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Overseas Occupational Therapy Career

Occupational Therapist Jobs and
Career in United Kingdom

All Occupational Therapists employed in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom are required by law to be State Registered, including Occupational Therapists who trained in member countries of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Occupational Therapy in the UK, is a regulated profession. This means there is one minimum standard of qualifying education for entry to the profession. All those who are assessed as having reached that standard are granted State Registration and a legal licence to practice the profession in the UK. Registration is designed to protect the public and maintain professional standards.

The Health Professions Council (formerly CPSM), as the regulatory authority, deals with applications for UK State Registration. It grants eligible Occupational Therapists a licence to practise, maintains a register of such Occupational Therapists and has disciplinary powers. Obtaining and maintaining a licence to practice from the HPC is a legal requirement. Applications for state registration should be made on the official application form, available from the HPC.

British Association of Occupational Therapists (BAOT)/College of Occupational Therapists (COT) is the trade union, educational and professional body for UK Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy students.

Wherever possible, apply from your own country where you will have easier access to the required documentation and a means of financial support whilst waiting for the completion of the registration process. Job seekers first need to know whether a period of adaptation might be needed and what this could mean in terms of time and cost.

If you trained outside the EU, academic equivalence between your qualifying education and that in the UK must be established before the HPC can process your application.

Your country of training and nationality are different. It is your country of training, and not your nationality, which is relevant to the HPC when assessing your application for registration. If you were trained in an EU country but are a non-EU national, then the usual regulations would apply in respect of UK entry clearance and work permit regulations for non-EU citizens. Alternatively if you were trained outside the EU but are an EU citizen, you would have free entry to the UK to seek work without a permit.

EEA Nationals

Whilst there is no automatic recognition of professional qualifications or the right to work in any member state, all applicants have a right to be considered.

An applicant's qualifying education should broadly correspond with the UK BSc degree programme in terms of academic equivalence and scope of study. Applicants are compared with the standard of a newly qualified UK-trained Occupational Therapist, across the whole range of skills and knowledge required.

Occupational Therapists with training and post-qualification experience equivalent to the UK BSc degree will be automatically eligible for State Registration. Where academic or clinical shortfalls have been identified, applicants will be offered a period of adaptation. The recommendation may be a further course of study, or a period of supervised clinical practice in a UK hospital, as specified by the Occupational Therapy Board of the CPSM.

Non-EEA Applicants

All applicants from outside the EEA, whose training and post-qualification experience has been assessed as equivalent to a UK BSc degree will always be considered for state registration. Wherever possible applicants will be recommended to undertake a period of adaptation to deal with identified differences in scope of practice as above.

Non-UK trained applicants who are required by the HPC to undertake a period of adaptation can either find a hospital willing to provide clinical supervision or follow a course approved by the HPC.

Work Permits

Occupational Therapists from member states of the EU  countries do not require work permits. Nationals of other countries must be in possession of a work permit. It is not advisable to enter the United Kingdom as a visitor in the expectation that permission to work can be obtained afterwards. There is no guarantee that permission will be granted in such circumstances.

The following do not require work permits:
(1) Holders of United Kingdom passports
(2) Nationals of Member States of the European Union (EU)
(3) Commonwealth citizens who have entry clearance; prior application must be made to the British Representative of the country of residence.

Commonwealth Citizens between the ages of 17 & 27 years wanting to take a working holiday in the UK can work as Occupational Therapists. The immigration and nationality department has set out the criteria for the Working Holiday Visa Scheme.

Finding Job

There is a national shortage of occupational therapists and the demand is high. After qualification, most occupational therapists have the opportunity to gain experience in a range of different service areas, before choosing to specialise in senior posts. At present there are a large number of job vacancies throughout the UK and qualified state registered therapists enjoy excellent career opportunities in a variety of clinical, research, teaching and management posts.

You can not work as an occupational therapist whilst you are waiting for the HPC process to be completed. No one may work as an occupational therapist in the UK without State Registration. If you are an EU citizen, or have a working holidaymaker visa, you are free to seek work in the UK, other than as an occupational therapist, whilst waiting for State Registration. For example you could work as an occupational therapist assistant.

If you have been offered a period of adaptation by the HPC and have entry clearance to the UK, then you can, regardless of your country of training, work as an occupational therapy assistant whilst you are waiting for the HPC process to be completed.

Some Occupational Therapists come to an arrangement with the hospital providing their period of adaptation. The hospital provides clinical supervision for the period of adaptation, and the Occupational Therapist works as an assistant for the hospital (where there is a vacancy). The two activities must be kept separate.

Masterís Degree

If you have undertaken a Masters program as part of continuing professional development, the HPC will still need to assess your qualifying education. Masters level programs deepen knowledge in particular areas but the registration process checks for broad coverage of all topics at a minimum level.

You do need UK State Registration in order to touch patients as part of your Masters programme, unless it is a purely theoretical degree. If you are an EU citizen with UK State Registration, you may work as an occupational therapist whilst you are a student.

If you are a citizen of any other country and are registered, you may be able to work for a few hours each week on your student visa. If you are a student without UK State Registration, you may work as an occupational therapist assistant on a student visa.

In the following pages, you will find brief information useful to overseas occupational therapists that want to work in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

The complete details can be found in 'Your Complete Guide to Overseas Occupational Therapy Career.'

It is a downloadable eBook. It is not available in paper format.

Information for overseas Occupational Therapists:

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