4 Reasons Why OTs Excel as Healthcare Writers

Mar 30, 2020
5 min read
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Occupational therapists (OTs) are commonly known as experts in self-care, task analysis, and functional performance. Part of our job as therapists is to retrain patients on how to care for themselves after an injury or illness including bathing, grooming, feeding, toileting, and dressing.

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We may also assume habilitative roles, meaning we teach people these foundational skills to assist in independent living. Task analysis allows OTs to determine where our patients’ difficulties are and how to address each of them. By addressing each of these deficits, OTs improve a patient's ability to function in whatever tasks are meaningful to them.

“You may be wondering -- Okay, so how does any of this make an occupational therapist good at writing about health and wellness?”

While not every occupational therapist has a penchant for writing, there are many aspects of our skillset, education, and training that have prepared us to use written communication to assist others.

1. We are trained in the workings of the human body

If you have completed any portion of occupational therapy school, you will understand that the coursework has a heavy focus on medical concepts. This means that we have learned quite a bit about the human body, from bodily structures (anatomy) to specifics about how it works (physiology) to techniques that assist in strengthening joints and muscles (physical rehabilitation). All of this knowledge is then applied to every task an OT completes, from providing patients with tips to prevent musculoskeletal injuries to helping individuals conserve energy.

This type of background gives OTs a great foundation to teach others about the inner and outer workings of their bodies and promote education about one’s health. OTs are knowledgeable enough to write about topics such as strengthening exercises, endurance training, surgical rehabilitation protocols, movement patterns, and diseases that affect the physical structures of the body.

2. We have experience in academic writing

OTs who have received a Master's degree (or doctorate) in occupational therapy have completed a Capstone project. Regardless of the population or subject matter, therapists who presented this type of project were required to compile data, analyze trends, organize numbers, and write extensive amounts of content to put everything together. This means that therapists were asked to wear their analytical hat to make this and many other projects impactful, reliable, and outstanding.

OTs are easily able to pull from this academic writing to craft technical articles that require the use of credible research, accurate statistics and facts, and reference to peer-reviewed scientific studies. This type of work also makes therapists adept at reading complex and detailed research and breaking the information down into simpler and more comprehensible terms that the general population, including patients, are able to understand.

3. We also know a lot about the brain

Personally, one of the most exciting and appealing features of occupational therapy is our focus on the brain, how it impacts all that we do, and how to employ certain strategies to change the way it works. Many people are not only surprised to hear that OTs are able to work in mental health, but people often do not understand the large impact that OTs have already had in this practice area. Our roots as occupational therapists run deep in mental health practice and, as such, this should shine through in all the work we do. I am a firm believer that occupational therapists working in any practice setting should always address a person’s mental health. From brain dysfunction to the typical emotions associated with disability or injury, mental health has the potential to severely impair the way that someone behaves and functions.

“OTs are unique professionals in that we are well-equipped to understand how the mind and body interact and simultaneously enhance this connection in all of our patients.”

OTs who have never worked in psychiatric settings arguably have a better understanding of how the brain functions than many other healthcare providers. This gives OTs a holistic view and allows us to be able to write on any topic related to mental health, ranging from how to deal with anxiety, the best treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), how to manage depression while still living your life, and many more.

4. Research is a typical part of an OT’s job

Whether you realize it or not, OTs are quite good at research. A well-known term in the healthcare world is evidence-based practice. This means that all the work a healthcare professional does must be backed up by studies and other forms of research. Whether it is a new surgery, a disease they have never heard of, or an up-and-coming treatment, OTs use research as an integral way to stay current in their knowledge. Any experienced writer knows that research skills are not only life-saving, but a major factor in succeeding at their job.

This is also the case for occupational therapists, who not only have the ability to research any topic that will improve their knowledge, but also need to consistently complete research to improve the care they provide their patients with. An occupational therapist should also know what situations are outside of their scope of practice. For example, we will not always be able to fully treat each patient that comes to us for help. In some cases, patients will require intervention from a speech therapist, physical therapist, or a surgeon, and we must be able to identify when a patient needs a referral to another professional. These skills are the type of in-depth knowledge that makes occupational therapists skilled at easily crafting content for a variety of audiences.

Conclusion

Occupational therapists are truly unique professionals who can make a significant impact in the lives of others. However, our roles hardly stop there. Our training and the skills we bring to the table make us excellent candidates to assume roles as writers, health educators, professors, and more. Each day, we gain additional skills that hone our writing abilities and further improve our ability to effectively communicate about health, wellness, and a variety of other medical topics.

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About Brittany Ferri, OTR/L, CPRP

I'm a mental health OT, health writer, teletherapist, clinical consultant, and textbook author. I love plants and hiking. :) Reach out to me for mentorship or to learn more about non-clinical OT! Also, check out my website simplicityofhealth.com !


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