A career in occupational therapy is incredibly satisfying most of the time because you get to impact people’s lives directly. It is also a very well-paying job, and occupational therapy jobs are not hard to come by if you have the experience. For people who have heard about this glamorous side of the career, here are some few things you should consider before pursuing a career as an occupational therapy.
Observe before enrolling
If you are not sure about enrolling for a degree in occupational therapy, the best way to get off the fence is to observe real-life action. Visit hospitals, rehabilitation centers and clinics where occupational therapists are at work and watch everything they are doing and what their job entails. Ideally, you should visit different settings because OT is very diverse and see both the glamorous side and the dirty side of the job so you can be sure that it is what you really want to do.
Unlike surgeons and most doctors, occupational therapists must have a sensitive, compassionate nature and be great communicators. A big part of the job is communicating with the patient and helping them to overcome their physical and mental challenges, so you have to be personable and easy to relate with. Other personality traits you must have include patience, understanding, professional and critical thinking. If you are someone who loses their temper quickly or cannot teach a child something ten thousand times, physical therapy is not for you.
Physical, mental and emotional capacity
Besides your personality, do you have the ability to handle everything that comes with this profession? While it is okay for people who have a medical condition or disabilities to still pursue a career in OT, one must be clear on their limitations. For example, you need to be on your feet all day and probably carry disabled or sick patients from one place to another. You cannot do this if you have a medical condition like back pain, arthritis or anything that can limit you from lifting heavy things and exerting yourself.
Similarly, if you get tired quickly or faint when you see bodily fluids, you cannot be the right candidate for this profession. It’s a career that requires you to be physically and emotionally fit to deal with the ugliest side of diseases and terrible mood swings from patients without losing your cool.
Ability to separate yourself from the job
The worst part about being a doctor is that you get to see people you have cared about die even after doing everything you can for them. Occupational therapists have it worse because they interact with their patients on a more personal level and often become very close and friendly to their patients. When such a patient takes a turn for the worst, it is possible for the therapist to suffer a loss just as much as the family members do. If you want a career in OT, it’s essential to know that you can separate yourself from the situation and still carry on with your job even if you lose a patient.
Occupational therapy is an expensive career because you must do a master’s degree and sometimes a PhD. It is involving, and you have to explain to everyone what you do for the rest of your career. However, if it is what your heart has loved to do, it can be a very exciting and fulfilling path.