What is Occupational Therapy?
The main goal of occupational therapy is to enable people to participate in meaningful activities of everyday living, for example, self-care, work and leisure activities. By enabling people to engage in activities that hold meaning for them, occupational therapists aim to enable people to improve their day-to-day quality of life.
Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including community, hospitals, rehabilitation units, schools, universities, clinics, long-term care facilities and reform centres. Examples of what occupational therapists do include:
Adapting the home of an elderly person to make it easier and safer for him/her to use.
Working with people who have mental health problems to improve their abilities in everyday activities.
Using play activities to improve the play and movement skills of children with cerebral palsy.
Running life-skills programmes that enable people with intellectual disabilities to develop skills such as budgeting so that they can live more independently in the community.
Advising community groups about ways to promote health and maintain activity in their lives.
Enabling people to select and effectively use equipment and appliances, including wheelchairs, dressing aids, computers and other assistive technology, to increase their independence.
Assessing the ability of someone with acquired brain injury to return to work and then modify that person’s work (the job itself and the workplace) to enable this, where possible, to happen.
Assessing the ICT needs of people with neurodegenerative disease.
Supporting people with terminal illness to maintain quality of life during end-of-life care.
Occupational therapy interventions consider:
The individual person – improving or maintaining their level of physical, cognitive (thinking), affective (emotional) and social ability.
The occupation – examining the self-care, leisure and work-related activities that people value in their daily lives and making changes to these activities so that they better meet the individual’s abilities.
The environment – manipulating or adapting the physical environment so that it does not impede but, if possible, enhances performance; and influencing the social, cultural and institutional environment in ways that enable people to live as independent a life as possible and reach their full potential.
Occupational Therapy: The course for you?
This is the right course for you if you are a creative thinker who is open to finding solutions to a multitude of problems and if working with people with diverse abilities is something you enjoy and find stimulating. Visiting an occupational therapy department will give you more understanding of what is involved in this profession.
Occupational Therapy @ Trinity
The course is the longest established university-based occupational therapy course in Ireland. It uses many innovative teaching methodologies, including peer education, problem-based learning, as well as more traditional methods. Students and staff collaborate on projects that involve both research and service delivery, in new areas of practice.
Occupational Therapy is based in the Trinity Centre for Health Sciences in a purpose-built complex in the grounds of St. James’s Hospital. There are state of the art teaching facilities at the Discipline of Occupational Therapy, including a capacity for tele-conferencing. The Trinity Centre houses other health sciences disciplines including Medicine, Physiotherapy, Therapeutic Radiography and Nursing. This gives a multidisciplinary dimension to studying and working with other health professionals. The centre is approximately 3 kilometres from the main campus, beside the Luas line running between Tallaght and the city centre. Some courses on the programme (e.g. anatomy) take place on the main campus which exposes students to the wider facilities and amenities of Trinity College.
Graduate skills and career opportunities
As a qualified occupational therapist from Trinity, you will be well equipped to pursue a very rewarding career working with people of all age groups in a wide range of service settings. The course is approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (www.wfot.org.au), so when you complete your degree, you are qualified to work as an occupational therapist in Ireland, as well as abroad. Many graduates from the programme are working in all parts of the world. Most occupational therapists, over time, develop specialised expertise in areas such as physical rehabilitation, neuro-cognitive rehabilitation, mental health, hand therapy, intellectual disability, palliative care, paediatrics, services for the elderly and primary care. Practice areas are expanding, particularly in school settings and in primary care community practice areas. Other examples include work in private practice, work with people who are homeless, and running healthy living and stress management clinics. A number of occupational therapists move into management – managing occupational therapy departments or other health/social care related services. Additionally, the course offers many opportunities for further postgraduate study.
Your degree and what you’ll study
This four-year degree course incorporates a practical approach to solving problems and fosters a research-oriented and reflective attitude. It embraces evidence-based practice.
FIRST AND SECOND (FRESHMAN) YEARS
The courses studied in the first and second years include the study of occupation, occupational therapy theories and interventions with people from children to older adults, anatomy, physiology, psychology, disability studies, research methods and statistics. You will be encouraged to ‘learn by doing’ in subjects related to personal development such as communications and creative problem solving and in courses that teach the professional and technical skills of practice such as assistive technology. You will be required to engage in service learning through voluntary work and will use experiential learning and group work to develop knowledge and skills in an activity of your choice. During the first two years, there are a total of 11 weeks in supervised professional practice in a variety of health and community care facilities around the country. Assessment includes written examinations, essays, project work, presentations, and competency-based assessment while on supervised practice education.
THIRD AND FOURTH (SOPHISTER) YEARS
During the Sophister years you will further develop your knowledge of the theories, principles and practice of occupational therapy; gain an understanding of health/social care systems and policies and of the importance of practising in an evidenced-based manner. Service learning is continued and incorporates a peer education methodology. Additionally, you will complete a group research project. You will have opportunities to develop important self-directed learning and research skills, which are key areas for practice. Over the course of these two years, you will spend a total of 22 weeks in supervised professional practice. Assessment includes written examinations, essays, project work, presentations, a research project, and competency based assessment while on supervised practice education.
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