“Don’t you wish you had gone straight into occupational therapy? Just think of where you would be now.”
I heard those words when I was 3 years into my career as an
OTA. They made me stop and begin to do some math. If I had gone a more
traditional route to OT, I would’ve had around 14 years’ experience under my
belt at that point instead of only 3.
At first reflection, I began to doubt the choices I had made. I had experience in 2 other careers. Was that time wasted?
Though, I also had this settled feeling too. A feeling of being right where I needed to be. The more I reflected, I clearly began to see that no time had been wasted. Every step that I had taken provided important lessons, perspectives, and skills that made me the amazing, powerful OTA that I was then, and I continue to be now. (Listen, about that word powerful, we really need to see ourselves and our profession as powerful!! I’m just embracing it. You should too. That’s a blog for another time though…)
Finding the value in my journey
My experiences had very little to do with healthcare. I obtained a BA in Communication. I had worked as a video editor and a show producer in television news. I had also worked in marketing for a publishing company. You might be thinking, how in the world does any of those help me be a better OTA?
Here are a few things that stand out to me:
- I learned to listen to other people’s stories when I was writing, editing, and creating daily newscasts.
- I had to understand and could put myself in other people’s shoes to create content that was relevant to the audience for both the newscast and for selling books.
- I had to observe my environment for clues about everything
going on so I could plan and react. (Seriously, when the video for your main
story is walking in the door 10 minutes before the show, you bet no one has to tell
you what is going on. You already know.)
- I turned observable facts and information into written form. (Hello SOAP note application!!)
- The details mattered. I learned to juggle a lot of things going on while staying focused on the details that couldn’t slip through the cracks.
- I can promote ideas and products. This really comes in handy now for promoting my value as an OTA and the value of OT!
Find the value in YOUR journey
I’m not special though. Every OT, OTA, and occupational therapy student brings their own perspectives and journeys. Those different journeys and perspectives benefit the clients that we serve, other OT practitioners, and our profession. Our profession is so much richer for the variety. We also can learn from each other.
For new grads and students, recognizing and affirming your unique contributions is so important! It is so easy to feel lost and lacking as you work to grow your skills and find your feet as an OT practitioner. I encourage you to take some time and reflect on your own steps that brought you to occupational therapy. Find those unique perspectives and skills that you have. Build your confidence in your abilities while also learning and growing in ways that make you a little scared and uncomfortable (in a good way).
See your value in being you.
What is OT? Nailing Your OT Elevator Speech
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