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How To Transition From Therapeutic Recreation To Occupational Therapy 

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The medical field is expanding ever so rapidly in today’s society. Occupational Therapy is a form of therapy that help patients with physical or mental illness by providing rehabilitation through the performance of activities that required in everyday life. The writer of this essay, Alia Ah Far would love to pursue a career that focuses on helping others battle back from life-changing injuries or surgeries so they are able to continue living their best lives. Alia has always had a strong passion for caring, supporting and helping those in need. These values represent some of the purest qualities any human could have and it is something she believes we should all invest more time in. Alia knew that applying for a major in Therapeutic Recreation was the right decision towards realizing her passion of helping people in need. Initially in her freshman year, Alia decided to study Biological science with a minor in pre-chiropractic during with the hopes of becoming a chiropractor one day. However, her plans took a turn when she discovered that the foundation of this major was predominantly focused on the College Algebra and Statistics.

Alia is mathematically-challenged so at the time she knew that pursuing Biological Science would be very difficult and not enjoyable. During this difficult time, she spoke to a friend about her challenges with math and her friend mentioned that she was majoring in Therapeutic Recreation. Her friend explained that this area of study focuses more on social aspect of health science and leans towards Occupational therapy and helping people with illnesses and disabilities. In that moment, a light bulb went off in Alia’s head and she knew she should change her major to Therapeutic Recreation. When her friend recommended this major, Alia started thinking about her personal talents and interests. She considers herself to be a good listener, a considerate and patient person who is willing to support and provide for individuals who are in need. She is a very attentive person who can pick on a skill very quickly and adapt to difficult situations. She realized that she wanted to become an Occupational therapist and work with children who have disabilities to participate fully daily social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regather basic skills, and providing support for older people experiencing physical and cognitive challenges. Many college students are still in process of understanding their passions and deciding what is they would like to pursue in future. It is common for Therapeutic Recreation students, to experience uncertainty around this but it is important for students who are wanting to pursue Occupational therapy to understand what an Occupational therapist is, the academic process towards becoming an Occupational therapists and what they do for a living. Occupational therapy is the one of the few professions that helps people across their lifespan to develop basic skills through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability(1). The first step a student must take towards becoming an Occupational therapist is study towards a four year bachelor’s degree at a educated institution of their choice. However, this will depend on the requirements of the students future graduate school. Before pursuing a career in Occupational therapy, a student must earn a four year undergraduate degree in either of the following fields; Therapeutic Recreation, Biology, Psychology, Sociology, Kinesiology or Health science(3). In this situation, when earning a Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation, it is important to fill their class schedule with the course prerequisites they need and to also complete volunteer work to gain the experience they will need in this field. Therapeutic Recreation provides a strong foundation of courses and hands-on learning experiences that are designed to help students develop skills in assessment, planning, programming, leadership, and evaluation.

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The course requirements include 7 general educations classes and 5 core subjects; BSC 22700 human anatomy, Human development, Abnormal Psychology, Processes & techniques in Therapeutic Recreation, Professional Issues and Current Trends in Therapeutic Recreation and Assessment techniques in Therapeutic Recreation. The undergraduate courses needed to earn a B. S. in Therapeutic Recreation will prepare the graduate with applied leadership positions with clinical and community agencies providing a wide variety of health care services(2). Of all the course prerequisites, Therapeutic Recreation students find Human Anatomy and Physiology the most challenging. Many of the topics covered in this science class require a lot of memorization of anatomy and a deep understanding of the physiological processes. A lot of the memorization includes the names of bone, names of specific features of specific bones, which bones articulate together via which features, names of muscles, etc. , etc. The physiological aspect mostly involves mastering key concepts and the ability to thoroughly explain them, which takes time and practice.

When students have graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic, they will then need to consider studying towards a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. In previous years, Occupational Therapists only required a bachelor’s degree to become licensed. Since 2007 all states, except Colorado, began enforce that Occupational therapist professionals have at least a master’s degree(3). Both qualifications will ensure these individuals are well-prepared as they enter the work force. The second step a student must take towards becoming a Occupational therapists is to continue studying for 2-3 more years to earn a master’s degree in Occupational therapy. A degree that is fully approved by the American Occupational Therapy Association. During the two to three years of study, the student will be working in hospitals, private homes, care centers, rehabilitation and recovery clinics to gain knowledge and experience in Occupational Therapy. After a student has graduated with their master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, he or she must complete a NBCOT (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy) Examination for Licensure. The process for signing up to take the NBCOT is not difficult, but it should be clearly understood and followed. First you must create an account on ‘My NBCOT’. Once the student has created this account, they will need to complete the online application process for taking the exam, making sure they reserve enough time to finish the application because it cannot be saved and resumed at a later date. Then submit your academic verification documents. This will either be in the form of a transcript or a ACVF form. The ACVF form must be submitted no more than 6 months prior to graduating an entry level master’s degree programs and 12 months prior to the anticipated graduation date from an entry-level doctoral program. The student must then wait for the Authorization to Test (ATT) letter. This is most nerve – racking part.

The ATT is what allows the student to sign up at a Prometric testing center. Now, an ATT is only valid for 90 days before having to request to reactivate your ATT. After the student has undergone this process, they can sit the exam. The Occupational therapy license requirement differ from state to state, but most license require an application fee, by submitting college transcripts, a background check, and scores on the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination(3). When you have payed the application fee of approximately $500 to $540, the student will need to take the exam with their state licensing board and receive a passing score or wait 45 days to retake it(3). Lastly, when the student has qualified with a Occupational therapist license within their state, they will be required to learn and maintain their current knowledge of therapeutic techniques by completing continuing education credits(3).

Occupational Therapist must also have strong communication skills, compassion and empathy, and also have the ability to demonstrate patience and flexibility in difficult situations. Over the years, Occupational therapy has evolved as a profession as the baby boomer generation continues to age and older people remain more active later on in their lives. There has been an increasing high demand for Occupational Therapist to help older adults to develop strategies to make daily activities easier for optimal independence. These health-care professionals assist these individuals in a way that improves their mental and physical health so they can continue to live a happy life. The employment growth is also predicted to increase. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations(4). Therefore, when you follow these steps to become an Occupational Therapist, you will benefit from a great life-long career of making a difference in the lives of individuals struggling with daily tasks by helping them improve their quality of life. There are reasons and inspirations to support an Individual’s decision to pursue a certain career pathway. Alia’s decision to become an Occupational therapist is based on a set of values that she deems are the most important in deciding on a career. Interaction with a variety of people through work is something she values. As a Occupational therapist, she will be engaging with different patients each day, designing and implementing individualized treatment plans. She will also communicate regularly with other medical professionals, including medical doctors and other Occupational Therapists. Thus, the diversity of personal interactions and treatment programs will make her work interesting and exciting. Job security is an important factor. Healthcare professionals will always be needed to help promote and maintain individuals’ health. Since many diseases, ailments, and injuries have physically debilitating effects, Occupational Therapists are often necessary to enhance or maintain people’s physical functioning.

Therefore, as long as physical functionality continues to be important to individuals, OT’s will continue to be essential. Lastly, the occupational attribute that Alia values most is helping other people through her work. A career as an Occupational Therapist will enable her to have a positive impact on individuals’ lives by helping them achieve rehabilitation goals and enhancing their overall well-being. The thought of becoming a Occupational therapist one day makes Alia want to strive harder in her studies. She knows that she has potential to make a significant impact in the field of Occupational Therapy and knows it would be amazing to help people who are in need. Alia’s passion for serving others has always been something that has driven and inspired her to be a better person. Overall, the following step-by-step process will help a Therapeutic Recreation major student to take steps towards becoming an Occupational Therapist. Becoming familiar with the career they would like to pursue and the coursework required to qualify in your career choice is very important to ensure that they are taking the right steps and pursuing a career that they know they are passionate about.


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