Kimberly Breeden, MS, OTR/L, Coach & Founding Partner

It’s Not Just a Shower: Combatting OT Burnout With a New Perspective

photo black and white two holding hands
Sometime ago I was in a conversation with other occupational therapy practitioners when a comment was made about hoping that new changes at work wouldn't result in having to do more showers with clients. Again much like I mentioned in my last blog post, my response was less than memorable.  Why didn’t I respond? Maybe because  it reminded of me of a time when I felt that way too and I didn't know how to relate my journey of overcoming burnout without offending my colleagues.

My 27 year journey as an occupational therapy practitioner has included many ups and downs which is typical in life. I too well remember a time in my professional career when I did not love occupational therapy. During that time, I lost recognition of how much value we as a profession bring to our clients. I somehow was distracted by meeting productivity and demonstrating medical necessity, and I forgot why I went into this profession. When I was completing my masters degree I realized that I was no longer current, that my practices were outdated. As I delved into the research that demonstrated the importance of occupational engagement, I became more and more empowered to improve the lives of my clients. It became so clear to me that I could meet productivity and demonstrate medical necessity by focusing on each individual's occupational needs fully equipped with evidence and information. My passion grew and continues to grow, and I want so much to share it with other occupational therapy practitioners who may be struggling just like I did. Recognizing my value as an occupational therapy practitioner and the power of occupation is what now fuels my fire.

So how do I wish I would have responded to that practitioner’s comment? Here goes. “I can’t imagine a more meaningful occupation for most of our clients than to be able to shower as autonomously as possible. I can’t imagine a greater privilege than to be allowed to be part of such a vulnerable moment and experience. To have the trust of another individual. To be in that space of total discomfort during one of the most human experiences. I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than being able to use my skills and knowledge as an occupational therapy practitioner to empower another individual to carry out such an integral task as independently as possible. I can’t imagine a more honorable endeavor”. 

I really wish I had said that. But moving forward, I am dedicated to keeping this perspective every day as a practitioner and I am so grateful that I know so many amazing occupational therapy practitioners that keep me inspired! Happy OT Month!

Kimberly Breeden, MS, OTR/L , Founding Partner
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Mindfulness for our Occupations: A Tool for Living Life to the Fullest

This course from the Tennessee Occupational Therapy Association describes how mindfulness fits into our role as a health care practitioner and also how to use mindfulness in our daily occupations. The instructor presents her own experience and continued training to give examples with visual supports.