April is recognized as Occupational Therapy Month and celebrates the valuable contributions of occupational therapists (OTs) and certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) around the world. During this month, occupational therapists, OT students, and their supporters raise awareness about the importance of occupational therapy and the role it plays in improving the quality of life of those with disabilities and other conditions.
OTs and travel OTs help patients with mobility and cognitive challenges, injuries, or impairments that debilitate their ability to perform daily tasks. OTs may help with occupations such as bathing, dressing, eating, skills training, and much more. In addition to mobility rehabilitation, OTs dually focus on cognitive performance and mental health for a full mind-body treatment that is tailored to an individual’s specific needs.
Many people may not know the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy. The most basic difference is that PT focuses on improving a patient’s ability to move their body, whereas OT focuses on improving a patient’s holistic ability (mind and body) to perform activities of daily living, known as occupations. With occupational therapy demands on the rise, especially in our aging population and in rural areas that don’t have access to quality care, there’s no better time to start your travel occupational therapy career than right now!
The History of Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession that has drastically evolved over the last century. The origins of occupational therapy can be traced back to the late 1800’s, where occupational activities were developed for patients in mental institutions. These activities were designed to improve both a patient’s mental and physical health. However, it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that the profession of occupational therapy was officially recognized.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) was founded in 1917 and played a key role in the development of OT by promoting it as a form of treatment for people with disabilities. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, OT continued to evolve as a profession. During World War II, it was used to help veterans recover from physical and mental injuries, which demonstrated its effectiveness in treating a wide range of conditions. In the post-war years, the focus of occupational therapy shifted from just rehabilitation to also include preventative care, with a greater emphasis on helping people maintain their independence and quality of life.
Nowadays, occupational therapists and COTAs work in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, and community-based programs. They help individuals with physical, mental, and cognitive disabilities to lead independent lives by improving their ability to perform daily activities. Today, the demand for occupational therapy as a form of treatment, recovery, and preventative health has grown significantly.
Today’s Demand for Occupational Therapists
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment rates for OTs are projected to increase by 14% with 18,600 new jobs estimated to open in the occupational therapy field from 2021 to 2031. This field of healthcare is in high demand for a variety of reasons.
In the past several years there have been many federal changes to health insurance options and healthcare policies. These changes include more opportunities for patients to access occupational therapy as a form rehabilitation and preventative health. For example, rehabilitative services are one of the 10 essential health benefits covered by the Affordable Care Act. Other health care policies, like the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates special education services for children, which means schools may now need occupational therapists.
Lower Readmission Rates
Recently collected data shows occupational therapy has a direct role in lowering readmission rates, which helps facilities accommodate even more patients than ever before. Therefore, more OTs and travel OTs are needed to fill in where demand is highest. According to the National Library of Medicine, occupational therapy is the only hospital spending category where additional funding has a statistically significant association with lower readmission rates. OT plans are tailored to each individual patient, based on their specific condition and needs. So, professionals can determine whether they are truly ready to be discharged for safe, independent living, reducing the number of readmissions.
New Practice Settings
Since the demand for occupational therapy has increased, many OT professionals have found new opportunities to explore and incorporate new practice settings. In addition to schools and hospitals, occupational therapists can also work in physical/speech therapy offices, audiologist centers, and home health care offices to provide services to a wide range of patients. Some OTs even work with patients to help them modify their home/work environments after an accident or illness.
An aging population increases health-related issues which drives a higher demand for occupational therapy. The baby boomer generation and veterans need occupational therapy now more than ever. OT helps seniors prevent falls, provides memory rehabilitation, vision impairments, and much more. Nowadays seniors are also more interested in receiving home health occupational therapy so that they are more comfortable.
Limited healthcare options in rural communities can mean that patients aren’t as easily able to get the care they need compared to urban settings. Many of these rural areas suffer severe healthcare professional shortages, and certain services may not be available at all, leaving patients with untreated medical issues or having to travel long distances to see occupational therapists. That’s where travel occupational therapists come in!
Why Travel Occupational Therapy Should Be Your Next Move
Travel OT/COTA contracts typically offer higher pay opportunities than permanent positions. This allows you to pay off student loans, save up money for the future, and have additional spending money for all the cool adventures you’ll get to experience while on or between assignments. In addition, Marvel Medical Staffing offers referral bonuses, licensure reimbursement up to $400 per state, and CEU reimbursement up to $200 per year, as well as other great perks like 401K, and paid vacation for our travelers! Our recruiters work hard to ensure our healthcare travelers receive the absolute best pay and experience while on an assignment!
As a travel occupational therapist or a travel certified occupational therapy assistant you will be able to explore the USA from coast to coast! Maybe you take one assignment on the beach, and the next in the mountains. Do you love the great outdoors? This is your chance to explore the nation’s greatest National Parks on your days off! Or maybe you love the buzz of the city sounds and lights. There are plenty of OT/COTA travel assignments available in the big cities like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. One thing is for sure, there is no shortage of adventure when you decide to pursue a career in travel healthcare.
Build Your Resume
The best time to start your travel OT career is right after you graduate school, so you can build your credentials right away. However, it’s never too late to start if you’ve already been practicing for a while. You’ll be exposed to different experiences and settings in shorter amounts of time since different facilities will vary in terms of methods, supplies, and space used. It may even result in discovering an aspect of your field that you would never have encountered otherwise.
Adaptability will be one of the greatest skillsets you’ll develop as a traveling occupational therapist. You’ll use your school taught methods while also learning new cutting-edge practices you may only get by working in multiple places/settings. Talk about growth! Then, when you’re ready to find your forever home, your resume is so strong you can land your dream job!
Expand Your OT Network
Traveling all over the country means you’ll get to meet other travel and permanent OTs from all different settings and locations. You’ll be able to stay connected all over the country by being in the know on continuing education opportunities, staying informed on upcoming conferences and seminars, and having access to experienced clinicians that can offer you career advice. Making life long professional and personal friendships is always fun. Plus, don’t forget at Marvel Medical Staffing we offer referral bonuses when you refer your OT or COTA friends to travel with us!
Make a Difference in Rural Communities
For traveling occupational therapists, taking a position in a rural area can be a rewarding career choice. In a rural facility, you may be the only person in the area who can help a patient regain their abilities. In addition to filling a desperate need for OTs in these communities you’ll also be required to practice as a generalist. Meaning you’ll be able to practice all different methods in all different settings and grow your skills. When you accept a rural occupational therapy assignment, you may be putting yourself in a position to genuinely change someone’s life in a way that nobody around you can.
It’s YOUR Journey
With Marvel Medical Staffing you are the one in charge of your travel occupational therapy career by deciding when, where, and how long you travel! In between contracts you can take time off, visit friends or family, check off those bucket list destinations, or just recharge your batteries and catch up on your shows! Having great flexibility in your travel OT career allows for a healthy work-life balance and lessens the chance of burnout.
Get Started Today!
OT month and the history of occupational therapy is a testament to the dedication and hard work of those who have helped establish and continue to develop the profession. Today, occupational therapy continues to evolve and adapt in order to meet the changing needs of society. Its value as a form healthcare is undeniable. With occupational therapy in higher demand now more than ever, the need for travel occupational therapists is on the rise! With all the great benefits that come with being a travel occupational therapist, you have got so many reasons to start your travel healthcare career. We offer travel OT and travel COTA assignments from coast to coast. Plus, when you travel with Marvel Medical Staffing, your life-time recruiter will support you every step of the way!