BS in Occupational Therapy in the Philippines

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Program Overview

Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy (BSOT) is a five year degree program that provides students with knowledge and skills needed to help patients who have physical, mental, or emotional health problems. The goal of the program is to equip students with the necessary skills to be able to prepare and re-establish their patient’s life, enabling the patients to be functionally independent and able as possible in the performance of their engagements in areas such as: activities of daily living, work, leisure, play, and education; to rebuild his/her health, independence, and self-esteem.

The BSOT program educates students in the medical, social behavioral, psychological, psychosocial and occupational sciences to enable them to determine which aspects to focus on, whether it is the occupation, the environment, or some combination of these, in order to enhance occupational participation among their patients.

Subjects and Curriculum

The subjects in the BSOT curriculum are divided into three main categories:
  • General Education Courses
    • Language and Humanities: English, Filipino, Philosophy, Logic, Literature
    • Mathematics, Natural Science and Information Technology: Mathematics, Basic Statistics, Chemistry, Physics, Computer
    • Social Sciences: General Psychology, General Anthropology/Sociology, Health Economics
    • Biological Sciences: General Biology, Zoology
    • Mandated Subjects: Rizal Life Works and Writings, Philippine History and Constitution

  • Core Courses
    • Healthcare
    • Ethics in Occupational Therapy
    • Basic Sciences: Anatomy and Physiology, Gross and Organ System Anatomy, Kinesiology, Physiology, Neuroanatomy
    • Medical Foundation: General Medical Conditions, General Surgical Conditions, Neurology, Pathology
    • Occupational Therapy (CBR)
    • Research: Research 1 (Introduction to Research and Research Proposal), Research 2 (Research Presentation and Implementation)

  • Professional Courses
    • Occupational Therapy Foundations: Introduction to Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation, Theoretical Foundations in Occupational Therapy, Evaluation for Physical Dysfunction, Evaluation for Psychosocial Dysfunction, Management of Physical Dysfunction, Management of Psychosocial Dysfunction, Introduction to Clinics, Human Behavior in Occupational Therapy, Therapeutic Skills in Human Development, Orthotics and Prosthetics, Psychiatric Foundations in Occupational Therapy
    • Clinical Training: Clinical Training 1 and 2

The first three years of the program are conducted through various classroom learning activities, small group discussions, laboratory and field work. The last two years of program are focused on professional courses considered essential to the practice of Occupational Therapy. The Clinical Internship Program is done in the fifth and final year, as well as the completion of a research project.

Is Occupational Therapy a profession?

Occupational Therapy is a profession.

A graduate of BSOT who passes the Occupational Therapist Licensure Examination is called a Registered Physical Therapist or Occupational Therapist Registered, Philippines (OTRP).

The responsibilities of an Occupational Therapist include:
  • Test and evaluate patients' physical and mental abilities and analyze medical data to determine realistic rehabilitation goals for patients.
  • Select activities that will help individuals learn work and life-management skills within limits of their mental and physical capabilities.
  • Plan, organize, and conduct occupational therapy programs in hospital, institutional, or community settings to help rehabilitate those impaired because of illness, injury or psychological or developmental problems.
  • Recommend changes in patients' work or living environments, consistent with their needs and capabilities.
  • Consult with rehabilitation team to select activity programs and coordinate occupational therapy with other therapeutic activities.
  • Help clients improve decision making, abstract reasoning, memory, sequencing, coordination and perceptual skills, using computer programs.
  • Develop and participate in health promotion programs, group activities, or discussions to promote client health, facilitate social adjustment, alleviate stress, and prevent physical or mental disability.
  • Design and create, or requisition, special supplies and equipment, such as splints, braces and computer-aided adaptive equipment.
  • Plan and implement programs and social activities to help patients learn work and school skills and adjust to handicaps.
  • Evaluate patients' progress and prepare reports that detail progress.
  • Advise on health risks in the workplace and on health-related transition to retirement.
  • Provide patients with assistance in locating and holding jobs.

What are the admission requirements for the BS in Occupational Therapy program?

Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
  • Must be a high school graduate.
    Those who did not complete high school education may opt to first attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) and pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) to qualify for college. However, some universities only offer selected courses for PEPT passers
  • College entrance exam: must pass the College entrance examination with a specified rating set by the school.
  • Physical, Psychosocial and Social Adjustment Examinations: must pass the stated examinations conducted by the school to determine his/her suitability for the profession.
  • Interview: must pass the interview conducted by the college dean/faculty.

(See source)

What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?

  • Patient Care Skills – the ability to understand and take care of patients from all ages and walks of life; involves empathy, compassion and the sincere desire to help the sick.
  • Observation skills – ability to demonstrate skills in observation. In particular, a student must be able to accurately observe a patient and acquire visual, auditory and tactile information.
  • Excellent people skills – in your clinical practicum you will be providing care for agitated patients with different backgrounds. You should be able to put people at their ease, gain their confidence and deal sympathetically with their problems and fears.
  • Scientifically inclined – has wide knowledge about science and is able to understand and connect certain concepts together; very essential because BSOT is a science based program.
  • Critical thinking – the ability to collect and integrate data about patients, read and comprehend patient information to create treatment plans that are effective and safe
  • Analytical skills – the ability to understand complex medical situations, create connections among different clinical manifestations and make sensible decisions to implement plan of care
  • Communication skills – ability to speak, hear and observe patients and coherently summarize a patient's condition and management plan, verbally and in writing; ability to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients, families, employees and other health-care practitioners
  • Clinical efficiency – the ability to use medical instruments and supportive devices in the care of patients

How difficult is BS in Occupational Therapy?

BS in Occupational Therapy is a fairly difficult course. Its curriculum contains both easy and difficult subjects. Unlike BS in Physical Therapy, BSOT core subjects are easier to understand. However, its curriculum is comprehensive and contains a variety of science subjects which are technical and difficult to understand.

Although the Clinical Internship is usually a fun and enjoyable experience, students say that it can also be draining and tedious at times. The number of hours intended for the BSOT clinical internship is longer than most other programs. There are also many requirements that you need to submit on a daily basis when you participate in the internship, such as case analysis, patient care plans and activity plans.

The fact that this program lasts five years instead of the typical four years, also adds to the difficulty level.

How long does it take to complete the BSOT program in the Philippines?

The BSOT program takes five years to complete (Note: this may change due to the K-12 integration). The program may be completed in a shorter time in schools that follow the trimestral curriculum.

Clinical Internship

The fifth year of the BSOT program is spent doing a clinical internship in hospitals, free-standing Rehabilitation Centers or clinics, nursing homes, mental health institutions, home health agency services and community home health-settings.

The internship program involves assigning students to different affiliate centers. It follows a clinical rotation which means that a student will be assigned in different affiliate centers in specific timeframes. During the internship, students are able to help patients experiencing physical, emotional and mental health problems. Together with their supervising Occupational Therapist students will be able to help in the planning and the implementation of care.

The internship is done under the guidance of a Registered Occupational Therapist employed in the affiliation center, and a faculty member.

The required number of hours is 1,200.

(See source)

Occupational Therapist Licensure Examination

To become a Registered Occupational Therapist in the Philippines, a graduate of BS in Occupational Therapy needs to pass the Occupational Therapist Licensure Examination. The examination is conducted by the Board of Examiners for Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists under the supervision of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC). The exam is conducted twice a year.

In order to pass the examination, a candidate must obtain a weighted average of at least 75% with no rating below 60% in any subject.

(See sources 1, 2)

Career Opportunities for BS in Occupational Therapy graduates

  • Jobs for Registered Occupational Therapists (board exam passers)

    • Occupational therapists, in the following areas:

      • Aged care – providing programs and equipment for people with medical and social problems associated with aging.
      • Disabilities – working with people who have an intellectual, physical or sensory disability through planned activity programs over long periods of time.
      • General medicine – working in hospitals or private practice to assess and treat individuals with physically disabling diseases or injuries.
      • Occupational health – assessing the safety of work environments and injured workers, providing rehabilitation and advice about adaptations for their return to the workplace.
      • Health promotion – assisting people who want to achieve a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
      • Pediatrics – working in hospitals, private practices or schools to assess and treat children with disabilities, developmental delays or learning difficulties.
      • Psychiatry – assessing and treating individuals with mental illness and behavioral disorders through programs involving such things as stress management.
      • Vocational rehabilitation – assisting injured workers to return to work.
    • Related jobs:

      • Clinical Administrator – oversees the daily operations of a medical clinic. She is in charge of patient relations, personnel administration and the facility's fiscal management. The staff relies on her for guidance and expects her to run the clinic professionally and profitably.
      • Functional Family Therapist – performs family-based therapeutic intervention, improve family communication and supportiveness decreasing intense negativity and dysfunctional patterns of behavior. Parenting skills, youth compliance, and the complete range of behaviors (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral) domains are targeted for change based on the specific risk and protective factor profile of each family.
      • Recreational Therapists – plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses.
      • Speech-Language Pathologists – (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients.
      • Disability Services Instructor – assess training needs, conduct training programs and organize employment or recreation and leisure activities for people with intellectual, physical, sensory, social or emotional disabilities.
      • Diversional Therapist – work with people of all ages and abilities to plan and facilitate leisure programs that enhance the emotional, social and physical well-being of the individuals.
      • Rehabilitation Counsellor – counsel individuals to maximize the independence and employability of persons coping with personal, social, and vocational difficulties that result from birth defects, illness, disease, accidents, or the stress of daily life.
  • Jobs for Non Board Passers:

    • Occupational Therapist Assistant – work under the direction of a therapist and help devise and carry out a therapy plan; prepares treatment equipment, fills out insurance forms and paperwork and handles scheduling.
    • Clinical Researcher – responsible for creating, implementing, and maintaining clinical trials. Writes protocols, case report forms, and consent forms. Recruits and selects investigators and ensures good clinical practices are followed.
    • Occupational Health and Safety Officer – coordinate health and safety systems in an organization. They identify hazards, assess risks to health and safety, put appropriate safety controls in place and provide advice about accident prevention and occupational health to management and employees.
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