Student Ambassador Blog
It took me some research and experience to figure out what I wanted to do for a career.
When I was an undergraduate at USC, I was always asked how I would combine my two majors of creative writing and neuroscience. “Are you going to write childrens’ books about brains?” people would eagerly ask. Honestly, that didn’t sound half bad! However, I had always had a passion for working with people and wanted to do something with healthcare. I was half-heartedly considering medical school (as my father had always wanted me to be a pediatrician) but it just didn’t feel right (and I have an irrational fear of vomiting and can’t handle blood). I really wanted to merge my creative side with the scientific knowledge I had accumulated. When I was a sophomore in college, I was co-president of the Neuroscience Honors Society and hosted a meeting to discuss healthcare careers. My gerontology professor came to speak and he told us about careers such as physical therapy, audiology, and occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy sounded perfect as it used narrative theory to understand people’s life stories, creativity in therapy, and science-based practice. I researched the profession for awhile and read the Eleanor Clark Slagle lectures (lectures given every year at the annual OT conference) from the past 50 years or so in a book to understand the profession more. I loved what I read and felt that I would be a great fit in the profession. I would be able to work individually with clients to effect change in their lives while being creative and scientific! I started working at a local pediatric clinic and really enjoyed the work I did there with the OTs while gaining experience in the field. Now that I am in the Master’s program and learning even more, I am only more excited to contribute to the future of the profession!
So as a first post all of the ambassadors decided that we would post how our love of OT began, or at least how we decided it’s what we wanted to do with our lives:
When I began my undergraduate career I thought that I would eventually be going to medical school. My plan was finish undergrad, apply to medical schools and become a pediatrician. I have loved kids ever since I can remember and I have always planned on working with them. But then junior year came and I definitely did not have the grades that a person would need to get into medical school and so I started to search out other options.
I quickly decided to pick Physical Therapy because I knew that I could still specialize in working with children and it was still in the medical field. By this time, I only had one more summer before graduation. So in April I started calling clinics in my hometown trying to find anyone that would let me volunteer and observe in their pediatric PT office. I called 7 clinics that day and only one called me back. The clinic that called my back was called “OT 4 Kids”, obviously an Occupational Therapy Clinic, although at the time I had no idea. When I had called them, I remember thinking that because it came up in my google search it must be the same thing as PT.
Well the OT in charge of the clinic asked me to come in for an interview. I came in and immediate loved the clinic it just looked so fun, she explained to me that she would pay me to clean, copy papers and observe. I loved working there that summer and I quickly fell in love with the practice of OT. It was something about how they worked with the kids, always letting them find their way and not forcing them into anything. The OTs working at the clinic all would constantly explain to me what they were doing and why they were doing it.
After that summer I knew that OT was my calling and it wasn’t a coincidence that their clinic was the only one to call me back. Check out this video posted on the US News & World Report website by my first OT mentor from OT 4 Kids http://usnews.feedroom.com/?fr_story=FRdamp324632.
I was first introduced to occupational therapy when I was in high school from my older sister who is currently working as a physical therapist. At the time, I had no idea what OT was and didn’t look into it further. I went into college thinking that I wanted to become an elementary school teacher. I took many education courses and student-taught at a couple schools, but during my sophomore year, I discovered that I didn’t really like the dynamics of teaching in front of a big class. I knew that every student had a different learning style and various needs which would help them to succeed, but it was difficult to individualize my lesson plans because of limited time and resources. So, I decided to look into the therapy thing that my sister had recommended and see what it was all about. In the next couple years, I shadowed and volunteered at as many OT sites that would allow me to do so, and I loved it! I have never met an OT who didn’t love what they were doing! The client-centered, one-on-one interactions with clients are what drew me to OT—and through my schooling here at USC, I have learned that this is an inseparable, absolutely necessary part of OT! =)
Well, it started with just two lingering letters stored in the back of my head…OT.
I had heard of occupational therapy, but never really knew what it was. For a while, after having graduated with a BA in psychology, I wasn’t sure what career to pursue. I knew that I loved music and that I wanted to help people; I thought that I could combine both of my interests in psychiatry. In preparing to pursue a career in psychiatry I was taking prerequisite courses for medical school and volunteering at hospitals. Among the places I volunteered at, I had the opportunity to shadow an occupational therapist specialized in assistive technologies. In this experience I learned the importance of matching an assistive device to an individual and not the individual to the device. I was shown the importance of understanding the personal needs and goals of an Individual, and I grew to admire the relationships that developed between the occupational therapist and his clients. This was completely different to what I had seen doctors do in hospitals; they were too busy with their caseload making beds available for others to fill them in. Obviously, MD’s play a very important role in healthcare, but I found that occupational therapy plays an equally important role helping individuals get their lives back on track. I investigated the career further and I found it to be very flexible allowing the therapist to apply their own interests in to their practice; I actually hope to implement the use of music in to my practice in the future, and I feel that I will lead a very fulfilling life following this path.