Saturday, April 9, 2011

What Differentiates Occupational Therapy

My first experience with occupational therapy came to me through a high-school internship. I was assigned to shadow professionals in an outpatient facility that focused on children. The location had speech, physical, and occupational therapist, and also an audiologist. I worked with all of them on a regular basis, but only one of these professions spoke to me. That was occupational therapy. What I would do to thank those professionals know, but my high school self threw away those business cards a long time ago.

Why did this profession mesmerize me? First, there was such a variety in what they did everyday. I worked with different professionals, but I saw the same patients over the semester. Every session with the patient was unique from the week before. It could because the patient's attitude was different than the week before, new skills were being worked on, someone else was using the equipment we used the week before, or a new treatment was tested. There was consistency in the way I was seeing the same patients and for the most part working on the same skill sets, but every session offered unique challenges to overcome and new successes to be proud about. I also enjoyed the community involvement seen in occupational therapy. The therapist did not focus strictly on the patient's needs. The therapist also involved other therapists, doctors, and professionals that work with the patient, the family of the patient, and what they patient wanted to achieve or enjoyed in life. Often the therapist would send the patient and their family to other resources in the community. Many of the occupational therapists I have met volunteer their time in the community also. The mindset of putting the patient in realistic settings in the community intrigued me. Heavens knows I hate classes that I see no realistic purpose for other than increasing my problem solving skills. Finally, the sheer enjoyment of helping someone achieve a goal in their life is incredible rewarding. Seeing the smiles and hearing the joy and thanks makes the hardest day so much better. What else could I want for a career? Maybe a seven figure salary, but we will work on that.

Physical and speech therapy have many of these aspects, but what I feel like they are missing is the variety, easy application to the community, and community involvement. This is just my personal opinion. Not everybody will agree. That is okay. Speech and physical therapists are desperately needed in our society. If everybody wanted to be an occupational therapist, there would be no room for me. This is just what I personally was looking for in a career. It is not the same for everybody, but hopefully it is perfect for me.

I have had a few affirmations that this is the right career for me. The first affirmation was when my father set up a "tea party" with an occupational therapist in our neighborhood. She said speech therapists' desks are always clean and organized, physical therapists' desks are always a mess, and occupational therapists' desks are messy, but they can always find everything. As if the desk is organized into messy piles. I have yet to learn if these generalizations are actually true, but if they are then I am definitely an occupational therapist. The other affirmations have come recently. I was exploring some of the older blog posts on Belong OT and I read two phrases she discovered earlier about OT. One was "Putting the fun in functional". Who does not like having fun while getting work done? It is something I strive for everyday. A personal goal I have is to make someone laugh everyday. The other phrase was "Making everyday independence day". One of my favorite attributes about myself is that I am incredibly independent. Nothing better than giving that opportunity to all. Hopefully, I will have a lot more affirmations to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment