Occupational Therapist

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What Is Your job Title?

Occupational Therapist

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?

Occupational Therapists use a systematic approach based on evidence and professional reasoning to enable individuals, groups and communities to develop the means and opportunities to identify, engage in and improve their function in the occupations of life. The process involves assessment, intervention and evaluation of the client related to occupational performance in self-care, work, study volunteerism and leisure.

What Training Is Necessary to Do Your Work?

Occupational Therapists are highly trained health-care professionals. All entry-level university education programs for Occupational Therapists in Canada currently grant a Master’s level credential. Since 2008, all university education programs for occupational therapists must lead to a Master’s credential to be eligible for accreditation by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT).

Where Do You Work?

Occupational Therapists are generally employed in community agencies, health care organizations such as hospitals, chronic care facilities, rehabilitation centres and clinics, schools; social agencies industry or are self-employed. Some Occupational Therapists specialize in working with a specific age group or disability such as arthritis, developmental coordination disorder, mental illness, or spinal cord injury. Occupational Therapists may assume different roles such as advising on health risks in the workplace, safe driving for older adults, and programs to promote mental health for youth. Occupational Therapists also perform functions as manager, researcher, program developer or educator in addition to the direct delivery of professional services.

Who Needs Your Services and Why?

People who are unable to perform their “occupations”. Occupational Therapists define an occupation as much more than a chosen career. Occupation refers to everything that people do during the course of everyday life. Each of us have many occupations that are essential to our health and well-being. Occupational Therapists believe that occupations describe who you are and how you feel about yourself. A child, for example, might have occupations as a student, a playmate, a dancer and a table-setter.

What Is Your Favourite Part of Your Job?

  • Enabling clients to reach their occupational goals in a safe and timely manner. For example, if their goal is to prepare and make their own meals, our role is to enable the client to plan, prep, and complete the task.
  • The ability to work with clients and problem solve together to assist them in reaching their full potential and occupational goals.
  • Seeing client’s achieve their goals is very rewarding. If we can provide the education and strategies to keep people independent in their own homes, I think we have created a win-win situation for the client and the Occupational Therapy profession.

What Challenges Do You Have in Your Job?

  • As an OT I feel pressure to work only on issues as presented and often do not have an opportunity to assess clients from a holistic approach, (such as self care, work and leisure, etc.).
  • When are on a leave of absence of any time, we are not replaced. If I am away from work for an extended period of time, my colleagues may be asked to take on my caseload as well as look after their own clients.
  • Other challenges are the potential of burn out and high degree of stress in the in the workplace.
  • Saskatchewan’s population is aging rapidly and we are faced with growing wait lists.
  • Saskatchewan currently has the lowest number of Occupational Therapists per capita in the whole country according to 2010 CIHI stats.

What Are the Consequences When There Are Not Enough People with Your Training to Provide Service?

Without enough Occupational Therapists working in various areas of healthcare, the quality of life of many of our clients is compromised. For example, a client may be living at risk in their home if he or she is waiting for an environmental assessment. There is a potential fall risk if the home environment is deemed unsafe. For example, the home may contain tripping hazards or have poor lighting. There is also the potential for bodily injury or death if the client has cognitive deficits. For example, there may be a risk of fire if the client does not remember to turn off the stove. Saskatchewan residents may end up waiting or not getting the care or advice/assistance that they need at crucial times in their lives. When there is not enough OTs providing education and compensatory interventions, our clients often wait or go without potential supports and interventions that will give them the quality of life they deserve. This may result in the development of pressure sores. OTs can prevent pressure sores by assessing the client’s sitting or lying posture.