A Day in the Life of an Occupational Therapist

Physical Therapist Helping a Patient
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If you plan on becoming an occupational therapist, it helps to know what an average day will look like. Although no two days are the same, most occupational therapists can count on the work week falling into a similar pattern after working for a while at a rehabilitation center or similar facility.

Let’s look at what a day in the life of an occupational therapist is so you can become familiar with what it is like to work as an OT.

Getting to Know You

Occupational therapists often start the day as early as 6:00 a.m. An OT has to rise with their patients. Part of an OT’s job is helping a patient become accustomed to daily living activities. If a patient suffered a traumatic brain injury or physical injury, an occupational therapist may work with them to help them learn to wake up, get out of bed, get dressed, brush their teeth and get dressed. It is little things like this that are of major importance to occupational therapists.

An occupational therapist may evaluate a patient that she sees in the office. This may include evaluating a patient at the bedside as well. This may include lower extremity function, vision, memory, problem-solving ability, and other cognitive processing abilities or deficits. The OT may see six to eight patients in a day.

An OT will always need to review their schedule and catch up with each of the patients they plan to meet with daily. As part of her daily duties, an OT will make sure she is ready to discuss any pertinent issues and plan what tools may be needed to work with a patient that day. An OT may have paperwork she needs to review with a patient including insurance forms a patient needs to fill out.

Patient Care

Patient care occupies much of the day for a busy occupational therapist. Before an OT works with patients she may spend time examining the schedule to make sure everything is ready to work with patients. An OT will also inspect the therapy or rehabilitation area to make sure it is clean and ready to work in.

Some OTs work from a client’s home. In this case, an OT may have to prepare to travel to the patient’s home. Some OTs will also have to attend lectures during a day or spend time educating patients and family members about a patient’s condition. Still, others will spend time in the community teaching others about occupational therapy and about early intervention programs related to occupational therapy. An occupational therapist may also spend time coordinating care with other therapists, including physical therapists and speech-language pathologists.

Administrative Duties

All occupational therapists also have administrative duties they must tend to during the day. An OT may need to make phone calls, check emails or return messages. There may be other tasks that need to be handled during the day, which may include business meetings or staff meetings. If an OT has her own business she may need to spend time checking in on staff, managing staff or attending to staff needs.

Often interruptions occur during the day. These may include missed appointments, canceled appointments, or appointments that run longer than expected, which can disrupt the schedule. All in all most occupational therapists enjoy very busy, but also very rewarding days.

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