep doing the things they love, but the hours can be more flexible and the rewards greater. Occupational therapy currently ranks as No. 4 for the top jobs in America in 2019, which falls largely down to high job satisfaction.
The OT industry is also rapidly growing in pace with the ageing populations of many countries worldwide, so job security is more certain if you take this route. However assisting the elderly isn’t the only focus of an occupational therapist, there are many paths that it can take you down, and you don’t have to stick to just one. Let’s take a closer look at what you might encounter on this career path.
The general idea is to enable injured, ill or disabled people to carry out activities that are meaningful to them in creative and purposeful ways. This can be anything from implementing basic, essential life skills such as carrying out hygiene and being able to feed themselves, to instrumental activities like expressing religion or caring for others, all the way up to facilitating work, leisure and social activities.
This involves devising unique treatment plans based on the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, and environmental needs of the individual, suggesting rehabilitation programs, teaching key skills, providing aids, building a good relationship with the person and keeping up with their progress so you can find new methods if things aren’t going well.
Working with mature adults is a popular route in OT as there is no shortage of ageing adults who wish to continue carrying out fulfilling activities or need help to persist with basic activities. It is extremely important for older people to be able to keep doing what they love, to play a role in society and to feel in control of their lives. Those that require assistance can begin to lose their dignity to carers and suffer declines in mental health. In this sector you will help older adults to continue independent life, coming up with little solutions that make a huge impact.
Rehabilitation is another important sector where you will help people get back on their feet after they’ve suffered a debilitating injury or illness and need to learn how to do things differently. One side of this can be helping individuals return to normal living, another side can be helping them return to a working environment.
Other areas include working with children and youth in a variety of settings from schools to homes, working in health and wellness which may focus on the prevention of illnesses and promotion of healthier living, or assisting those with mental health issues.
To practice occupational therapy in the UK you need a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) approved Bachelor’s Degree whereas in the US you always require a Masters. In both countries you must be registered with the HCPC or obtain a licence. Once equipped with these you are ready to search and apply for occupational therapy jobs.