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Pre-Occupational Therapy

    Pre-Occupational Therapy

    Occupational Therapy: An occupational therapist (OT) works with individuals whose participation in life has been interrupted by physical injury/illness, develop­mental/learning disabilities, psychological/emotional problems or the aging process. OTs use purposeful activity as a means of preventing, reducing or overcom­ing physical, social and emotional challenges in people of all ages. OTs enlist patients’ involvement in their therapy by selecting therapeutic activities that increase daily living skills, the ability to work and participation in leisure pursuits.

    The therapist carefully evaluates each person to deter­mine physical and/or mental strengths and weaknesses. In conjunction with the patient, family and other health professionals, OTs develop a program using purposeful activities and adaptive equipment to correct identi­fied problems. The occupational therapy program is goal-oriented to decrease limitations, build strengths, increase self-confidence and help achieve and maintain maximum independence and success in daily living.

    Therapeutic activity and treatment programs vary according to individual needs. For example, the occu­pational therapist may: teach a person recovering from a stroke to dress without assistance; instruct a cardiac patient in energy-saving techniques; or assist a person suffering from abuse to build self-esteem and coping skills necessary for successful performances in work, self-care and leisure. Treatment for an orthopedically challenged child might include working with the child’s teacher and parents to improve classroom participa­tion and playing skills, as well as to increase the child’s ability to grasp and manipulate toys. OTs assist patients in changing their physical and mental challenges into productive living patterns.

    Careers: The U.S. Department of Labor recognizes oc­cupational therapy as among the fastest growing and most needed health care professions. There is a severe shortage of therapists nationwide. The number of pa­tients requiring occupational therapy is increasing faster than the number of OTs.

    Graduates of master’s degree programs enjoy a robust employment market, and entry-level salaries average $30,000 to $40,000 nationally. Both salaries and oppor­tunities vary depending on geographical region.

    Programs: Capital University students can prepare to enter graduate school in occupational therapy by one of two routes: a combined bachelor’s/master’s program (often referred to as a 3-2 program); or a traditional pro­gram of a bachelor’s degree prior to graduate school.

    In the combined program, students spend three years at Capital University taking courses in biology, chemistry, physics and psychology. During the senior year, stu­dents complete the requirements for a bachelor of arts degree (biology) from Capital and simultaneously begin work on a master of science degree (occupational ther­apy) from the graduate school. The master’s degree is completed in two to two and a half years. At the present time, Capital students may apply under this program to the graduate programs at Washington University in St. Louis or to the University of Indianapolis.

    A more traditional approach to occupational therapy is to complete a bachelor of arts degree (biology or psychology) during four years at Capital, and then apply to a master of science program in occupational therapy at any graduate school in the country. Nearest to Capital University are programs at the Medical College of Ohio (Toledo), University of Indianapolis, Chatham College and Duquesne University (Pittsburgh), and Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo). Most students who elect this route find it advantageous to pursue a psy­chology or biology minor.

    Students in Capital University’s pre-OT program are encouraged to be involved in a clinical internship or volunteer program prior to applying to graduate school. Such experience is invaluable in helping to understand the field of occupational therapy and to be fully pre­pared for the interview process.

    To be successful in applying to graduate school, a stu­dent needs to maintain a minimum 3.20 gpa and score highly on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).