Occupational therapist Education, Degrees and Training

  • To become an occupational therapist, one should complete an undergraduate degree; obtain extensive post-graduate training by either pursuing a master’s degree program or a doctor of occupational therapy program. One should ensure that the degree is obtained from an accredited school program. One becomes eligible to take the board exams after graduation. Practice license is obtained on successful completion of a professional board examination.

  • What is an occupational therapist

    Occupational therapist also referred to as OT, is a health care professional who plans a treatment course for all patients with illnesses, injuries, or disabilities through out the therapy. An occupational therapist usually works in a medical clinic, hospital or other medical facility under the supervision of doctors. They treat patients with permanent disabilities, such as debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s dementia and cerebral palsy. They care for patients using appropriate adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs, leg or knee braces, and eating aids.

    Occupational therapist education

    The first step to become an occupational therapist includes enrolling in a university that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). After graduation, the candidate should complete either a doctorate degree or master’s degree in occupational therapy. One becomes eligible to apply to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) board exam, officially conducted by the professional association of occupational therapists called as the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. Finally, the candidate acquires a practice license on successful completion of the exam.

    Occupational therapy degree programs are usually offered at the graduate level and can lead to either a doctorate or a master’s degree. The candidate should first enroll in an accredited graduate program, which includes minimum four years of undergraduate degree. The curriculum generally focuses on theory and laboratory work in biology, liberal arts, anatomy, social sciences, psychology, sociology, anthropology and the life sciences. The work at graduate level includes basic health science coursework that is focused on occupational therapy field. The graduates should complete hands on clinical training in occupational therapy.

    Occupational therapist training

    Occupational therapists require an entry level education of at least master’s degree in occupational therapy, even though many candidates hold a doctorate degree. The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. aims that all new occupational therapists to have a postgraduate degree from a graduate program that is accredited by Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. The list of schools that offer ACOTE accredited graduate programs in occupational therapy can be found at the American Occupational Therapy association.

    The occupational therapist pursuing an undergraduate degree completes 4 years of training in life science, human development, psychology, physical therapy, kinesiology, or a related field. The rest of 2 ½ years training will be completed in a graduate school for an advanced degree. Students gain experience in a combination of laboratory, classroom, and clinical training programs during their graduate education. The clinical training helps to obtain work experience in dealing with patients seeking occupational therapy.

    Occupational therapist post-graduate training

    The candidate should enroll in an occupational therapy training program from a school that is accredited by the accrediting agency, American Occupational Therapy Association, or AOTA. One can enroll in programs that include both Masters and Ph.D. degrees. The program duration can depend upon the graduating requirements of each school, even though the program curriculum lasts from 2 to 3 years. Most of the occupational therapy educational programs currently focus on standard classes for occupational therapy such as applied research methods, clinical neuroscience,  computer technology and rehabilitation techniques customized to infants, youngsters and older adults. Fieldwork is also required in addition to classroom training.

    Occupational therapist Degrees

    To become an occupational therapist, one should complete an entry-level education (high school diploma or GED equivalent) before enrolling in an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. One should graduate either from a four-year bachelor’s degree or a two-year associate’s degree. The candidate should then mandatorily complete a postgraduate or master’s program in occupational therapy that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), which is a main accreditation body of the professional association of occupational therapists. The program curriculum can include both theory classes and clinical procedures. The state certification can be obtained by passing the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) exam, officially conducted by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

    Occupational therapist  bachelor’s degree

    To become a licensed occupational therapist, the candidate should complete a bachelor’s degree before applying for a post-graduate program in occupational therapy. Most of the occupational therapy programs also require associate’s degree; however, a basic knowledge about liberal arts, psychology, sociology, anatomy, behavioral sciences and physical therapy is sufficient enough to train the candidate for a rigorous post-graduate training. Occupational therapists may require extensive training in courses such as geriatric rehabilitation, rehabilitation for people in crisis, occupational adaptation, and rehabilitation for cases with emotional trauma, and foundations in occupational therapy.

    Occupational therapist masters degree and doctorate

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the master’s degree programs in occupational therapy generally last for the duration of about two to three years. The doctorate programs, on the other hand, typically last for up to three years of study. Most of the candidates pursuing a career in occupational therapy field generally pursue a doctorate program also. The candidate qualifies for an occupational therapy license on receiving a passing score on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapists exam (NBCOT) that is officially administered by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy. Alternately, the candidate can pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-Occupational Therapy.

    Occupational therapy  Coursework

    Candidates enrolled in occupational therapy programs are exposed to rigorous academic load that emphasizes on both theory and practicum. The courses that are included at the beginning of the curriculum include physiology, anatomy, and behavioral sciences with main focus on the life sciences. On gaining necessary knowledge, students are trained to undertake various treatment procedures, perform tests, diagnose and to address specific types of disorders. The final part of training program includes participating in an internship program under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist to learn necessary skills.

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