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Occupational Therapist

A United States Navy Occupational Therapist uses a therapy tool to test a patient's finger grip and dexterity.

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As an Occupational Therapist and Officer in Navy Clinical Care, your responsibilities may include:

  • Working with inpatients and outpatients who have suffered a stroke, injury, disease or other impairment
  • Using specialized tools such as goniometers, which measure range of motion, and dynamometer for measuring hand and finger grip
  • Rehabilitating functional daily living skills such as bathing, dressing, eating and use of related adaptive devices
  • Assessing patients who may require assistive devices
  • Providing custom-made garments for an ailment or condition
  • Evaluating and treating patients referred for multiple diagnoses requiring acute rehabilitation in inpatient and outpatient settings
  • Receiving extra training in modalities such as electrical stimulation or ultrasound for pain management and placement activities for dexterity
  • Training as an upper-extremity neuro-musculoskeletal evaluator or pediatric occupational therapist
  • Teaching in a dual-service occupational therapy assistant program


Work Environment

Navy Occupational Therapists may serve at any one of more than 250 Navy and medical facilities around the globe, from Hawaii to Japan, Germany to Guam, and Washington, D.C., to Washington state. As a Navy Occupational Therapist, you could work at one of the highly acclaimed National Naval Medical Centers in Bethesda, MD, Portsmouth, VA, or San Diego, CA. Or you could provide medical support aboard one of two dedicated hospital ships—the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy.

Training & Advancement

Upon graduation from medical school, those pursuing an Occupational Therapist position are required to attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. ODS is a five-week program that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers. Here they learn about the military structure of the U.S. Navy, its rich history of traditions and customs, leadership development and military etiquette.

Once that training is complete, you will learn the ins and outs of life as a Medical Technologist and receive your first assignment. Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.

Post-Service Opportunities

It’s also important to note that specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields.

Education Opportunities

Wherever you are in your professional career, the Navy can help ease your financial burdens and advance your career with generous financial assistance and continuing education programs. Opportunities for further education within this platform include:

Through the Navy Health Professions Loan Repayment Program (HPLRP), you may be eligible to receive financial assistance to pay down the cost of your graduate education.

Qualifications & Requirements

A degree from a four-year college or university is a minimum educational requirement to become a Commissioned Officer. You must also attend Officer Training. There may be exceptions to the degree requirements based on extensive service experience. Additional qualifications include:

  • U.S. Citizen between the ages of 21 and 41
  • Currently licensed and practicing in the U.S. (new graduates must obtain a license within one year of beginning Active Duty service)
  • Graduate of an approved school
  • Willing to serve a minimum of three years Active Duty
  • In good physical condition and able to pass a full medical examination

General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.

Part-Time Opportunities

Serving part-time as a Navy Reserve Officer, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, Occupational Therapists in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes. This gives you the flexibility to expand your experience in the Navy without compromising your civilian practice at home.

For annual training, you may serve anywhere in the world, whether at sea, in hospitals stateside, or in bases and camps in countries around the world.

Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Navy Reserve Sailors.

Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent.

Occupational Therapists in the Navy Reserve serve in an Officer role. Before receiving the ongoing professional training that comes with this job, initial training requirements must first be met.

For current or former Navy Officers (NAVET): Prior experience satisfies the initial leadership training requirement, so you will not need to go through Officer Training again.

For current or former Officers of military branches other than the Navy (OSVET), as well as for Officer candidates without prior military experience: Officer Candidates are required to attend Officer Development School (ODS) in Newport, RI. ODS is a five-week program that provides a comprehensive and intense introduction to the responsibilities of Navy Staff Corps Officers. Officers who previously held a commission in another United States Military Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Public Health Service, or United States Coast Guard are exempt from attending ODS or LDO/CWO Academy.

With flexible training options, Navy Reserve Officers can comfortably balance civilian and military schedules. You can maintain your own life and your own practice – enriching both with the rewarding work you do for others.

The Navy offers you a truly diverse variety of academic, clinical and operational settings in which to practice. In some cases, you can even work in the same civilian setting you work in now. What’s more, you will enjoy an unrivaled sense of pride and fulfillment known only to those who serve.

As a Reserve Occupational Therapist Officer, you’ll receive a first-rate benefits package including your choice of either $50,000 per year in specialty pay, up to $250,000 in medical school loan repayment assistance, or an immediate one-time sign-on bonus of up to $10,000. Reserve Sailors joining the Navy as residents can get up to $250,000 in school loan repayment assistance as well as a monthly stipend, dependent upon service commitment. Request a medical recruiter contact you for complete offer details.