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Promoting Independence

Students studying the brain

Relying on knowledge and skills in the biological, psychological and social sciences, Occupational Therapists (OTs) use physical and psychosocial methods to help people achieve independence in all facets of their lives – at work, at home and in social and community settings. Current emphasis on health and wellness has expanded the role of occupational therapy into preventive and educational arenas.

A client-centered profession of caring. A rewarding career.

OTs work with:

  • Patients of all ages with health problems such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, cancer, and other physical and cognitive disabilities
  • Children with developmental or learning problems
  • Individuals with mental illness and psychosocial concerns
  • Family members and other caregivers
  • Other professionals including teachers, special educators, day care personnel, camp counselors, health providers, physicians and more

OTs help people (patients, clients, consumers) to:

  • Become independent and self-reliant
  • Improve motor function, communication, and reasoning abilities
  • Learn (or relearn) the day-to-day skills necessary for independent, productive and satisfying lives—from bathing and dressing to cooking, driving,  using technology, and returning to work
  • Transition into new life roles
  • Adapt to or compensate for the physical and emotional effects of disabilities

OTs are in demand

  • There is an increased demand for qualified therapists due to significant labor shortages in the field of occupational therapy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says job opportunities should be good, especially working with the elderly
  • Many employers offer sign on bonuses, flexible work schedules, education benefits, and more to attract qualified therapists
  • Read more about careers in OT

OTs enjoy careers in a wide range of settings including:

  • schools
  • hospitals
  • skilled nursing facilities
  • private homes
  • outpatient rehabilitation clinics
  • psychiatric facilities
  • senior-care and assisted living centers
  • community health programs

Learn more about occupational therapy at AOTA.

While completing their OT fieldwork experience, some students work with underserved populations in a variety of community settings, such as homeless shelters, senior centers and juvenile detention centers.

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