Students who have earned a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy are eligible to sit for the national certification examination in order for them to practice professionally. It is important for prospective occupational therapists to graduate from an occupation therapy program that is accredited by the American Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). It is also important for occupational therapists to be competitive and to continue learning for the benefit of their careers and for them to be the best in the field.
Occupational therapy programs are usually offered in universities and colleges. Most occupational therapists have at least a master’s degree in occupational therapy while some have doctorate degrees. Community colleges also offer Associate’s degree in occupational therapy although this degree is for those who want to work as an occupational therapist assistant or aide. Most students who are in the Associate’s degree program are unsure if they want to practice as occupational therapists in the future. Enrolling in a 2-year program makes it possible for them to test the waters and see if the profession is right for them. Students who are set on becoming occupational therapists are advised to start at a Bachelor’s degree level. Appropriate undergraduate degrees include biology, psychology, sociology, and other health sciences degrees. Students who have earned a Bachelor’s degree from an unrelated field must complete all the required pre-requisites such as human anatomy and physiology, general psychology, human development psychology, adult development courses, sociology, and medical terminology. It is also recommended that they take courses in physics and statistics. After students complete their Bachelor’s degree program, they are eligible to apply in a master’s degree program.
Once students are accepted in the master’s program, they will take classes that will cover a wide variety of topics. Classes that students will encounter in the program include an introduction to occupational therapy, introduction to terminology for occupational therapy, functional kinesiology, functional neuroscience, pathology, pharmacology, therapeutic media, intervention techniques and evaluation for adult and children, development and occupation in childhood and adulthood, theoretical perspectives, leadership and management, legal and ethical issues, clinical reasoning, cognition, statistics and research, trends in the occupational therapy practice, community practice, rehabilitation, human adaptations, occupational therapy practicum, fieldwork, and a lot more.
Anyone who has the education, training and certification can work as an occupational therapist. However, not every one of them possesses the qualities that are needed to become a good therapist. Occupational therapists must be people-oriented and they must have communication skills in order to interact with their patients. They must be emotionally stable and must conduct themselves in a positive manner around their patients and colleagues. Occupational therapist must also be critical thinkers and must be resourceful in order to provide the best possible treatment program for each of their patients. Occupational therapist must also need to be patient as they are dealing with individuals who are most likely still trying to recover and relearn their basic life and work skills. Patience is necessary in this field as improvement varies from patient to patient and some may be slow in showing improvement right away.