How to become an occupational therapist in Australia: careers in health
Occupational therapists assist people who have difficulties participating in everyday activities. They assist people to become more independent and to improve their wellbeing. They may work in a variety of areas including aged care, injury prevention, rehabilitation, disability and health promotion. Occupational therapists work in different settings including hospitals, community health services, schools, corporations and government agencies. To become an occupational therapist you need appropriate qualifications at either an undergraduate or postgraduate level.
Occupational therapists assess the needs of clients and plan interventions, which can include returning clients to the workforce, achieving social goals or improving their physical capabilities. Working alongside other medical professionals, occupational therapists deliver care plans to their clients. They also need to keep appropriate records of client care plans and monitor progress against these plans. Sometimes they may also contribute to policy and program development.
To succeed as an occupational therapist, you need to be flexible and have excellent problem solving skills. Effective communication skills, both verbal and in written form, are also essential. Occupational therapists must be empathetic and discreet, and able to relate to clients and other medical professionals from different backgrounds. The ability to work independently is also required.
Adaptable, discrete, culturally sensitive and empathetic
Occupational therapists may specialise in a number of ways. They might choose to dedicate themselves to a particular field, for example working with people recovering from physical injuries or the elderly. Others may work in corporate settings developing and implementing programs in injury prevention. They can also find work in research and policy development.
Working exclusively In one area of occupational therapy, dedicated occupational therapists become experts in their field. They gain a deeper understanding of the relevant issues in their particular area of expertise which means they can provide more comprehensive interventions for their clients.
Organisations often hire corporate occupational therapists to work with their employees to reduce the risks of workplace injuries. They educate employees on occupational health and safety such as properly setting up their work spaces, and other issues specific to their workplace and industry. They may also assist injured employees transition back into work.
Because they tend to have a thorough understanding of the issues related to health, employment special needs education and social interactions, occupational therapists can be extremely valuable in policy or research roles relating to these topics. These positions are usually based in academic settings or government agencies.
Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your health career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
Strong growth is predicted to continue in the field of occupational therapy over coming years. A large number of these roles are part-time, but salaries tend to be above average.