Interested in Becoming an Occupational Therapist? – Part 1

Occupational Therapist’s Role

Assess, plan, organize, and participate in rehabilitative programs that help build or restore vocational, homemaking, and daily living skills, as well as general independence, to persons with disabilities or developmental delays.

Work Contexts

  • Face-to-Face Discussions 
  • Contact With Others
  • Physical Proximity
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled
  • Electronic Mail

Tasks

  • Complete and maintain necessary records.
  • Test and evaluate patients’ physical and mental abilities and analyze medical data to determine realistic rehabilitation goals for patients.

    • Having a mentor will help you grow.
  • Train caregivers how to provide for the needs of a patient during and after therapy.

    • Be a good listener.
  • Evaluate patients’ progress and prepare reports that detail progress.

    • Good attention to detail
  • Plan, organize, and conduct occupational therapy programs in hospital, institutional, or community settings to help rehabilitate those impaired because of illness, injury or psychological or developmental problems.
  • Select activities that will help individuals learn work and life-management skills within limits of their mental or physical capabilities.

    • Use your creativity
  • Recommend changes in patients’ work or living environments, consistent with their needs and capabilities.
  • Design and create, or requisition, special supplies and equipment, such as splints, braces, and computer-aided adaptive equipment.
  • Develop and participate in health promotion programs, group activities, or discussions to promote client health, facilitate social adjustment, alleviate stress, and prevent physical or mental disability.

    • Integrate emerging research with alternative interventions to medicine.
  • Consult with rehabilitation team to select activity programs or coordinate occupational therapy with other therapeutic activities.

    • Amount of collaboration depends on setting and specialty.
  • Lay out materials such as puzzles, scissors and eating utensils for use in therapy, and clean and repair these tools after therapy sessions.

    • Being organized matters!
  • Plan and implement programs and social activities to help patients learn work or school skills and adjust to handicaps.
  • Help clients improve decision making, abstract reasoning, memory, sequencing, coordination, and perceptual skills, using computer programs.

    • Collaborate with Speech Language Pathology, they are a wonderful resource!
  • Provide training and supervision in therapy techniques and objectives for students or nurses and other medical staff.

    • Almost on a daily basis, depending on your setting. This is a great opportunity to learn from other staff as well.
  • Conduct research in occupational therapy.

    • Expect to conduct research as a student.
  • Advise on health risks in the workplace or on health-related transition to retirement.

Knowledge

  • Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling — Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.

    • Don’t worry, you will learn conditions, names of medications and lab values with your work experience.
  • Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

    • In my opinion, occupational therapists are always learning, even after school.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    • Knowing additional languages is a bonus! Don’t worry, most employers offer a live translator service of sorts.
  • Sociology and Anthropology — Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

    • Being sensitive to each patient’s needs.
    • Simple tip: do not judge others.
  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

Skills

  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

    • Safety of patients comes first.
    • Continue to seek practice improvement.
    • Do not take things personally.
  • Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.

    • The best part of the job!
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

    • Takes practice, but this really is an important skill.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

    • Do not be afraid to ask your colleagues for ideas.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

    • Often times, making quick judgment calls.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

    • Learn to scan charts, documentation, and research quickly.
  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

    • A smile goes a long way.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

    • Convey the most important information.
    • Write succinctly.
    • Check for grammar and spelling.
    • You will be expected to write quickly, while managing your time.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.

    • 1:1, group, virtually, handouts, and more.
  • Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.

    • Important on a macro level (the day’s work to meet productivity goals) to a micro level (timing within sessions, meetings, pacing patients)
  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

    • Often times, your patients will not want to work with you.
  • Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
    • Not only with patients, but with family members, nurses, doctors, and other therapists.

Work Activities

  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.

Detailed Work Activities

  • Record patient medical histories.
  • Analyze patient data to determine patient needs or treatment goals.
  • Evaluate patient functioning, capabilities, or health.
  • Train caregivers or other non-medical personnel.
  • Monitor patient progress or responses to treatments.
  • Prepare reports summarizing patient diagnostic or care activities.
  • Design public or employee health programs.
  • Direct healthcare delivery programs.
  • Develop treatment plans that use non-medical therapies.
  • Provide health and wellness advice to patients, program participants, or caregivers.
  • Design medical devices or appliances.
  • Fabricate medical devices.
  • Collaborate with healthcare professionals to plan or provide treatment.
  • Clean medical equipment or facilities.
  • Prepare medical supplies or equipment for use.
  • Supervise patient care personnel.
  • Train medical providers.
  • Conduct research to increase knowledge about medical issues.
  • Advise communities or institutions regarding health or safety issues.
  • Encourage patients or clients to develop life skills.

References:

onetonline.org