Occupational therapists provide help and support to adults, adolescents, children and the elderly who are suffering from issues such as mental health, learning disabilities, medical conditions and physical impairments. They help patients to lead as normal and independent life as possible by advising and helping with everyday tasks, as well as helping to educate and develop skills for daily living and future work opportunities.
For those who have an interest and passion for helping people to lead full and satisfying lives then occupational therapy can be a rewarding career. However, it is one that requires patience, determination, common sense and enthusiasm. Studying to become an occupational therapist can also be tough and taking lots of focus and dedication.
Potential occupational therapists have to begin by getting good grades at school and college in order to gain entry to a university. You would need to be in possession of five GCSE`s passes and a minimum of two A levels, some universities will require you to have three A levels, and one of those may need to be in science. Also considered are alternatives to A levels such as VCE, Scottish qualifications and approved access course passes. Different universities have different entry requirements so it would be important to check with your chosen place of study before you apply.
To get the degree they need, wannabe occupational therapists will require studying full time for three years at university. At the end of study you will be hoping to gain a BSc in occupation therapy, this degree will give you eligibility to apply for membership to the British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT). It may be possible that you can study part time; this would mean the course running for four years. Studying part time may be helpful if you are already employed occupational therapy technical instructor or support worker. Graduate entry schemes may also be available giving the chance to study a two year accelerated course and receiving a formal qualification.
Where to find work
Once you have all qualification required for occupational therapists you will be able to begin work, work in this field is becoming more and more popular and there is a good chance of work within your chosen preference or in a range of activities. The NHS is always on the look of for new staff and has a lot of part time and full time work available. Social services also have many posts that need filling all year round. Some of the places you may find work are in:
- Community centres
- Nursing homes
- Residential homes
- Voluntary agencies
- Primary care
- Patients homes
- Council departments
All of these places rely heavily on the knowledge and expertise of occupation therapists on a daily basis. There is work available in these sectors across the UK and also overseas, hospitals and organisation are always looking to employ British occupational therapy workers due to the high standard of work and knowledge that acquired during studying.