Occupational therapy is a dynamic field that offers a range of exciting opportunities for qualified therapists. As holistic healthcare rises to the forefront and the need for rehabilitative therapy grows, the demand for occupational therapists is sure to follow suit. If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in occupational therapy, you can branch out in any number of directions. Consider some of the paths and opportunities at your disposal.
Clinical practice is the most traditional career path for occupational therapists. You could work in a hospital, outpatient clinic, rehabilitation center, or skilled nursing facility if you choose this direction. You’d be helping people regain the skills they need in their everyday lives. Some of your responsibilities would be creating personalized treatment plans, guiding patients through rehabilitative exercises, and using your training to improve people’s lives. Though this is one of the most common job opportunities for occupational therapists, it’s not the only one by far.
Pediatrics or Geriatrics
You could also choose to specialize in helping patients in specific age groups. Pediatric occupational therapists work with children to improve their physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. They help children with developmental disorders, learning disabilities, and physical impairments. You’d be guiding children through developmental milestones or helping them navigate school and social situations.
Geriatric occupational therapists, on the other hand, work with elderly people. They help them maintain their independence as they age and enable them to overcome physical challenges. You might assist patients who are dealing with arthritis, injuries, stroke, dementia, or other conditions that alter the way they interact with the world around them.
Occupational therapists can also work in mental health settings. In this case, you might help people improve their social skills, manage stress, and learn how to deal with everyday struggles. You could work with people who are suffering from mental disorders and help them overcome the challenges that are unique to the conditions they’re living with.
On a different note, you could become a consultant. As an occupational therapy consultant, you could work for a variety of organizations. You’d offer advice on accessibility, workplace setup, and other matters. You’d help clients find ways of making their establishments more convenient and easier to manage for visitors or employees. You might also work with architects, nurses, and other professionals to help them better cater to the needs of the people who depend on them.
Administrative roles are also available for occupational therapists. With the right credentials, you could supervise therapy departments at healthcare facilities, work in research facilities, or help companies improve their healthcare policies. As an administrator, you’d help facilities uphold a higher standard of care and oversee staff members as they execute the practices you help develop.
Research and Education
Another possibility is branching into the field of education or research. You could earn the credentials to teach rising generations of occupational therapists. Alternatively, you could have a hand in improving existing treatment techniques or creating new ones. You might help to design new tools for occupational therapists and their patients to use or develop new guidelines for your industry. You might even help to develop assistive technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities or other unique challenges.
Choosing Your Occupational Therapy Path
Those are only a few of the opportunities at your disposal if you choose a career in occupational therapy. You’ll be in a high-demand field that allows you to help people in many ways. Whether you take a more traditional direction or help propel the field into the future, you’ll provide services that are sure to become increasingly essential moving forward.