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Insight into the Job of Occupational Therapists.

Occupational therapy is a field that focuses on helping patients who have just recovered from a life-altering illness, to get back in sync with their daily lives. Occupational therapists are commonly found in rehabilitation facilities. The job of occupational therapists is very demanding.

What does being an Occupational Therapist Entail?

An occupational therapist’s treatments are not restricted to the patient’s physical health but also aim at bringing the patient to a state of mental well-being.

Key responsibilities of the role include:

  1. Establishing treatment plans tailored to the patient’s needs and health goals.
  2. Making recommendations on changes that can be made to the patient’s home and work environment will accelerate recovery.
  3. Training patients and relatives of the patient on how to use special equipment(where necessary)
  4. Overseeing the patient’s treatment process and making adjustments when necessary, to aid recovery.

Necessities to be Successful in this Role Include:

Empathy.

Occupational therapists are people-oriented and always have the patient’s best interests at heart. To occupational therapists, it is more than just a job: it is their passion. Professionals in this role need to have a strong sense of compassion and empathy, so they can connect with patients and effectively make a positive impact on their lives.

Strong Written and Verbal Communication Skills

To effectively communicate with patients, the occupational therapist must be able to relate his recommendations clearly to patients. This skill is also necessary for the documentation of treatment plans and report-writing.

Tolerance and a ton of Patience

In this field, professionals sometimes have to deal with terrible behavioral changes in patients; temper tantrums, depression, and so on. He/She must be able to tolerate them as they come. Some patients experience a slow recovery process that requires a great deal of patience to follow up.  

Problem-Solving Skills

Every patient’s recovery pattern is unique and each new stage may require a different approach than the last. The occupational therapist’s job is to deal with issues calmly when they arise.

Teamwork

For most patients, the occupational therapist works in collaboration with doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists. The professional must be able to work with a team.

A degree in Occupational Therapy

To practice as a licensed occupational therapist, you need to be certified with at least a Master’s Degree in occupational health therapy.

How to Become an Occupational Therapist

To become a licensed occupational therapist, you’ll need to undergo training at an accredited university and be certified with a Bachelor’s degree in a related field. After that you’ll need to:

  1. Take an assessment exam called the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Exam. You will be rewarded with a certificate when you ace the exam.
  2. Further your education and get a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. The Master’s degree program runs for about 2 to 3 years.
  3. Ace the National board’s exam for occupational therapy.
  4. Apply for and obtain a license to practice in your state of residence.

What other Jobs can an Occupational Therapist do?

A person who wants to be an occupational therapist can start their career path by first working in these job positions:

Rehabilitation Technician

In this role, you will be required to assist the Occupational Therapist or the Physiotherapist in carrying out his duties. It is also the rehabilitation technician’s role to communicate with the patient and address any concerns they have regarding the treatment process.

Case Manager

The case manager helps patients with physical or mental health struggles find the right healthcare option. He is like the bridge between healthcare providers, medical facilities, and the patient.

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

This professional helps fully recovered patients get back on their feet in the job market.

Health Administrator

A health administrator oversees the health facility of an organization or enterprise and ensures that recruited staff are in optimal health.

Clinical Liason

A person working in this capacity is responsible for linking patients to rehabilitation facilities best suited for their health condition and required therapy.

Other job opportunities open to a person who has previously worked as an occupational therapist include:

Technical Writer

A retired occupational therapist can share his knowledge with the rest of the world by writing informative articles, training manuals, or reference documents for other professionals in the field.

Teacher

Occupational therapists with years of on-field experience can go on to apply for a job position as a clinical instructor at a medical facility or a professor at a university.

Occupational Therapy Specialist/Consultant

In this role, the professional gives expert advice and recommendations to medical facilities, rehabilitation centers, and organizations seeking to improve their occupational therapy procedures.

Director of Rehabilitation

Working in the role of a director, the professional oversees the management of the rehabilitation facility. It is his job to review staff performance for maximum productivity.

Recruiter

In this role, the professional screens aspirants for required positions in an establishment, to ensure that only the most qualified and fit candidates are hired.

What is the Average Salary of an Occupational Therapist in Nigeria?

The average salary of an occupational therapist in Nigeria is about NGN400,000 per month. However, the pay range is greatly influenced by the location and type of establishment the professional works at.

Is Occupational Therapy a Good Career Path?

Well, the job has its challenges just as it has its perks. It is a job that requires the professional to do a lot of physical activity while working with the patient, hence it can be stressful. It can also be very demanding on a professional’s personal life as it may require longer working hours some days. However, as your experience level increases, you get exposed to tips and tricks that can help you manage better.

If you have a passion for helping people by making a positive difference in their lives it will be a rewarding path for you. Occupational therapists are not common in Nigeria, so the labor market is consistently searching for professionals in this field. It is also a big plus that it attracts a fat paycheck.

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Okwanuzor

Oputa Okwanuzor is a freelance writer skilled in the art of weaving words into stories for brand boost through copywriting, or make a soothing read using creative writing. In her free time, she loves to share personal development talks, fashion inspos and writing tricks on her blog.

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