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How do I get Occupational Therapist Training?

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  • Written By: K T Solis
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2016
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People who wish to receive occupational therapist training are required to earn a master's degree in occupational therapy from an accredited university or college. Occupational therapists work with patients who suffer from a physical, mental, emotional, or developmental disability. They help patients learn how to develop, maintain, or relearn everyday tasks associated with work or daily life.

This work may involve assisting patients with the goal of improving gross and fine motor skills. It may even require that the occupational therapist helps a patient cultivate the ability to solve problems. In other words, the occupational therapist strives to help patients live full, productive lives despite their disabilities.

In order to enroll in a program that offers occupational therapist training, an aspiring occupational therapist must possess a high school diploma. The high school graduate must further his or her education by earning a bachelor's degree. College graduates who have majored in sociology, biology, liberal arts, anthropology, or other relevant subjects are more likely to be accepted to a graduate program in occupational therapist training.

Once enrolled in a graduate program, the student will take courses in behavioral, biological, and physical sciences. He or she will also be expected to take classes in occupational therapy theory and skills. The student will need to successfully complete six months of field work under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. Finally, the student must pass a national exam in order to earn certification.

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An occupational therapist has a wide variety of job responsibilities as he or she seeks to improve the lives of patients. For example, the therapist may help a patient learn how to use a wheelchair or improve memory. An occupational therapist may teach patients with spinal cord injuries or cerebral palsy how to perform daily tasks they will need to master in order to live independently.

Occupational therapists who work with young children may evaluate a disabled child's abilities and suggest modifications to the classroom in order for the child to fully participate in activities. Therapists may work with elderly patients, assessing their ability to drive safely. They may then suggest special equipment that will enable older patients to keep their driving independence. Other occupational therapists who work with the elderly may visit patients' homes. While assessing the home, the therapists will identify items within the living environment that might cause older people to have a dangerous fall.

Some occupational therapists work with patients who are mentally disabled. They may focus on teaching such patients skills that relate to shopping, housekeeping, and public transportation. They might even teach them decision-making skills and how to manage time well.

Those who decide to receive occupational therapist training will embark on a career that allows them to assist people to improve their quality of life. Whether teaching someone how to drive a car or how to cook a meal, occupational therapists must exhibit empathy and patience. These two important qualities allow the therapists to help patients in the goal of living independent, successful lives.

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