How to become an Occupational Therapist
By an allied health world contributing writer
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Steps to become an occupational therapist
- Job shadow a variety of licensed occupational therapists over an extended period of time. Learn the variety of settings OTs work in and which appeal to you.
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in biology, psychology, or a health care related field.
- Complete volunteer internship hours with an occupational therapist in a practice setting.
- Apply to an occupational therapy master’s degree program.
- Complete two 3-month long internships (level II fieldwork) with a licensed occupational therapist as part of the master’s degree requirement.
- Sit for the certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy to become registered and earn an OTR credential.
- Apply to become licensed to practice in your state.
- Search and apply for a job as an occupational therapist.
- Maintain the necessary continuing education units.
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Another topic OTs focus on is intervention for people who are older since our population is growing in age. One of the topics regarding the older population involves driver safety for the elderly. Many OTs have developed programs and implemented policies related to ensuring elderly drivers are safe on the road.
Traumatic brain injury is also a hot topic. Due to the survivors of the Iraqi War, along with all the war veterans who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a huge population of traumatic brain injury survivors. Occupational therapists work with these individuals to help them participate in their normal daily living activities. Many survivors of war also return with injuries that result in amputations. Occupational therapists work with these amputees to help them learn how to use prosthetic limbs and relearn how to perform everyday tasks using their prostheses.
Learn more about the occupational therapy degree.
Also, informing the public about safety to prevent traumatic brain injuries is a current hot topic, especially following the tragic death of Natasha Richardson from a brain injury skiing without a helmet.
What are some current hot topics in this field?There are a number of “hot topics” discussed among occupational therapists. One of them is centered on the rise in autism and using early intervention for this and other types of developmental disorders. Early intervention consists of services provided between birth and age three. There is a lot of focus on maximizing a child’s function before he/she even starts preschool so that he/she is at the highest-level function by the time he/she enters school.
Occupational Therapy Schools
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