What is occupational therapy? The occupational therapist is an important member of the healthcare team providing services to people of all ages with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities. The purpose of occupational therapy is to help individuals achieve a maximum level of independent living by focusing on the development of the capacity to function in the activities of daily life. Occupational therapy is needed when an individual's ability to live independently, to care for personal needs and to participate in work, school, family, and community life is disrupted by illness or injury.
Common problems seen by occupational therapists include stroke, developmental disabilities, work injuries, arthritis, traumatic injuries, dementia, other problems associated with aging, and psychosocial barriers to occupational performance such as depression, schizophrenia and personality disorders. In all settings the focus of intervention is to return the client to the highest level of function as possible. This may include performing activities of daily living such as dressing, grooming, bathing and eating. Adaptive equipment and other modifications may be used to enhance performance in personal care, home management, meal preparation, and play or leisure activities. In addition to personal cares, the therapist assists the client in developing the necessary skills to manage everyday situations needed to live in the community and return to work.
Occupational therapists primarily work in schools, skilled nursing facilities, clinics and hospitals, as well as community settings, to help individuals achieve a maximum level of independent living. Occupational therapists also provide support for wellness and prevention concerns. Program faculty have a keen interest in responding to the needs unique to rural practice and exploring alternative service delivery models (i.e., other service providers, prisons, mental health agencies and businesses).
Therapists can tell when students are from St. Scholastica by their clinical experience, comfort level when interacting with other disciplines and clients, and overall professionalism.
I want to thank the entire OT Department for preparing me for fieldwork. Without you, I would not have had the success I've had thus far!
Occupational Therapy Graduate Student
In 2008, AOTA released Laurence Shatkin's, Ph.D., '150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs' (JIST, 2008). Occupational therapy positions are growing at a rate of 23.1%. Occupational therapists were ranked 18th in being recession-proof and 35th in being the best-paying recession-proof jobs (average earnings being $60,470).