April is Occupational Therapy month. Quoted below is the press release by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
(Bethesda, MD) – The numbers don’t lie. Demand for occupational therapy services is on the rise and new practitioners are needed to fill that demand. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is using OT Month 2008 as an opportunity to highlight the profession as a vital and satisfying career choice.
We are looking everywhere for new practitioners to help us keep up with demand, said AOTA President Penny Moyers Cleveland, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA. AOTA members are going out into their communities, universities and even high schools to find qualified applicants. We want students of all ages to know what occupational therapists do and how they can join this dynamic and caring profession.
Occupational therapy has been cited as a top profession for 2008 by US News and World Report.
A study by the Midwest Center for Health Workforce Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007 showed that a shortage of practitioners affects all geographic regions and practice settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and community settings. The study concluded that the shortage exists as a result of both increased demand and reduced supply.
Many new client groups are asking for occupational therapy — from parents of children with autism to people with low vision problems, said Dr. Moyers Cleveland. Prevention and wellness are important too but we need to recruit more candidates to meet the need.
Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics support the conclusions of the workforce study. According to BLS data, employment for occupational therapy practitioners is expected to increase 23 percent between 2006 and 2016. This is much faster than the average rate of employment increases for all other occupations. The BLS also noted that median earnings for occupational therapists topped the $60,000 mark. Occupational therapy programs report that graduates are being offered salaries of up to $75,000 for some fields.
As we prepare to celebrate the professions centennial in 2017, these numbers show that occupational therapy practitioners must be available to meet the needs of society, added Dr. Moyers Cleveland. OT Month is the opportunity to spread our message and recruit more practitioners. After all, who better than practitioners to explain what a great career choice occupational therapy is?”
For ideas and resources on how to promote awareness of occupational therapy, click here.