Becoming an occupational therapist
Studying Occupational Therapy
There are three undergraduate Occupational Therapy training programmes in the Republic of Ireland. These courses can be accessed through the CAO process. Each college also has an entry route for mature students which you can look up on their website.
These four year courses and are available at:
National University of Ireland Galway
There is also an accelerated postgraduate training programme in the University of Limerick which is a 2-year course.
The courses offer a broad education in health, social and occupational sciences and students take part in supervised clinical placements with qualified therapists during their college education (see practice eductaion below).
All four programmes are accredited by the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland and approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and CORU.
Practice education is a fundamental part of student learning and development when studying Occupational Therapy. It usually involves going on a clinical placement in an Occupational Therapy service where the student gains hand-on expereince under the supervision of an occupational therapist who is registered with CORU.
During their course students will experience a range of different placements that require them to integrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned in taught modules into practice, with a range of different people, such as:
- People of different age groups
- People who have recently acquired and long-standing health needs
- Interventions that focus on the person, the occupation, and the environment.
All students studying Occupational Therapy in Ireland must complete 1000 hours of practice education. Within this 1000 hours, students must complete a minimum of 250 hours within a mental health and/or psychosocial setting and a minimum of 250 hours within a physical/sensory disability practice setting. By the end of their 1000 hours of this work-based learning students must have reached the level of competence necessary to qualify as an occupational therapist.
Who can call themselves an occupational therapist?
In Ireland each person with an Occupational Therapy qualification needs to register with CORU in order to be able to call themselves an occupational therapist and practice Occupational Therapy. This is because the title “Occupational Therapist” is protected under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005. In order to use the title of Occupational Therapist a person must hold a valid qualification from an accredited Occupational Therapy programme and this person must register with CORU.
In Ireland there are currently 3 university degree programmes and one master’s programme. These programmes are accredited by AOTI on behalf of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT). This means that the professional qualification you receive will be recognised internationally and the standard of education meets the WFOT Minimum Standards for Education. In Ireland each university programme is also approved by CORU. This is important as it ensures that standards of education for occupational therapists also meet strict criteria to ensure the protection of the public.
Other Occupational Therapy studies courses
There are other courses in Ireland that offer both online and face to face teaching in Occupational Therapy studies. These courses do not qualify you to become an occupational therapist as they do not meet the World Federation of Occupational Therapy Minimum standards for Education nor do they meet the qualification standards required to register with CORU. Some people do these courses as they would like to work as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.