Are you someone who has a deep love for people? Does helping someone recover from an injury or a medical condition sound right for you? Rehabilitation sciences could be the perfect field for you.
What is rehabilitation science?
Rehabilitation science is an interdisciplinary field that studies and applies principles to enhance the quality of life, functional abilities, and independence of individuals with disabilities or those recovering from injury, illness, or surgery. It encompasses many disciplines, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, kinesiology, psychology, and more.
Rehabilitation professionals have a vital role in mitigating the effects of a health condition on an individual’s daily life. They work to maximize functioning and minimize the impact of disability. The scope of rehabilitation extends beyond preventive and curative care, aiming to enable those with health conditions to maintain independence and engage in education, employment, and meaningful life roles. Rehabilitation can be relevant to anyone during their lifetime, whether due to injury, illness, disease, or age-related decline in functioning.
Why are rehabilitation professionals important?
The biggest reason rehabilitation professionals are crucial is that they provide services that allow people to return to regular life functions. This includes the person’s physical, emotional, psychological, and economic functions. What is often overlooked in the medical field is what happens after someone is released from the hospital or treatment. Rehabilitation professionals are there every step of the way after an initial accident or treatment. Rehabilitation professionals want to get clients back to their regular everyday activities and ensure their procedures/ practices have long-term effects rather than short-term benefits.
What are some pros and cons of being a rehabilitation professional?
While a career in rehabilitation sciences can be highly fulfilling, it can also be exhausting. Here are some pros and cons of becoming a rehabilitation professional.
- Rewarding work: People go into this field primarily to help clients overcome challenges and improve their quality of life.
- Diverse Opportunities: Rehabilitation includes various disciplines such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and more.
- Variety: Every client will have a different condition, story, and reason they are there. Professionals get the opportunity to work in several different settings.
- Work-life balance: The ability to have a schedule that accommodates an individual’s lifestyle is a top priority for many people. Rehabilitation professionals have the opportunity for a flexible work schedule.
- Physical Demand: Working in this field will take a physical toll on the body. Standing most of the day, heavy lifting, and coming home sore can be exhausting.
- Challenging Patients: Everything is about the client, but occasionally, you will encounter patients who are challenging to work with. The job is not always easy, and there will be patients who will resist the help you are trying to give them. Sometimes, it will be uncomfortable, and issues could become complex.
- Paperwork on Top of Paperwork: For every patient you work with, there will be piles of documentation to fill out.
- Exposure to Germs: When working with people, sickness is always possible. Especially when working with patients because you might treat people with a contagious disease.
Working in this field is extremely rewarding, but it does have its demands.
What are rehabilitation sciences jobs?
There are numerous jobs to get within rehab sciences; here are a few:
- Case Manager: Coordinates treatments for clients and helps them understand what they need specifically for their condition.
- Occupational therapist: Assists patients recovering from injuries or disabilities to develop everyday skills.
- Physical Therapist: Helps patients lessen the pain caused by an illness, injury, or disability.
- Rehabilitation Director: Responsible for all of the operations at a rehab facility.
- Design engineer: Creates products for people with disabilities, such as prosthetics, to assist with daily household activities.
- Clinical research coordinator: Does medical studies, runs clinical trials, and collects data obtained from research.
You can find opportunities in diverse sectors depending on your interests and additional skills. However, many career opportunities in rehabilitation sciences require additional education. Let’s look at two career opportunities Concordia offers to further your career.
All About Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists use functions of everyday life to promote health and allow patients to participate in life activities. These activities include getting ready in the morning, cooking, going to school, working, running errands, etc.
An occupational therapist differs from other healthcare professionals. Occupational therapy focuses on the entire person rather than one specific thing. When a patient goes home from the hospital after surgery or an injury, a nurse might help with the pain or explain how to take care of dressing changes. An occupational therapist will tailor their recommendations to each client specifically. Based on each person’s lifestyle and situation, occupational therapists assist patients with their own needs.
Here are some key responsibilities and skills of an occupational therapist:
- Evaluating the patient: Each patient is assessed for their specific condition and needs.
- Develop a plan: Once the patient is evaluated, a treatment plan can be created based on the patient’s specific lifestyle.
- Documentation: Throughout the process, documentation is always being filled out.
- Communication: Occupational therapists must communicate effectively with their patients to understand their needs.
- Problem-solving: Every patient will be different; flexibility and exploring other options is essential.
How to become an occupational therapist
Similar to other healthcare professions, occupational therapy requires extensive education and training. Occupational therapists enter the workforce with a master’s degree or an entry-level doctorate degree in occupational therapy.
- Do research and gain experience: No matter what profession someone goes into, it is always important to research the occupation. Before entering the medical field, having some experience is helpful.
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree: Start by earning a bachelor’s degree in pre-occupational therapy or a degree in a health or science field.
- Earn an advanced degree: To work as an occupational therapist, at least a master’s degree is required. A doctorate is also common for many occupational therapists.
- Obtain state licensure: To practice as a professional occupational therapist, you must obtain a license from your state’s licensing board. Licensure requirements vary by state but will all require passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.
Remember that the specific steps and requirements can vary based on your location. It’s important to research the requirements in your state to ensure you’re on the right path toward becoming a licensed occupational therapist.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapists earn a median salary of $85,570.
All About Physical Therapists
Physical therapy is all about preventing injury and recovering. Physical therapists find cost-effective ways to improve mobility. Their treatments help relieve pain and reduce the need for surgery and other prescription drugs. Every treatment and recovery plan is designed for each patient’s individual needs.
A physical therapist can work in various settings. Examples include hospitals, private practices, schools, and fitness facilities. These locations need physical therapists to help people develop healthier physical lifestyles.
Here are some key responsibilities and skills of a physical therapist:
- Examination of the patient: Every physical therapist must evaluate patients’ medical history, review medications, and perform tests to ensure they treat each patient accurately.
- Make a diagnosis: A physical therapist must develop a diagnosis once the evaluations are complete.
- Treat a variety of different conditions: There are several types of conditions physical therapists will work with; some include arthritis, brain injury, chronic pain, obesity, or sports injuries, along with others.
- Detail-oriented: Physical therapists need to pay close attention to detail. Different diagnoses and documentation will have detailed questions and things to note.
How to become a physical therapist
Similar to other healthcare professions, physical therapy requires extensive education and training. Physical therapists enter the workforce with an entry-level doctorate degree.
- Do research and gain experience: No matter what profession someone goes into, it is always important to research the occupation. Having some experience in the medical field may be helpful.
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree: Start by earning a bachelor’s degree in pre-physical therapy or obtain a degree in a health-related field.
- Earn an advanced degree: To work as a physical therapist, a master’s degree is required. Just like occupational therapy, many people get a doctorate degree as well.
- Obtain state licensure: To practice as a professional physical therapist, you must obtain a license from your state’s licensing board. Licensure requirements vary by state but will all require passing the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) exam.
- Complete a residency (optional): Some physical therapists choose to complete a residency before entering the job market. More experience and credibility with patients can be gained by completing a residency.
Remember that the specific steps and requirements can vary based on your location. It’s important to research the requirements in your state to ensure you’re on the right path toward becoming a licensed physical therapist.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists earn a median salary of $97,720.
Are rehabilitation professionals in high demand? Why?
Yes! Any health profession occupation, specifically within rehabilitation professions, is always important and in high demand.
People seek occupational or physical therapy to recover from an accident or illness. These injuries and conditions are always apparent. There are always clients who need rehabilitation. Some people will specialize in a specific therapy area because of the increased demand for those services.
Rehabilitation professionals work with people of all ages. There is continually a need for more and more workers in the field.
What makes Concordia’s Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation Science program unique?
Concordia’s Bachelor in Rehabilitation Science program offers two options: pre-occupational therapy and pre-physical therapy.
Our exceptional instructors contribute to a personalized learning experience for our students. These dedicated educators actively engage in their respective fields, offering individualized attention and bringing current real-life examples and research into the classroom.
Additionally, the flexibility of our online coursework proves invaluable to students leading busy lives and other commitments outside of their educational journey.
How is Concordia University unique?
Concordia is a Lutheran Christian school that integrates those Christian values with our programs. In this model, students acquire knowledge and skills in liberal arts disciplines that prepare them to serve Christ in the Church and the world. We bring a holistic approach to every class we offer our students.
We challenge our students academically but allow them to grow spiritually with us in ways they may not find at other universities. Concordia is a community whose calling is to ensure student success and well-being.
How long does it typically take to complete the degree?
Pre-occupational therapy students can complete the Master of OT in 4.5 years or the Doctor of OT degree in 5 years. Pre-physical therapy students can complete the Doctor of PT degree in 6 years rather than 7.
What format is offered? How long are the classes?
Our Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation program is offered in person with options for some online classes. Classes vary in length depending on the class type. Lab requirement courses will be longer than other traditional courses. Online classes will either be asynchronous or self-paced.
Who are the faculty in the program? Will students have regular communication with them?
Backed by a dedicated team, our program benefits from the expertise of faculty members actively in the field or experienced rehabilitation professionals.
Our professors want the best for our students. They are here to help with any questions or concerns students may have. There will be a constant flow of communication between professor and student. Additionally, if students have questions or need to contact a professor, they will have ways to do that.
How much does the program cost?
Check here for tuition prices and fees. There are 120 total hours required.
Are there scholarships available?
Yes! We have many scholarships and grants available for undergraduate students. Additionally, you can fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) to find out if you qualify for any Federal or State aid.
- High School Diploma
- 3.0 GPA for full acceptance
- Apply Online
- Official High School transcripts (College transcripts if applicable)
- Official ACT or SAT scores
Ready to start?
Check out our program page below to learn more about the Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation Science degree.
Information provided by Steven M. Cope, ScD, a Professor and Chairperson for the Department of Rehabilitation Science at Concordia Wisconsin and Ann Arbor.