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What is an Occupational Therapist?

So, you are thinking about a career as an occupational therapist.

Well, that’s awesome!

The question is, do you have what it takes?

Keep reading to find out more…

If you are interested in becoming an occupational therapist, you are in good company. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the workforce is made up of 130,400 occupational therapists in the United States.

So, is there any room left for you?

Great question!

And the answer is yes.

Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow by 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons.

Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or the loss of a limb. However, demand for occupational therapy services is related to the ability of patients to pay, either directly or through health insurance.

The need for occupational therapists is expected to increase as the large baby-boom generation ages, and people remain active later in life. Occupational therapists can help senior citizens maintain their independence by recommending home modifications and strategies that make daily activities easier. Therapists also play a role in the treatment of many conditions and ailments commonly associated with aging, such as arthritis and stroke.

Occupational therapists also will be needed in a variety of healthcare settings to treat patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Patients will continue to seek noninvasive outpatient treatment for long-term disabilities and illnesses, either in their homes or in residential care environments. These patients may need occupational therapy to become more independent and to perform a variety of daily tasks.

Demand for occupational therapy services also will stem from patients with autism spectrum disorder. Therapists will continue to be needed in schools to assist children with autism in improving their social skills and accomplishing a variety of daily tasks.

Who is becoming an occupational therapist?

According to datausa.io, the occupational therapist workforce is 89.3% female.

What personal qualities and characteristics make a good occupational therapist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following qualities are important to have as an occupational therapist.

Adaptability. Occupational therapists must be flexible when treating patients. Because not every type of therapy will work for each patient, therapists may need to be creative when determining the treatment plans and adaptive devices that best suit each patient’s needs.

Communication skills. Occupational therapists must listen attentively to what patients tell them and must explain what they want their patients to do. When communicating with other members of the patient’s medical team, therapists must clearly explain the treatment plan for the patient and any progress made by the patient.

Compassion. Occupational therapists are usually drawn to the profession by a desire to help people and improve their daily lives. Therapists must be sensitive to a patient’s needs and concerns, especially when assisting the patient with personal activities.

Interpersonal skills. Because occupational therapists spend their time teaching and explaining therapies to patients, they need to earn the trust and respect of those patients and their families.

Patience. Dealing with injuries, illnesses, and disabilities is frustrating for many people. Occupational therapists should exhibit patience in order to provide quality care to the people they serve.

 

The bottom line: If becoming an occupational therapist is something you feel passionately about, the one word of advice we will give you is: Go for it!