Is Occupational Therapy school hard?

This blog post will answer the question “Is Occupational Therapy school hard?” and also cover topics like challenges in an occupational therapy program, what is occupational therapy, when it is used and what are its benefits.

Is Occupational Therapy school hard?

Yes. Just like any medical school, nursing school, etc. Occupational Therapy school is also hard. Occupational Therapy is a demanding and tough course. This is a rewarding field but it requires a lot of energy, dedication, empathy and multitasking  skills from the students.

First and foremost, entering an occupational therapy school is tough. There is a lot of competition involved and it requires a good amount of hard work to get into a good Occupational Therapy school. During this program, the students have to volunteer for a minimum thirty hours or even more.

There are four main sections in an occupational therapy program. They are class lectures, lab work, clinicals (fieldwork) and a research project (thesis or dissertation). The huge emphasis is on science, theory and research work. It also includes seeing actual patients in the clinical settings during the end semesters of the program.

During the beginning of the program, the difficult topics and theories are taught. Topics like neuroscience, kinesiology, etc. are explained in detail. After learning about these difficult sciences, research, lab work, practicals, many papers, assignments, exams, clinicals, and dissertation or thesis take place.

In the initial semesters, the students gain some experience by observing the patient under a professional occupational therapist and gain an insight about the treatments. This fieldwork happens in one full week every semester or just once every week per semester. 

This helps the students to get that exposure and experience of working with actual patients. They might assist a therapist during a treatment as well. It is also important to mention that not every patient is cooperative and friendly. Some adult patients might be a challenge and test the trainee’s patience a lot.

The occupational therapy program consists of three main fields:

  • Adults, 
  • Pediatrics 
  • Mental health

Students can graduate as professional occupational therapists and can decide to go in any of those three disciplines. They can also take additional training further in different therapies, accordingly. 

All the healthcare fields are challenging and hence it is important that the students are equipped with adequate knowledge and skills, so that they can carefully work in the healthcare sector.

Challenges in Occupational Therapy Program

Usually at the end of the Occupational Therapy program, the clinical portion takes place. Students have to work forty hours a week. It challenges them to put all the knowledge, skills and experience they’ve gained into action while working with the patients. The students have to attend many patients in a day and come up with a relevant treatment plan.

Some patients the students work with during their clinicals, might not be very nice at all. They might be feeling vulnerable due to their disability or another problem and could give the trainee a tough time to work with them. If they’re dealing with a child, then the parents could be troublesome and interfere with the trainee’s treatment plans.

During this clinical portion, the students also spend their time researching and designing the treatment plans and goals for their patients. It could be very hectic and leaves no time for any other work apart from the program. Students might also get homeworks from their elective courses.

During the Occupational Therapy program, a lot of the students’ time is spent in studying and doing research work. It is advisable for them to not do a job and only focus on their program. 

They can only work part time willingly during the beginning, because during the ending of the program, they will be equipped with practicals, exams, thesis, etc.

Students’ social and personal life might come to a halt as well. Being in an Occupational Therapy School does require a lot of attention and energy from the students. It is as challenging as a medical school program. It also depends on your interests, personal strengths, skills and how quick you can learn. 

Occupational Therapy school is hard but not unachievable

All occupational therapy school graduates should be mentally prepared to work in any setting and with people of any disability or problem. Just like in any other degree, in this program as well, students have to attend eight hours of classes and lab sessions during a day. There is also a lot of research work and group study involved. 

Not just in occupational therapy school programs, in some other bachelors or masters programs, all the previously mentioned tasks take place. Even in psychology programs, there is lots of field work, lab work, thesis, theories, huge assignments, presentations, projects and research involved. 

The successful completion of an occupational therapy program depends on the student’s hard work and dedication. Following are some key points in an occupational therapy program:

  • Theories – During the initial classroom lectures, the students will be taught various types of theories based on disabilities, mental health and pediatrics. Before learning practical skills, having a strong base and background of various theories is important. It might get boring initially but as the program progresses overtime and when lab work starts, it will get interesting.
  • Group work – There will also be a lot of group work in this program. Students will be put in small groups and asked to make projects, assignments, give presentations, do research work, role plays, practice with each other during lab work or even give lectures in the class.

Becoming an occupational therapist does require a lot of hard work, dedication and motivation. This is not a field for people who just want a career and a good income. Just like every career, occupational therapy programs also have its own benefits and drawbacks as well.

It could get overwhelming and challenging sometimes, but if you’re confident and trust that this is the right career option for you, then you should go ahead and consider this career. 

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy is a healthcare profession that helps a person to solve the problems that might be interfering with their capacity to do basic everyday chores. These everyday chores include, eating, getting dressed, going to school or office, having social interaction and doing other activities in their free time.

Occupational Therapists help people to remove any blockage or obstacle that could be disturbing their physical, psychological or social needs. They use certain therapies, exercises and some daily activities to help their patients overcome those barriers. It promotes good health and improves the well being of an individual.

This therapy teaches a person to adjust and carry out any type of chore at home, work or school. Common interventions in this therapy include helping children with disabilities so that they can engage completely in school activities and social circumstances. It also helps people with injury to reclaim their abilities and also provides support to elderly people who might be going through physical and mental changes.

Occupational Therapists can work in hospitals, rehabilitation and mental health centres, schools and children’s health centres alongside doctors, nurses, various health professionals and  therapists.

Occupational Therapists should have compassion, empathy and patience. They deal with many patients with different problems. Some patients might be challenging and difficult to work with. Hence, it is important that the therapist does not get angry with the patient. 

They should also be productive, hard working and creative in their work. They should have good organization and communication skills and know how to multitask because they might get cases back to back.

Who requires Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy helps people of every age who might be having any physical, sensory or psychological problems. For example, if a child is having some developmental delays or not reaching the developmental milestones, then an Occupational Therapist can help the child in developing those skills.  

It is required for people with:

  • Learning problems
  • Autism
  • Birth injuries
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Mental health or behavioral issues
  • Brain injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy

Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists design a treatment plan and set goals according to their patient’s disability and requirements. They teach their patients to perform tasks in new ways, improve their fine motor skills and modify their movements. Following are some more benefits of Occupational Therapy:

  • Helps the adults to adjust to their speech or memory problems
  • Can improve visual skills by teaching visual adaptive methods
  • Helps the senior adults to prevent falling in their homes or public places
  • OT exercises helps in building strength and reduces pain
  • Helps in behavioral problems in children who hit others or doesn’t behave properly
  • Boosts children’s self esteem by improving their school performance 
  • Teaches patients new ways to tie their shoes, button their shirts, etc.
  • Helps in organizing home tools or medicines
  • Occupational therapists give excellent caregiver training
  • Helps in building hand eye cooperation to focus
  • Last but not the least, makes the client independent so that they don’t have to rely on others for their chores.


This blog post answered the question “Is Occupational Therapy school hard?” We came to know that yes, it is hard. Working with patients in the healthcare sector is not always an easy task and while undergoing these programs in school/colleges, it can become quite challenging and overwhelming. Students with an interest in the science or healthcare field can choose and go ahead with this program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Is Occupational Therapy School hard?

Is Occupational Therapy an easy degree?

No. Occupational Therapy is not the easiest degree. It is an intense and difficult course, just like any science based degree is. Students have to attend eight hours of classroom lectures along with lab work. They also have a lot of homework and study for their exams, assignments, presentations, practicals and work with patients during their last semesters.

Is Occupational Therapy a bad career?

Occupational Therapy is not a bad career. It can be a good career choice for people who want to work in the healthcare sector and help people by improving their quality of life. This is a unique career option as it gives the therapist freedom to choose where they want to work. They can also have an adjustable schedule and decent salary. You may have to face certain drawbacks and complicated cases, but you’re trying to make a difference in a person’s life. This is a rewarding sector.

What is the duration of becoming an occupational therapist?

It can take around six to seven years to become an occupational therapist. You need to have an undergraduate degree and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree and sit for your licensure exam.

Is Occupational Therapy a stressful job?

Yes, occupational therapy can be a stressful job. This is a healthcare field where you have to attend many patients on a daily basis. From planning out a treatment plan to working with the patient and doing paperwork, being productive, etc. it can be quite hectic. Sometimes, even the patients can be difficult to deal with and it could be challenging at times. 

How many hours does an Occupational Therapist work a day?

Occupational Therapist works forty hours in a week. They might work from 9 am to 5 pm everyday. They can also work part time and can be called whenever they’re required. Depending on the location they’re working, they might work over time as well.


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