As summer approaches, many high school students are getting ready to graduate and head off to colleges across the nation.
As a soon to graduate college student, who attended our own Fallston High School, I would like to suggest a major that is little known but highly rewarding: occupational therapy. Occupational therapy was established as a profession in 1917 and has continued to grow to this day. Occupational therapists work with individuals from all walks of life on participation in activities or occupations that are meaningful to them. In other words, we help people to get back to doing what they love to do. This could be something as simple as teaching an individual who had a stroke how to put his shirt on or assessing an elderly woman's ability to drive.
This profession works in all aspects of life including healthy living, mental health, aging, work related care, disability and rehabilitation, caregiver training, school-based and children and youth. In 2010, the American Occupational Therapy Association estimated there were approximately 102,500 licensed occupational therapists within the United States with 26 percent working in hospitals, 21.6 percent working in schools, 19.9 percent working at nursing homes and 32.3 percent working in other settings including outpatient clinics, home health, academia, early intervention, community and mental health (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2010).
In 2008, occupational therapy was ranked eighth on Dr. Shatkin's list of "150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs" and in 2013 occupational therapy was recognized as one of the top 10 careers in healthcare by the U. S. News & World Report.
As a current occupational therapy student scheduled to graduate this May, I would encourage any high school student who enjoys helping people to look into this growing profession. We truly assist individuals to live as independently as possible and view the client as a whole person not as just another name on a chart.
While we are a small profession, we are comprised of passionate, dedicated therapists who strive for all people to live life to the fullest. If you are interested in getting more information on the profession of occupational therapy, please visit The American Occupational Therapy Association's website aota.org.
Karissa Pavelka, OTS