If you’re a healthcare professional who is interested in pursuing an allied health career, you’ll want to learn more about rehab and therapy. This field allows healthcare professionals to help their patients recover from accidents, regain strength, have a better quality of life, and so much more. Within allied health, there are several disciplines in the field of rehab and therapy that a healthcare professional can practice. For those who are unfamiliar with allied health, read our blog What is Allied Health. This blog will go into depth about rehab and therapy, as well as further discuss each of the disciplines in the field.
Rehab and therapy
Rehab and therapy are an essential part of the healthcare system for many reasons. For instance, rehab promotes health and treatment, it enables people to function on an individual level, it prevents disease, and much more (World Health Organization, 2023). Therapy is also essential to the healthcare system because it serves as an alternative to being medicated or having to undergo surgery (U.S.News, n.d.). This is especially beneficial for patients because they not only save money by foregoing surgery, but they also save time with recovery.
Speech language pathologist or speech language therapist
Often used interchangeably, a speech language pathologist or speech language therapist specializes in treating patients with communication, swallowing, language, and speech problems (Baylor University, 2022). Common speech disorders that these healthcare professionals assist patients with consist of stuttering, voice disorders, dysarthria, apraxia, and others (Baylor University, 2022).
If you’re interested in starting a career in speech language pathology, there are a few educational requirements that are important for you to complete. First, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in a field related to speech language pathology. Next, you’ll need to acquire a master’s degree in speech language pathology. Finally, you’ll have to complete a clinical fellowship and pass the Praxis Exam, however, if you intend on starting a private practice, you’ll need a state license and a certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Associate (Kowarski, 2021).
Common skills that will be necessary for this profession include strong communication, active listening, attention to detail, compassion, empathy, critical thinking, and analytical skills.
Speech language pathologists or speech language therapists often work in hospitals, schools, private practices, nursing homes, or residential care facilities (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023).
Certified physical therapy assistant
Physical therapy assistants (PTA’s) work under the supervision of physical therapists, often helping them treat patients by supplying patients with training exercises and other therapeutic approaches to help relieve symptoms. Physical therapy assistants are also responsible for monitoring patients’ progress and communicating results to the physical therapist (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023).
To become a physical therapist assistant, you’ll need to graduate with an associate’s degree from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). Once you’ve graduated, you’ll need to obtain a license by passing the National Physical Therapy Exam and partake in continued education to keep that license over the years (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023).
To be a successful PTA, certain skills are required. Physical therapy assistants must be interpersonal, compassionate, communicative, focused, and have good physical stamina.
Typically, a physical therapy assistant will work in hospitals, rehab centers, nursing homes, physicians’ offices, or even provide in-home care to patients directly (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). While this might not seem like as many options as other healthcare professionals in rehab and therapy, there are still several different locations they get to choose from regarding a work environment.
The work of a physical therapist is important for a number of reasons. Physical therapists are able to help injured or unwell patients increase body movement, manage pain, and monitor the progress of their recovery after they have experienced an event that impacted their physical capabilities (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). Physical therapists help their patients reach and maintain better life quality by keeping them active and preventing future health problems (American Physical Therapy Association, n.d.).
Similar to a speech language pathologist, to become a physical therapist you will first need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Once this is completed, there are two options that are available. According to an article titled, “Physical Therapist” the reading mentions, “Specifically, you’ll need to either complete a bachelor's degree and then a doctoral program in physical therapy, or you might choose a 3+3 physical therapy program that combines the degrees into a total of six years of higher education,” (Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, n.d.). After this step is completed, many of these healthcare professionals find that enrolling in a residency program is beneficial because of the progressed training and ability to further specialize in a certain area within the field (Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, n.d.).
Necessary skills that are required for this line of work consist of being open-minded, resilient, observational, good at multitasking, a solid communicator, and confident (Picmonic, 2023). While these skills are necessary for many professions, they are especially necessary for physical therapists who need to be able to accurately treat and diagnose patients.
Physical therapists are able to work in a multitude of locations, such as hospitals, schools, sports facilities, workplaces, nursing homes, patient’s homes, and outpatient clinics (American Physical Therapy Association, n.d.). This is beneficial because it allows physical therapists to mix up their routine if they decide.
Certified occupational therapy assistant
Occupational therapy assistants work alongside occupational therapists to assist with patients’ recovery or development of skills that are needed for everyday activities (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). These activities could consist of brushing their teeth, using utensils, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, and more.
To work as an occupational therapy assistant, an associate’s degree from an accredited program for occupation therapy is needed. Further, this program needs to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Like a physical therapy assistant, an occupational therapy assistant needs to be licensed by the state. To acquire a license, these healthcare professionals need to pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam, as well as complete their required field work (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023). Continued education is also required for occupational therapy assistants to keep their licenses.
Common skills that are required for this position include physical strength, attention to detail, adaptability, and empathy.
Typically, an occupational therapy assistant will work in hospitals, nursing homes, physicians’ offices, or they can also provide home health services (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023).
Occupational therapists help patients who have mental, physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities that cannot complete daily tasks on their own (Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, n.d.). These healthcare professionals provide treatment plans that are geared toward ensuring their patients will be able to successfully live independently (Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, n.d.).
To become an occupational therapist, you first have to complete a bachelor’s degree in a related field, and then earn your master’s degree in occupational therapy. Upon completion of a master’s degree, the next step is to become a licensed occupational therapist. To become licensed, you must pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) (Elmhurst University, 2019). Even though getting your master’s degree may sound intimidating, most people can obtain it in two to three years.
While there are many skills OTs need that don’t involve physical requirements, there are also some that do. Because occupational therapists often have to transport and lift patients many times throughout their day, physical strength is required for this role. Aside from the physical requirements, it is necessary that OTs are skilled in problem-solving, practicing patience, effective communication, organization, and empathy (St. Catherine University, 2022).
Similar to physical therapists, occupational therapists are also able to work in a number of settings. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, home health agencies, rehabilitation hospitals, offices, and clinics are all options that are available for OTs to work at when performing their role (Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, n.d.). Having various options for a workplace can be beneficial to mix things up when your routine becomes too rigid.
As demand increases for roles in rehab and therapy, there needs to be more allied health professionals entering these fields. Working within the field of rehab and therapy is different every day, not to mention the job is very rewarding. By entering this field, you can help people reclaim their independence, regain strength and confidence, and live a normal life. We hope you learned more about rehab and therapy, and maybe even sparked an interest in the field. Click here to view and apply for allied health jobs in rehab and therapy with Favorite!