If you’re interested in a career in occupational therapy, finding the right school is critical. Starting your career is very exciting, and the field of occupational therapy is growing. There are many opportunities to use your skills and knowledge to help people who are struggling with everyday task. If you have been looking into where the best schools are, and where you might have plentiful opportunities to practice as an occupational therapist, Florida might be a great place for you to consider. The Florida Occupational Therapy Association can be a great source for specific information, in addition to what we outline in this article.
There are many options to obtain a quality education and well-respected degree from one of the many occupational therapy schools in Florida. In this article, we’ll take a look at the field of occupational therapy, and why it’s important to pick the right school. We’ll then take a closer look at some of the important aspects of an occupational therapy school in Florida that you need to take into account before choosing the school you want to attend. We hope that the information you get from this article will allow you to make the best decision for your immediate schooling and your long-term future in this exciting field.
Why Occupational Therapy?
Before we look at the best options for occupational therapy schools in Florida, first we need to understand what the field of occupational therapy is all about. We’ll also take a look at how occupational therapists use their skills to help people have better lives. After all, at the root of the job, an occupational therapist is focused on directly improving the quality of life for their patients; the people these therapists serve are experiencing difficulties and struggles in their everyday lives.
There are many health care providers who help people after a serious accident, stroke, surgery or who have another medical condition that makes life difficult. For instance, maybe an elderly patient has had a stroke, and is having difficulty buttoning their shirt. Or, maybe a young athlete severely dislocated their shoulder, and they’re having a hard time getting their work done. Occupational therapists work with patients of all ages, from children to senior adults. They help people get back to living their lives, as usual – or, at least as best as their condition will permit.
Occupational therapists are almost like a personal trainer, but their job is to help their patients overcome extraordinary struggles in their live. While a personal trainer develops fitness plan, and maybe even nutrition programs, the occupational therapist will create a plan for helping their patients adapt to every-day living. The work of an occupational therapist revolves around patient care and improvement; first, by understanding the living situations of their patients, and what goals the patient has for getting around more comfortably and easily. Basically, the occupational therapist helps patients make their lives better.
Importance of Picking the Right School
What school you pick for your occupational therapy career can have a huge impact on your future success, in the short and long-term. Choosing the right school is especially important when considering a career in occupational therapy. This is because the school you select lays down the very foundation for your career in this field, and can have a direct and important impact on job placement and future learning potential.
In fact, picking the right occupational therapy school in Florida might be one of the most important career decisions you have had to make. When you’re looking at colleges and occupational therapy school, look for programs that fit your goals and needs. You want to make sure there are no unnecessary obstacles in your way while you’re pursuing your certification. Fortunately, for students exploring this career, Florida has a wide variety of great colleges that also offer occupational therapy tracks for undergraduate students. This will help you complete your full education in less time.
If you already have an undergraduate degree, there are still many options available to you to get the education you need in occupational therapy. If you’re looking for a master’s degree program for occupational degree, you also have many great options that will help you reach your education and career goals relatively quickly.
Advantages to Campus-Based versus Online Schools
Just like all medical professionals have to go to school to get their certification or license, an occupational therapist school in Florida will help you with the same essential education. In Florida, you are required to have a license to work as an occupational therapist. When you enroll in a certified occupational therapy school in Florida, you will be provided with a structured program and directions on how you will go about obtaining your occupational therapist license. There are several steps to this process, and your school can help you complete each of them, in the timeliest way possible.
Of course, there are certified online programs, but the education at an in-person school is heads above what you can learn online. Campus-based occupational therapy schools in Florida are setup to help you get your certificate, complete an internship or practicum, and apply for your license. You’ll attend lectures and workshops by experts, and get hands-on experiences, while learning from your fellow students as well.
Information for Occupational Therapy Schools Florida
Let’s take a look at the different options available at schools to help you clarify which school is best for you. Different learning environments work better for each person and no school is exactly like the next. By comparing these various options you’ll be able to fine tune your choice for the best occupational therapy school for your specific needs.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Location
Depending on what you’re looking for in a school, its location may be very important to you. For example, schools that are located in bigger cities may have a larger student body, and more options for housing. On the other hand, a big city campus may be inconvenient if you plan to commute to school. So, finding a campus that fits your needs – large or small – can go a long way to keeping you motivated and able to maximize your learning.
From an occupational therapy perspective, if your prospective school is located in an area where there are many options for job placement, and growth within your career, can be a huge advantage. Some occupational therapy schools in Florida even have dedicated facilities nearby, where you can volunteer or complete an internship prior to becoming licensed.
How Does the School Stack Up?
Rankings for occupational therapy schools in Florida don’t always tell the same story, but when you compare rankings between schools, you can often get a good idea about the quality of the program. Some rankings for occupational therapy schools in Florida are based on a combination of faculty rankings, student performance, and campus facilities as well as placement services.
Generally, attending a school with higher rankings offers you a quality learning experience, backed up by data and objective information. This can have an impact not only on your personal experience, but also on how others perceive the quality of your education. Obviously, for example, if you attend a prestigious school, or one with a good reputation, your job opportunities may be better than with a degree from a lower-ranked occupational therapy school in Florida.
Instructor Attention and Class Size
There is a wide range of average class size available, the range is approximately from 15 to 65. The smaller the class size, the easier it’s going to be to understand and absorb this challenging material. Occupational therapy is no something you can simply memorize; the concepts require observation and practice. Class size is one of the most important factors to consider when searching for the perfect school.
When looking at class size, you can assume that the smaller the class size is, the more competitive it will be to be accepted into that specific program. The college is limiting the number of people and thus, will choose the highest performing students for admittance to the program. Occupational therapy is a very competitive program in general, but if a small class size is a high priority for you, expect the competition to be strong.
Not every class requires a small student to teacher ratio. You can expect your general education classes such as English or general biology to have a lecture format with as many as 150 to 200 students. The important consideration are the core classes in occupational therapy; that is where class size makes an important difference. If you feel class size is the critical to your learning style and comfort, then weigh this option carefully as you begin your search for your ideal school.
Know the Admissions Process
Once you’ve narrowed down your choice of schools, then it’s time to start the application process. Of course, you have to be sure to have all the prerequisites and requirements in place before beginning. There are different requirements for each school and for the specific occupational therapy program you choose. The applications can also vary quite a bit in length. Luckily, with technology, there are a variety of options available for submitting your application. Clearly, applying to a larger number of schools will increase your chances of getting accepted.
Go to the Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) to get the latest list of accredited and developing occupational therapy schools and their websites. From there, you can review the detailed requirements for submitting an application via the website or otherwise. The schools do their best to lay out the process as clearly as possible to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. There is usually a checklist with each application that clarifies the necessary paperwork for each specific program, be sure to include everything necessary when submitting your application.
The master’s level admission process is going to be more involved and demanding than the undergraduate program. There will be minimum requirements regarding GPA, scores on testing and hours needed for volunteer and observation hours, letters of reference and more. Remember each seat in a program is competitive and there are a number of people looking to get the opportunity, take your time and get your application right with all the required paperwork in place.
The exact admissions requirements of each program will vary, but most will want you to have taken certain core courses. Additionally, some schools will want letters of recommendation, as well as an essay component.
As you research which schools you want to attend, keep track of what their requirements are to make sure you have everything in order. Most have an application fee, as well. Depending on the occupational schools in Florida that you’re considering, the application process may be relatively involved and take substantial time. So, make sure you budget enough time to improve your chances of being accepted into your preferred program.
Which Type of Program is Right for You?
There are basically two different programs offered by most occupational therapy schools in Florida. They are what’s known as pre-occupational therapy (pre-OT) tracks, along with specialized master’s degree programs. Let’s take a look at both options.
Basics of the Pre-OT Track
Many occupational therapy schools in Florida offer a pre-med like track for occupational therapy students. These programs get you on track so that you can graduate with an undergraduate degree, and a master’s in occupational therapy, all in one program. This means you will typically save a lot of time and money by not having to apply to, and pay for, a separate master’s program at another university. You can complete all of your educational requirements in one place.
Independent Master’s Degree Programs
If you already have an undergraduate degree, you probably just need a master’s degree program to complete your educational requirements for occupational therapy. Unlike the pre-OT track institutions, this type of program allows you to pick and choose from a wider variety of school that offer occupational therapy studies.
If you’re at the beginning of thinking about a career in occupational therapy, or well into your research, we hope this article provided helpful information. Fortunately, in Florida, you have more options for pursuing a rewarding career than most anywhere else. Occupational therapy schools in Florida are highly regarded, and provide quality learning experiences that are respected nationwide. As an occupational therapist, you’ll be helping people make their lives better, and easier – this rewarding career is within your reach with occupational therapy schools in Florida.