Occupational therapists (OTs) help people of all ages who have physical, cognitive, emotional, or social challenges to regain and maintain their ability to participate in everyday life.
They work with individuals and groups to provide assessment, treatment, and education in various settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics, and private practices. OTs may also work as self-employed consultants.
There are only a few disadvantages associated with being employed as an occupational therapist. Despite its many benefits, there are a couple of challenges that occupational therapists face on the job every day. Here are 6 of the most common obstacles that OTs face on a daily:
1 – The Medical Field is Emotionally Stressful
As with many occupations in the medical field, being employed as an occupational therapist occasionally entails directly dealing with disturbing and heavy cases. These cases can leave individuals stressed out and unable to separate professional lives from personal ones.
Emotional stress as an OT can also come from indirect sources such as the patient’s family or members of the medical team. Due to constraints involving therapy time with the patient, effectively implementing a seamless plan for a patient can be near impossible.
As with all forms of therapy, developing perfect plans from the first draft is often unachievable without issues along the way. Negative comments from patients, family members, and medical professionals about scheduling appointments can add to the stress.
Some patients can be challenging to work with due to their behavior or attitude. OTs must be able to manage difficult situations and remain professional. They may also need to deal with families anxious about their loved one’s treatment or who are not supportive of the OT’s recommendations.
2 – Occupational Therapy is a Physically Demanding Job
The average day for an occupational therapist involves plenty of bending, walking, stretching, and lifting when working alongside patients and their environments.
An occupational therapist is frequently in motion, from assisting patients that are wheelchair-bound to demonstrating how specific assistance-providing devices function. This is aside from OTs documenting their work.
It can be strenuous to maintain this activity for long periods, especially if OTs have physical limitations.
3 – Institutional Barriers May Prevent Desired Results
External factors such as funding and policies may create a dissonance between a patient and the quality of life they deserve. For instance, wheelchair-bound patients should have access to an easy-to-use chair that successfully assists them in living in their desired environment.
Sadly, wheelchairs are expensive and highly technical devices that are too costly and, therefore, unattainable for many patients.
Depending on the medical environment and location they work in, occupational therapists may not have access to a large budget to work with when purchasing items for patients’ education and development.
Insurance companies are also challenging, as they may not always approve the recommended treatments or therapies. The coverage obstacle can be frustrating for both OTs and their patients.
4 – Long Work Hours Are Common
Occupational therapists often work long hours, especially when they are self-employed or in a hospital or clinic setting. The schedule can be tiring, making it entirely difficult to find time for a personal life outside of work.
Occupational therapists are rehabilitation professionals who work directly with the public. Even once a patient is no longer in the care of a medical facility, an occupational therapist continues to be directly involved with patient care. Some patients will require extra care, and therapy sessions can run longer than expected.
Individuals who want to work in occupational therapy jobs should expect to have their schedules stretched out from time to time.
5 – Learning New Techniques and Technology
As an occupational therapist, you will often find yourself working with patients who have a wide range of disabilities. Every patient is different, and therefore each case requires a slightly different approach. This can be both mentally and physically demanding, as you need to adapt your methods to each case.
You have to keep up to date with the latest research and developments in your field, which can be hard to do while being part of a busy clinical practice. As new technologies are developed and released, old methods become outdated.
Technology changes rapidly, so it can be hard to keep up. There are plenty of resources available to help OTs learn new techniques, such as online courses, tutorials, books, and articles.
Given how competitive the occupational therapist world is, it is essential to have a strong resume. This includes having a diverse range of methods, experience, and up-to-date qualifications.
6 – Finding a balance in your personal and professional life is hard
Due to the nature of the job, it can be taxing to find a good work-life balance as an occupational therapist. You may often find yourself working long hours, including evenings and weekends, to fit in around the schedule of patients.
The hours involved, caseload, and staying up-to-date can make it nearly impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a social life outside of work.
Equilibrium between your work and social life is essential in becoming a successful therapist. It may take some time to find the right ratio for you, but finding it is a must. You need to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, to perform well.
Contact TheraEx Staffing Today
Although there are some disadvantages of being an occupational therapist, the advantages far outweigh the sacrifices involved. Occupational therapists assist patients not only with rehabilitation but also in monitoring their mental and emotional states.
Yes, being an occupational therapist can be challenging, but it is also immensely rewarding. These professionals are compassionate, empathetic, and work tirelessly to ensure the best possible quality of life for all patients.
At TheraEx Staffing, we believe that every patient deserves the best possible care. We are proud to place highly skilled and experienced occupational therapists in facilities across the country.
If you are interested in finding out more about working as an occupational therapist, please contact TheraEx Staffing today. We would be happy to discuss your options and help you find the perfect position!