Occupational Therapy: Pros & Cons Of Becoming An Occupational Therapist


Occupational therapy is one of those rewarding job in the world but also one of the most physically and mentally challenging career. It tests one’s capability to be of service to people not related to them in a very physical manner. It also measures one’s capacity to understand other people’s medical condition. The uniqueness of every patient’s case extensively pushes the skills and abilities of an occupational therapist to guide them to their one common goal, which is to enable the patient to participate in activities people normally do in everyday life.

There are a lot of pros and cons with this profession. To guide aspiring occupational therapists, here is the general overview of what to expect in this career:

Pros

  • With occupational therapy, one rewards himself by knowing that he helps other people reclaim control in their own lives. Occupational therapy is the best career for people believing in the philosophy of helping others to help themselves. Every time that the patients visit their occupational therapists to receive treatment, the latter does not just giving them orders and exercises but also the gift of independence and dignity.
  • Becoming An Occupational TherapistOccupational therapy has a wide spectrum of specialization. One cannot help but to compare occupational therapy to its counterpart, physical therapy. Physical therapy focuses more on the “physical” aspect of the body such as strength, endurance, range of motion, etc. PTs aim to help their patients by strengthening their physical aspects. On the other hand, occupational therapists goes way beyond and deeper than the mere recovery from injuries or overcoming hindrances that goes along with having inborn disabilities. Occupational therapist deals with not just physical but also with the emotional and social aspects of injuries, disabilities and illnesses. They help their patients rekindle their social intimacy by slowly practicing everyday activities like walking and running that will help them go out to the public without hindrances. They also aim to help patients revive their self-worth by helping them do activities on their own like cooking, cleaning, washing and taking a bath.
  • Occupational therapists have an extensive venue where they can practice their profession. Because of their diverse knowledge and skills and tasks that occupational therapist are capable to do, they are flexible enough to fit in almost all health care facilities and institutions. If not giving therapies, they can work as medical biller and coder as they have a strong medical education foundation. They can also be caregivers in a skilled nursing facilities and consultants in schools and private clinics. They can also work in rehabilitation centers, mental health institutions, community wellness programs, government hospitals or freelance therapists that give home services to patients that cannot go to hospitals or clinics.
  • Every day is a learning process. The knowledge will not stop upon graduation or being licensed. With occupational therapy, the OTs unconsciously gain learning by interacting with people with unique cases. Occupational therapists are not always stuck behind the desks as they are often deployed to have one-on-one session with their patients. They gain knowledge about one case that may be connected and similar to other cases, which gratify the theoretical learning they had school.
  • Occupational therapy is one of the most financially rewarding jobs in the medical and health care industry. According the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual pay of a professional occupational therapist ranges from $61,520 to $88,790, from 2010 to 2020. Graduates and newly licensed OTs need not to worry, as the unemployment rate in this field is just 0.4%. This is because the demand for occupational therapist increases direct proportionally with the growth in the number of individuals with disabilities and limited function that needs extensive therapies.

Cons

  • Lengthy time needed to complete education and licensure. It takes four years to complete the requirements for getting a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy. This period does not include a minimum of 6 months clinical practice and review for board examination. Prior to getting license, one must be certified by the state certification board, which takes a minimum of 6 months preparation. Reputable health care institutions require entry-level occupational therapist to have a master’s degree, which takes up two years to complete. To top it all, the tuition fee, board, and licensing fees are quite expensive.
  • Health care reform and other federal legislation issues. Insurance companies are imposing to cover less cost of therapy services. In addition to this, federal legislation also imposed limitations regarding the reimbursement of fees for therapies. These may unfavorably affect the industry and job market for occupational therapists and may potentially affect their salaries and earn less for rendering services to patients with insurances.
  • Occupational therapy is not the career for weak people as it can be physically demanding. The therapists can never be weaker than the patient can. Occasionally, there will be instances that extensively stretch out the physical capability of the therapists like lifting and carrying patients.  Occupational therapists, like any other health care providers, are always on call. There comes a time when they do not have weekend breaks, as they are always required to report to hospitals. They may also work at night and they deal with sick people so their immune system must be stable and strong.
  • Being an occupational therapist entails big responsibility. They may encounter some patients that feel hopeless about getting better. In consequence, they have the tendency to be very clingy and dependent to their therapist, which may become a hinder for them to be rehabilitated. In most cases, old people are the ones that have this tendency. A very common scene is the toileting and bathing and can cause the occupational therapist to have fluid contact from the patient, which is very inevitable.

Before pursuing a career in occupational therapy, these pros and cons must be carefully weighed in and it does not take over night to do it.  As the pros can be very enticing, the cons may be equally discouraging. It all boils down to one’s passion for the profession and the willingness to make other’s life easier and less of a burden.


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