It is predominantly women who are applying to the Occupationa Therapist programme, but now the trend shows that more and more men have found their way to occupational therapist profession. In the last approved class of the occupational therapy program at Luleå University of Technology, five students are men.
– We now live in a modern society where women work as fighter pilots and police officers and men as hair stylists. Why not male occupational therapists? I hope all of these predetermined views will disappear and all people choose their careers based solely on their own values and interests for a particular profession, says Rare Cornel Stanescu from Rödeby in Blekinge, who study in the second semester on the Occupational Therapy program at Luleå University of Technology.
Patrik Pogorzelski, Rares Cornel Stanescu och Emil Heitz agree that a more even gender distribution would benefit the profession.
– It is important to highlight male occupational therapists so that other men have the opportunity to identify themselves and apply to the programme, says Patrik Pogorzelski from Helsingborg.
– Diversity is never wrong and I can not see any advantage of being a woman or a man in the profession. We possess all the knowledge and opinions that are important to be heard and as there is a shortage of occupational therapists, it is important to get as many people as possible to the education, says Emil Heitz, Västerås.
A profession in constant development
An occupational therapist work is always based on the individual, what conditions exist and what the person wants to achieve, and from there form strategies that make everyday activities work.
– I have been a musician, physically active and worked in the industry. As a guitarist, I have acquired a number of hand problems, through sport, I got herniated disc and through poor work environment at various workplaces, I have gained an interest for environmental issues. I felt that the Occupational Therapist occupation had a combination of all the dimensions, says Patrik Pogorzelski.
The male students hope that more men should find their way to the Occupational Therapist occupation and Emil Heitz believes that a clearer presentation of what an occupational therapist is working with could help.
– The work tasks can differ quite a lot. There is a big difference between an Occupational Therapist working in the municipality, county council, employment office, occupational healthcare or private sector. As a constant evolving profession, the work can also vary depending on when a person graduated and the professional experience.
– I think it's the most meaningful job I can have by contributing to well-being, independence, and giving hope to people in difficult situations, says Rare Cornel Stanescu.
Great demand for Occupational Therapists
Unemployment among Occupational Therapists is very low and tends to continue to decline. Regularly, the Employment Service receives signals from municipalities and county councils who can not fill vacancies because they have not received any applicants. In the long term, the demand for Occupational Therapists will increase faster than the number of occupational therapists. This according to Saco's annual report Framtidsutsikter.
– We are continuously contacted by municipalities and county councils who want to get in touch with our graduation class to recruit Occupational Therapists. Recently, these employers have also sought contact with second-year students to try to secure their future recruitment. My experience is also that Occupational Therapists are also asked for other positions primarily in municipal organisations, says Cecilia Björklund, education leader at the Occuaptional Therapist programme at Luleå University of Technology.