America’s medical field is experiencing a significant shortage of professionals at this point. It’s affecting virtually every branch of the sector, including occupational therapy. Due to the growing shortage and an increasing need for the services occupational therapists provide, the industry needs newcomers. This portion of the healthcare field is incredibly diverse, with numerous possibilities available to those who choose this career path.
Clinical Occupational Therapy
One of the most common career paths for occupational therapists is clinical OT. Occupational therapists who choose this route work in hospitals, clinics, private practices, rehabilitation centers, and other facilities where they help patients one-on-one. They evaluate patients’ needs, develop treatment plans, and help people improve their functional abilities. It’s possible to specialize in different branches of clinical OT, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or mental health, and numerous available occupational therapy positions are available in this field.
School-Based Occupational Therapy
School-based occupational therapists work with students at school to help bolster their success in education and in everyday life. They help children develop or improve their social and motor skills, sensory processing, and many other aspects. They also collaborate with teachers and parents to create strategies to encourage students to participate in school activities and develop accommodations to help them do so. Research shows that the number of children who need occupational therapy has surged over the years, so there’s a considerable need for these services.
Community-Based Occupational Therapy
Those who are interested also have the option to pursue careers in community-based occupational therapy. In this branch of the field, occupational therapists work with people or groups to foster health on a community-wide level. They may help to create and implement programs that promote health, preventative safety strategies, and lifestyle modifications, among other solutions. They may work in public health agencies, community centers, or with businesses in corporate wellness programs, among other possibilities.
Mental Health Occupational Therapy
Mental health and overall success in life are intertwined, and occupational therapists can combine the two in their careers. Mental health occupational therapists help patients cope with emotional, cognitive, and social difficulties, among other problems. That, in turn, empowers them to participate in everyday activities and successfully develop and maintain their independence. OTs in this field assess patients’ daily lives and design customized solutions to help them function effectively. In doing so, they may improve patients’ self-esteem, reduce their anxiety, and aid them in finding new ways to deal with stress.
Occupational therapists can also specialize in the field of assistive technology. Technology has revolutionized people’s lives in many ways, and it can make a world of difference for those who need extra assistance. Assistive technology ranges from simple communication boards to highly advanced computer software and prosthetics. Occupational therapists who specialize in assistive technology evaluate clients’ needs and how technological devices can help address them. They may even aid in designing assistive devices.
Choosing a Career in Occupational Therapy
Those are only a few of the options available to occupational therapists. It’s a highly rewarding field, and all branches are geared toward helping people. Occupational therapists can make a dramatic difference in the lives of people of all ages. They help their patients develop academic, social, and workplace skills, among many other essential abilities. With so many possibilities available, people with any number of interests and skills may find a place in the world of occupational therapy.