A Love Letter to OT
February 6, 2024
With February upon us, love is in the air and, as a bit of a hopeless romantic myself, I’ve been taking time to reflect on the things I love, including OT. Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and find a career that I was passionate about. My dad would say, “Sam, if you’re doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Although I have yet to fully immerse myself in practice, every time I participate in fieldwork and envision the future I’m creating for myself in school, I’m confident that I love OT in the same way my dad describes loving his career. Upon reflection, here are some of the many reasons I fell in love with the profession of occupational therapy:
Playing with a Purpose: As a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to occupational therapy when my cousin, Tori, was born with Down Syndrome. In efforts to support my family and learn more about pediatric healthcare professions, I joined Tori at many of her PT, OT, and speech therapy sessions. It was here that I began to recognize the value of play as a means of therapeutic intervention. Whether it was running around on an obstacle course to work on balance and motor planning or swinging on a bolster swing to receive vestibular input, Tori was having fun while simultaneously strengthening skills that would be applicable to other facets of her life. Through my observations in this OT clinic, I fell in love with the concept of playing with a purpose and knew I could see myself making a difference in children’s lives in this manner for the rest of my life.
Flexibility in Practice Areas: Like many, I arrived at OT school with my heart set on pediatrics. As I began my first immersion, I was placed at an outpatient hand therapy clinic for fieldwork and became enamored with the complexities and inner workings of the hand and wrist. Internally, I began having a bit of an identity crisis, as I was unsure of the definitive path I wanted to pursue. However, my perspective shifted when I recognized the flexibility within the field of OT. Although certain settings require advanced practice, there’s a beauty to the inherent flexibility that this profession offers. OT practitioners have the freedom to navigate through various practice areas at different points in their lives. For instance, starting an entry-level position in acute care doesn’t confine someone to that setting forever. If this same individual desires to start a family or becomes the primary caregiver of a loved one later in life, transitioning seamlessly to a more suitable practice area without returning to school is a viable option. Ultimately, I love that the dynamic nature & flexibility of occupational therapy not only promotes the practitioners’ ability to enhance the lives of others, but also empowers them to pursue a career that aligns with their evolving personal and professional aspirations.
Applications of Creativity: As a creative person who enjoys crafting and making music, I love having the opportunity to integrate these aspects of my own life into professional practice. In our Creativity, Craft, and Activity Analysis course, we explored different creative modalities that can be used to enhance interventions with clients. From collaging a vision board to promote self-awareness and identity to making a pumpkin out of construction paper to practice cutting with scissors, the possibilities are endless. The creative process allows people to explore and express themselves in ways that traditional interventions might not achieve, therefore being creative in my personal life informs my practice. Although this application can be challenging at times, I find it exciting to be able to integrate occupations I enjoy in my profession.
Though everyone’s occupational therapy journey is different, I hope that my experience and love for the profession helps you appreciate it & ponder the reasons you’re pursuing this career too.