As I continue to learn more about occupational therapy before school starts, I thought I would review the six practice areas as outline by AOTA. The information they have is not very satisfying, but I did not examine the links. I am basing my reviews over all the information I have gathered so far. What is listed below is not necessarily fact, but my personal beliefs.
1.Children and Youth
This is the area I know the most about because it is where I have done all my volunteer work. Occupational therapists can work in schools, homes, hospitals, and other rehabilitation settings in this area. With my limited knowledge this is where I currently I want to work. According to my school 50% of their students end up working in this area for their first job. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) seems to be the big story in this area currently, but occupational therapists also treat autism and cerebral palsy as well as other disorders.
2. Health and Wellness
This area seems to be prevention based and heavily community based. Advocacy for better health and wellness to schools, communities, and the nation seem to come from here. I have yet to meet anyone from this area, but a few of the AOTA's podcasts seem to come from this area. Currently, I have a curiosity about the area, but I do not see it being a large part of my career directly.
3. Mental Health
This is another area that I know little about so far. I did read one blog where they did fieldwork in the mental health area. It is hard for me currently to imagine the goals one would create for people in this area. From what I can tell this appears to be one of occupational therapy's first areas, but then occupational therapy mostly abandoned this field for a time because of other professions joining this area. Lately, there have been strides for occupational therapy to really get back in the field of mental health. I think this would be an area I would like to experience.
4. Productive Aging
This is an area that has grown and will grow tremendously as the baby boomers continue to age. This is also an area where there is a lot of money to be made I have heard. I think this would be a very interesting population to work with filled with stories, but this population also scares me because I think I would have a hard time instructing and pushing someone older than me because of my raising. I am also scared of this area because I feel like it is more about preventing decline than it is about improving living quality because of the population. This is an area of mixed feelings, but an area where occupational therapy is making huge strides and I can't wait to see how it continues to evolve.
5. Rehabilitation, Disability, and Participation
A few of the blogs I have read mention experiences in this area. This is what I associate with occupational therapy when I am not considering a pediatric setting. In this area, I also picture the colliding of physical and occupational therapists the most. I picture most occupational therapists in this area working in a hospital or rehab setting, but I can also see them doing home modifications or modifying the community. I would love to work with a client trying to get their community work best for them so that they can achieve more.
6. Work and Industry
This is what people think of when I mention occupational therapy and they have never heard of it before, but this is a section I have very little knowledge. I did hear on AOTA podcast that talked about developing better workspaces. I have also heard the green movement and ergonomics being part of this area too. I could not see this as the focus as my practice, but I could see the findings of this area influencing whatever I do decide to practice.
I have mentioned that I prefer certain areas to others, but I do not mean to limit myself. I am trying to be honest with myself at the moment. When I was first introduced to occupational therapy, I did not see myself having a career in the field either. I think it is important to go to my classes and different experiences with an open mind and an understanding of what makes me uneasy about a particular area. Often the uneasiness will go away with experience and knowledge and little will limit me. It seems so weird that school is just a little over a month away. It has felt so far away for so long. The reality that I am going to school to be an occupational therapist is finally starting to sink in. There is a lot of excitement in this, but there is also some fear and worry. I have wanted this for so long and what if it does not work out or I hate it. I believe in every big change there is some trepidation, especially if you enjoy the way things are. Well with that enjoy your 3 day weekend.