The individual that desires a career as an occupational therapist should consider occupational therapy masters programs or doctoral programs. Additionally, in order to be eligible for employment in this field, a graduate will need to obtain licensure through the state in which they reside.
What you can expect from a Master’s Program
The occupational therapy masters programs will teach a student how to help a patient to improve their functional living and work skills. A student will learn evidence based principles, research methods and critical thinking skills, in order to help them to assist clients who suffer from physical, mental or developmental disabilities. In addition to lab sessions and classroom learning, these programs will also include clinical experiences through internships working alongside licensed occupational therapists.
A student that applies for admission into this type of program will need to have a bachelor’s degree with prerequisite classwork in topics such as psychology, statistics, physiology and anatomy. Many colleges have certain GPA requirements for these classes. A school might prefer a student to have worked or volunteered in the field, before they apply to the program.
These graduate programs will include coursework in patient advocacy, body systems, neuroanatomy, occupational therapy research and occupational development.
All licensed OTs will need to complete a certain amount of continuing education classes each year, in order to be eligible to renew their license every two years. Graduates that wish to continue with their education in this field can do so by enrolling in the doctoral program for this career field.
Doctoral Programs for the Occupational Therapist
The doctoral program will prepare a student for a position in research. This program will provide students with the flexibility to pursue a certain area in this field. Students will be required to complete a doctoral thesis by completing original research in the field. Some of these programs are available through correspondence schools or are offered as blended programs from local colleges.
Individuals that apply to this program will need to have completed a degree program in OT. Some schools can require the student to complete a master’s degree program in order to be considered for enrollment. Other prerequisites can include holding valid certification as an OT.
The three year doctoral program will include more advanced coursework in research. Some of the core classes will include topics such as occupation centered practice, statistics, research methods, applied scientific philosophy, occupational performance and patient interaction research. There are currently only six of these programs that are accredited. Clinical rotations and professional fieldwork are typically included in the program curriculum. Internships will generally take place in a variety of settings, in order to help the student to determine which area of this field they desire to specialize in.