So as you know if you’ve read my biography I am an Occupational Therapist (OT). Most of the time when I tell people what I do for a living I get, “That’s cool…so what is that exactly?” Since April is OT month I decided to write this post to share some of the reasons why I seriously LOVE my profession.
What is an Occupational Therapist?
An Occupational Therapist is a health and rehabilitation professional. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who need specialized assistance to lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives due to physical, developmental, social, or emotional problems. Occupational therapists use the “occupations” of self-care, work, and play/leisure activities to increase independence, enhance development, and/or prevent disability. To achieve these goals occupational therapists may also adapt the task or the environment. (Source)
Where Do Occupational Therapists Work?
OT’s can work in many different settings. They work with children at school to assist with activities such as handwriting or socializing with others. They work in communities helping adults with brain injuries or disabilities re-integrate into the community or be able to function independently at home. They also work in special settings such as hand therapy clinics or spinal cord injury rehabilitation centers. The list goes on, as these are just a few examples of where you can find an OT.
Personally I have always enjoyed working with adults. I currently work in skilled nursing facilities with geriatric patients who have difficulty completing their activities of daily living (eating, dressing, bathing, etc) due to a physical or cognitive decline. Through the use of therapeutic exercises, therapeutic activities, cognitive retraining and neuromuscular re-education I am able to help my patients become stronger and more independent so they can ultimately return home or to a lower level of care. As an OT I work to make changes to the person, enviroment or occupation in order to ultimately increase health.
5 Reasons I Love My Job
- It’s Rewarding!
It’s the best feeling ever to watch others make positive changes in their lives! The most rewarding part of my career is seeing a patient get stronger and healthier so that they can do the things they want to, or need to, do on their own.
- Different Settings
The job description of an OT varies greatly depending on where they work and with what population. Since there is so much variety you can always find new places or different career paths to take, which prevents burn out and increases job satisfaction.
- Client Based Practice
A big part of being an occupational therapist is helping patients do the things that THEY want to do in life. By having your client be an active participant in goal setting and treatment planning you achieve better outcomes and more effective therapy, as people are able to work towards goals that are important to them. For example, I had a man once tell me that his goal was to be able to play golf again by the spring, although we needed to work on strength and tissue healing we were able to create a customized treatment plan to make sure that he could do the things he needed to do to get back out on the golf course!
- Treating the ‘whole person’
Working as an OT I have learned the importance of treating the whole person (mind, heart and body) rather than focusing on just the physical aspects. By being able to adapt the task or the environment you can make things that may of seemed impossible a reality. For example, through training clients how to use assistive technology and adaptive equipment people with spinal cord injuries can lead full and productive lives despite their physical limitations.
- Perfect combination of creativity, science and problem solving
By using all three of these skills OTs are able to make meaningful changes in someone else’s life. I love that there is room for some creativity because sometimes the solution isn’t always black and white! For example, I love using whatever I can find at the dollar store in order to make adaptive equipment for my patients to use at home, most of the time it’s the simplest gadgets that make the biggest difference! The possibilities are truly endless!
If you have any other questions about how an Occupational Therapist can help you be sure to send me an email or check out http://www.aota.org/ for more information.
This post was inspired by Christie at MamaOT.com . Check her out! She is a pediatric OT and has an awesome blog full of advice and resources for those who care for or work with young children!