What does a day in the life of an Occupational Therapist look like?
What does an occupational therapist actually do all day? If you are considering becoming an occupational therapist, or if you are just curious about the profession, you may be wondering exactly that. Let’s take a look at the day to day tasks an OT performs on the job.
Most occupational therapists begin their day by refreshing their memories. They will look over the days scheduled appointments and review the files of these clients, making notes of what to discuss or do with the client when they come in.
There may be paperwork to fill out, possibly for doctor’s offices, or insurance or community programs that employ occupational therapists. After completing the paperwork, it may be a good time to keep in touch with colleagues by replying to emails or sending out a few new ones.
With all of the previous tasks completed, it’s a good idea to decide the course of action for each client that is scheduled for an appointment in the coming day.
A last task, before patients begin coming in, is a quick look at the work areas the clients will be seen in. It is, of course, pleasant to have a clean environment. Neatness is not only important but necessary. The clients that come in may have difficulty navigating a cluttered, disordered room. Putting the area in order also makes for a streamlined work environment helping the appointment go much more smoothly. Less time that is spent looking for needed equipment, the more time that can be spent working with the client.
When clients come in, the occupational therapist will review their case with them. If the client is new, an assessment will follow. Otherwise, a bit of time will be spent going over the history of the client’s treatment. Questions about how the client feels and how the client is progressing will be part of the session. The OT uses this time to analyze the state of the client on that day and adjust the session if necessary.
After the brief interview with the client, the OT begins the session, which varies from client to client, but may include working on balance, flexibility or strength, or teaching the client how to do day to day things like dressing, cooking or using a computer.
After all clients have been seen, the occupational therapist may finish up more paperwork, make some calls, faxes or emails and review their schedule for the next day.
There may also be team meetings to attend, which will vary from place to place or client to client.
Sometimes the day does not go as planned. If a certain client is unavailable for their appointment for any reason or has to cancel, an occupational therapist will have to improvise. Contact another client to see if they can come in earlier, or trying to schedule another appointment to fill the gap. If these options are not possible, the occupational therapist may finish up some paperwork, look over client cases, catch up on phone calls, faxes and emails or any other small tasks of this type.
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