Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are advanced healthcare practitioners with similar responsibilities, such as diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medications. However, their training and paths toward certification differ in significant ways. This blog post unpacks the key differences between NPs and PAs to help you determine which career path best aligns with your goals. What Is a Nurse Practitioner? A nurse practitioner (NP) is a licensed clinician who provides comprehensive healthcare to patients of all ages. An NP can work in virtually any healthcare setting, diagnosing patient conditions and prescribing medications. As of October 2022, nurse practitioners have full practice authority in 27 states, meaning that they can practice Read more
Becoming an occupational therapist is no easy matter. From being accepted to a program to completing a degree, it’s a path that requires a lot of time, energy, and investment. You will also have to consider how much is occupational therapy school, as well as consider the difference between occupational therapy vs physical therapy salary, and other health care professions. But those who choose to pursue this career will spend their professional lives helping patients and making a difference in the world—what could be more fulfilling than that?
If you think occupational therapy might answer the question of what you want to do with your professional life, there’s another query left to answer—where can you work as an occupational therapist?
There are a variety of different settings where occupational therapists do their incredible, life-changing work. From therapy offices to school campuses, exploring where occupational therapists work can help you learn where you should start your professional journey.
The Offices of Other Therapists
Sometimes, a patient needs a whole team of healthcare professionals to support their wellness goals; occupational therapy intervention can be used to help supplement many other types of treatment effectively. As a result, it makes perfect sense that many occupational therapy jobs—25% to be precise—are located in the offices of other therapists.
If your job is located in another licensed occupational therapist’s private practice, that means you’ll have a team around you to ensure the best outcome for your patient. You can work with other professionals to help those who are seeking an effective treatment plan for:
- Speech-related problems
- Mental health issues
- Hearing difficulties
- Mobility problems
- Visual impairment
- Past accidents they need to recover from
One of the best parts of being in a work environment with other occupational therapist practitioners is that you’ll never be alone in providing patient care. You’ll have a group of empathetic, caring professionals to help provide your patients with the best possible outcome.
If you were to ask an occupational therapist, “Where can occupational therapists work?” the most common answer you’ll probably get is, “Hospitals.” Hospitals are the biggest source of employment for occupational therapists. In fact, about 3 out of 10 occupational therapists work out of hospitals.
Though the basic tenets of an occupational therapy service remain constant no matter where you work, your job as an occupational therapist at a hospital might still have some noticeable differences from other potential workplaces. Why? Because the patients you’ll be working with at a hospital will have different needs and levels of care than those in an office or a school.
At a hospital, your patients:
- Might regularly need more urgent care
- Could be more inbound
- May not be long-term or permanent clients
Since people who come to hospitals tend to seek urgent care, you could likely face more urgent patient-care scenarios if you take a job at one.
In Nursing Homes
For the elderly, little everyday activities that seemed effortless in youth can become a struggle in their golden years. Everything from opening a jar to walking down the grocery aisle becomes more difficult for seniors—that’s why the expertise of a licensed occupational therapist is invaluable in nursing homes.
Whether they’re suffering from potential pre-existing mobility issues due to age or new ones that require treatment after a recent accident, seniors rely on occupational therapy intervention to improve their quality of life and perform daily tasks.
That’s why nursing homes keep occupational therapy practitioners on staff to help their residential, inbound patients when needed. Occupational therapists who find themselves working in nursing homes or care facilities are often responsible for:
- Aiding those with limited ability to transport themselves
- Rehabilitating patients who have suffered from recent injuries
- Helping residents gain more mobility and independence
- Assisting them in improving at basic everyday tasks
Nursing homes don’t employ as many occupational therapists as hospitals or general therapy offices. However, the work at care facilities can be particularly rewarding for those who enjoy working with the elderly.
On the other side of the age spectrum, children are another demographic that reap the benefits of pediatric occupational therapy. While colleges and high schools usually don’t keep occupational therapists on staff, some elementary schools have begun hiring them to better benefit their students and improve inclusivity.
Pediatric occupational therapy is extremely beneficial for kids with:
- Learning disorders
- Speech impediments
- Communication difficulties
- Sensory issues
Occupational therapists who work with children can make a huge impact at an early and vulnerable time in their patients’ lives. If you love working with kids, continuing your pediatric occupational therapy career by working at a school might be the right move.
Build a Quality Foundation for Your Career with USAHS
Finding your place as an occupational therapist will be a journey of hard work and heart work. You might discover you have a passion for working with hospital patients, or find true fulfillment working with young children. The more you learn about each place, the more you’ll learn where your career path lies. However, no matter your destination, the road begins with the same first step—choosing an occupational therapy program that will help you along the way.
For those committed to a career in occupational therapy, there’s no better place to start than the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. We offer top-notch, accredited occupational therapy graduate education including Masters in Occupational Therapy (MOT) and Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD).
We also offer an extensive alumni network to connect with when you’re ready to take your first steps into the healthcare field. That way, you have a group of peers you can turn to for support and advice.
If you’re ready to take the next step on your journey to becoming an occupational therapist, let the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences help you get to your destination.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Therapists. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm#tab-3
The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree (MOT) programs at the San Marcos, California; St. Augustine and Miami, Florida; and Austin, Texas, campuses and the entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree (OTD) programs at the San Marcos, California; St. Augustine and Miami, Florida; Austin and Dallas, Texas, campuse are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is 301-652-AOTA, and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.