While the two therapy positions are closely related in that they focus on patient improvement, they are really quite different in function. A physical therapist focuses the exercises to work certain muscle groups with hopes of strengthening that particular area. An occupational therapist will focus primarily on helping the patients improve their ability to function in an everyday lifestyle.
When a patient is involved in an accident or is undergoing surgery, the experience is not only physically damaging; it can also be mentally traumatizing. This is why both therapists are needed.
These two types of therapists are also similar in their education requirements. In order for an individual to become a physical or occupational therapist he or she must have a master’s degree or higher in the field. Additionally, licensing is required, along with on-the-job experience.
Occupational therapy jobs in hospitals or even in private offices are in high demand. Accidents occur or surgery is necessary. This will not change anytime soon.
Utilizing a wide variety of tools and/or equipment, occupational therapists focus their skills helping patients of all ages and needs to redevelop basic motor skills.
An underdeveloped child may require special attention in learning some basic skills to improve everyday functions. A patient that was in a coma would require assistance in coming back into reality with attempts at improving the current state.
Therapists manage the therapy by keeping a close record of what exercises have been done, to what degree, the day the exercises were performed, and any improvements made. Sharing the positive results with the patient will encourage him or her further.
Physical therapy utilizes similar management techniques to track patient improvement and areas that could use a little more work. Such information is vital for doctors and nurses to have for continued care of the patient.
Program Therapy Manager
The education requirements for program therapy manager jobs are not as strict as those for the occupational and physical therapists. A program therapy manager is only required to have a bachelor’s degree.
The main responsibility for a program therapy manager is to coordinate the work of activities for a specific patient selected by the physical or occupational therapist. Typically, he or she will be under general supervision. Following the rules and guidelines of the hospital or therapist’s office, the program therapy manager will ensure that the exercises are completed within reason of the patient’s ability. While therapy may be somewhat painful and/or difficult for the patient, it is up to the program therapy manager to decide if the patient should be pushed further.
A program therapy manager:
- Organizes activities for patients to be carried out by hospital employees. The employees report back directly to the manager and follow all set priorities.
- Conducts employee evaluations based on the work performance and techniques carried out with the patient.
- Recognizes areas in which the staff needs additional training and ensures the proper training is completed.
- Prepares and maintains proper records and reports as required within office or hospital guidelines.
- Directs the activities of patients while in the facility’s care.
- Ensures employees have a full understanding of assignments and work methods.
- Synchronizes the program activities with other areas of the facility.
- Performs specific quality reviews for assigned programs.
- Concludes and studies patient activity goals in relation to original goals.
- Keeps proper notes and records of the patient’s continued progress in order to compare with therapists’ notes.
- Maintains a viewable program plan for appropriate approval.
- Trains all of the resident care staff, therapy assistants, students, and interns properly within the guidelines of the facility.
- Conducts other related job functions as needed by the facility.
The common setting for these three professions—occupational therapists, physical therapists, and program therapy managers—is typically within a hospital or private office. Physical therapy job listings are moving beyond this now. Due to the growing need in different locations, companies are now offering these professionals the opportunity to travel to different cities and work in a variety of settings.
The opportunity to have a hand in the improvement of a person’s life and well-being can be a rewarding step.