Occupational therapists focus on getting people back to work and other everyday skills and tasks when recovering from illness or injury. It requires a special set of people-centered skills, as well as clinical acumen, in order to do the job well. Let’s review some of the hard and soft skills you’ll need to excel in this important caring profession.
Having the Right Skills Makes All the Difference
Communication skills are vitally important to occupational therapists. These professionals work closely with patients to establish an exercise or another therapeutic regimen to improve their mobility and overall health. Occupational therapists must know when to cajole patients into improving, while also understanding when to listen and adjust their approach. They must be able to communicate effectively with all kinds of people who may be in pain or frustrated, and they must do it in a way that invites the participation of the patient. They must also have good written communication skills, as documentation of the case is a requirement of the job.
People skills will allow the occupational therapist to respond to patients who are difficult or frustrated. Patients are different, so the occupational therapist must be able to adjust their approach to the very calm patient or the very excitable one. In each case, the occupational therapist must respond appropriately, combining respect and appreciation for the person with on-the-job efficiency.
Troubleshooting skills are very important because each client and case will be unique. Each patient will have different problems and each one will have a different attitude and level of motivation. The occupational therapist will have to solve problems on the fly, depending on the mood, approach and illness inherent in every client.
Physical strength is a requisite of the occupational therapy role. To serve clients effectively, the therapist may need to lift the patient or bend over them in bed for an extended period of time. The therapist’s goal is to assist the patient in whatever they need, and physical strength and stamina is just part of the job.
An organized mindset will be important to managing a caseload of any size. In addition to managing their own schedule, the occupational therapist may have to help the patient with meetings and scheduling. Traveling to and from client sites, handling a treatment plan and documentation, and then helping the client set appointments or testing are all part of the job description.
Patience really is a virtue of the occupational therapist position. It is actually a seminal skill required for the position. When people are in pain, they can get cranky. Making sure you’re adept at taking a deep breath before speaking, and always practicing calm professionalism, are absolutely crucial for doing the job well. The worst patients can be stubborn or depressed but the best ones are a joy; you don’t have the luxury of anything but patience with all of them.
To find out more about a career in occupational health and the skills you’ll need to succeed, contact the talented team at Therapia Staffing. We can help you succeed in the lucrative career of occupational health.