After a patient receives their doctor's order the Occupational Therapist will complete a comprehensive evaluation of: range of motion, strength, sensation, coordination, skin and/or wound condition, pain, swelling, etc.
The Occupational Therapist will develop a unique, individual treatment program that may include: range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises, splinting to support an injury, wound and skin care, and job site evaluations. Treatment will also include education about the cause and anatomy of the injury, and often includes continuation of a home program to continue progress.
An Occupational Therapist may work in a variety of settings such as: clinics treating orthopedic injuries of the upper body, clinics that specialize in workplace injuries, a hospital setting treating patients who have had surgeries, illnesses, strokes or other ailments that limit function, or a school setting, working with children who have neurological or orthopedic disabilities. Therapists will also often work in a patient's home, if that person cannot travel due to their condition.
Typically a bachelor’s degree is required to be admitted into an occupational therapy schooling program. A bachelor’s degree such as in biology, psychology, sociology or liberal arts is commonly accepted. At minimum a master’s degree is required to enter into the occupational therapy field. Numerous master’s degree programs require the student to have volunteered or worked within an occupational therapy setting prior to being admitted to the program. This is often referred to as Level I Fieldwork. As part of the post-baccalaureate degree the student will be required to perform a 24 week internship. This is known as Level II Fieldwork. The final step is to take the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam. Those who pass the exam will then be approved to apply for a state license.
Your hard work will pay off not only in job satisfaction, but in your salary as well. Starting salaries in this field range from approximately $44,350 (Michigan) to $56,500 (Calif.) Starting salaries depend mostly on location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary in 2011 for an experienced Occupational Therapist was $72,515 annually, or $34.77 an hour.
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