Making a difference: Become an occupational therapist
WE HAVE all dealt with difficulties in life and somehow managed to overcome them. Occupational therapy is when a person is aided in achieving and maintaining independence in all areas of their life..
WE HAVE all dealt with difficulties in life and somehow managed to overcome them.
Some people in society are not so lucky and need something or someone to help them deal with certain issues and difficulties.
Occupational therapy is one of the ways in which a person can be helped. Occupational therapy is when a person is aided in achieving and maintaining independence in all areas of their life.
Annabél Basson and Ria-Lize Theart are occupational therapists (OTs) working at the Denmar Specialist Psychiatric Hospital.
They teach life skills to people and enable them to live a balanced life after they leave the hospital.
Both say it is their dream job and they are keen to do more in the field.
An OT can earn about R7,000 a month as a starting salary. They also receive a scarce skills' allowance, as well as a rural allowance.
An OT can deal with the physical as well as the psychological ailments. The aim of OTs is to improve their clients' daily functioning, which includes work, self-care and recreational activities.
Pros and cons
"The pros are that you get to work with people all the time and therefore have the opportunity to build a therapeutic relationship with your patients/clients. It is very fulfilling to see improvements in patients and you can be creative, because you use activities to treat patients."
Both Basson and Theart say: "The cons are the salary and it can be very tiring and emotionally draining."
Before you start studying, you are required to go and shadow other OTs to get an idea of the various types of specialisations and to be able to participate in the selection for the course.
The selection is tough and both Basson and Theart suggest doing volunteer work in high schools, as this will be a benefit when candidates are selected.
The course is a B Occupational Therapist degree. The duration is four years and following this you are required to do one year's community service. After your community service you are an independent practitioner.
You should have science, mathematics and biology at school. A matric exemption and an average A on your report is also required.
Other requirements are living a balanced life, with school work and extra-curricular activities, such as sport and cultural activities having equal importance in your life.
To do this career you should be sensitive, caring, a people's person, creative, adaptable and have perseverance.
An average day
An average day starts at 7.30am and ends at 3.30pm. They start the day with ward rounds.
They do sports, craft activities and hold socio-emotional (life skills) groups with patients to improve their mood and help them cope with life after they are discharged. They assess patients throughout the day .
The best thing about the job
Basson loves working with people, and says: "The best thing is that you get to influence someone's life and make a difference."
Theart says: "The best thing is knowing you can help someone live a better life".
The worst thing
"It is realising how many people there are around us who are unhappy".