What exactly is Occupational Health?
Occupational Health is the promotion and support of workers in all occupations so they can maintain a high degree of physical, mental and social well-being. The aim is to prevent people from leaving their jobs due to poor health and an OH role is also to control risks and to look at the adaptation of work to people, and people to their jobs.
OH has an important role within the Public sector, which is the area of the economy which is concerned with providing basic government services. In general, the public sector includes services such as police, the military, public roads and transit, primary education and healthcare for the poor.
If you would like a job helping people this could be perfect for you. Occupational therapists help people overcome difficulties caused by physical or mental illness, an accident or the ageing process. They work with clients to help them to lead full and independent lives and, where possible, prevent disability.
You will need a degree, or to have completed a postgraduate course.
You must have the ability to engender good working relationships with colleagues and will need to motivate clients who may be disappointed or frustrated. It’s imperative that you also have patience, determination and a positive attitude.
What could I expect my work activities to be?
As an occupational health therapist you would generally work with clients on a one-to-one basis, adapting treatment programmes to suit their needs and lifestyle. The role could include such things as:
- Encouraging someone with depression to take up a hobby or activity which would help them move towards recovery.
- Suggesting adaptations to the workplace so that someone (who may have been) injured in a car accident can safely look at returning to their normal work environment.
- Assisting clients to adjust to living with permanent disabilities.
You would keep notes regarding your clients' progress, advising and supporting them and their families and care providers.
Some clients may be suffering from conditions like MND, (motor neurone disease,) or MS, (multiple sclerosis,) meaning that, over time, they will likely become less mobile and more disabled. Working closely with these clients can help them to maintain a positive attitude, which, in turn, will assist them in keeping active for as long as possible.
You would probably be working with clients for differing periods of time – some could be several months, while others may be just for a few sessions. Often you would be working as part of a combined team of professionals of physiotherapists, nurses and social workers.
What are the entry requirements?
You will need a degree, or to have completed a postgraduate course, in Occupational Therapy which has been approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Before applying for a course, it’s a great idea to gain relevant experience or knowledge by maybe contacting the OT unit at a local hospital, or other health centre to ask if you could become involved.
To do a degree in OT, you will generally need:
- 5 GCSEs (A-C) including maths and English.
- 3 A levels, usually including 1 science subject, (generally biology.)
Individual universities may have different entry details for other qualifications, like health-related Access to Higher Education course, HNC or a foundation degree may be acceptable.
Another road into OH is to begin as an OT support worker. Your employer may allow you to work towards your qualification as an OT by taking an ‘in-service’ degree course which will lead to state registration.
You will need to have background checks completed by the DBS, (Disclosure and Barring Service,) when applying for a course.
In conclusion, skills, interests and qualities necessary
|To become an occupational therapist, you will need:
- To be creative and adaptable in your approach to work.
- The ability to design and develop treatment programmes on an individual basis.
- A great sense of humour.
- Enhanced communication skills, both written and spoken.
- An ability to form great relationships with colleagues and clients.
- Patience, determination and a positive mental attitude.
- Ability to motivate clients when they are feeling disappointed or frustrated.
- Ability to understand, empathise and accept that other people have different priorities and lifestyles.
- A practical approach to problem-solving.
- High levels of both mental and physical stamina.
- A strong desire to help and assist people.
If you are interested in working within the Public sector within Occupational Health - check out the current opportunities that are on our site.