When I started college, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I ended up majoring in Psychology after taking an intro course because I was so fascinated by the study of mental processes and behavior. I looked into a lot of different career options that would be compatible with a degree in psychology, but I wanted to make sure that what I eventually pursue would be my “dream job”.
When I think about my lifelong career, there are 2 very important things that I consider:
- I’ve always wanted a job where I can help people and make a positive impact in their lives.
- It’s extremely important that I genuinely enjoy my job, since I will be spending 40 hours of my week doing whatever I do. So… might as well have fun doing it!
I first heard about occupational therapy during my sophomore year of college, but I kinda just brushed it off. To be honest, I didn’t fully grasp the concept of OT at the time. About a year and a half later, I was reintroduced to the field of OT, and this time, I was a lot more interested in it.
So, I decided to shadow at a pediatric OT clinic in Santa Monica. During my first shadowing visit, I was a little disappointed. It seemed like the therapy session just consisted of the OT playing with a kiddo, and I couldn’t help but think to myself, “people actually get paid to do this?!”… UNTIL, the OT debriefed me and started explaining all the science behind each activity. (For those of you who don’t know, OT is heavily involved in working with the human anatomy and physiology, and there is a whole field known as “occupational science” that works to deliver evidence-based treatment.)
Everything started making sense! If you think about it, a child’s main occupation is to learn and play. So, OTs design their treatment to look like play, but it’s actually science and therapy in action. *Mindblown*
I continued to shadow at pediatric OT clinics which mainly focused on sensory integration, but I also volunteered at an intensive OT and PT pediatric clinic. Both settings helped me to gain more knowledge and confirm my decision to pursue a career as an occupational therapist.
So, why exactly did I choose OT as my dream job?
- As an OT, you get to work in so many different settings (schools, private clinics, hospitals, home care, etc.), with many different age groups (anywhere from newborns to older adults), and you can even concentrate in different areas (sensory integration, mental health, productive aging, research, etc). There are just so many opportunities in the field of OT, and I know that I would never get bored.
- Creativity is not only welcome, but required in OT! When I was younger, I always loved doing arts and crafts, and in high school, I attended a visual arts magnet school. I have always loved the arts and exercising my creativity. OT is all about being creative, thinking outside of the box, and being innovative.
- Doctors may save lives, but OTs give those lives meaning. The core philosophy of occupational therapy is to help individuals live their lives meaningfully, with purpose, and as independently as possible. Our “occupations” refer to anything that we spend time doing: eating, bathing, driving, socializing, cooking dinner, playing basketball, painting, etc. We do not realize how important these occupations are in our daily lives until we are suddenly unable (or were never able) to engage in these activities. When this happens, our quality of life declines drastically. Occupational therapists assess these situations and figure out how to get you back on track to being able to do what you wanna do! We want your life to be meaningful and goal-oriented, no matter the circumstances.
- Occupational therapy is a growing field. When I was considering my career options, I wanted something that was stable and growing. Especially with the aging population, occupational therapy is becoming more and more needed. There are always jobs open for OTs, and it’s a great feeling knowing that your job is always important and needed. I have personally worked with an OT who was older (probably in her 60s), and heard of OTs who decided to come back to practice after being bored of retirement. I love that I won’t have to worry about finding work, even when I’m older.
I could honestly list so many more reasons about why I chose to pursue this career, but this post is getting a bit too long for that. If anyone out there is still trying to figure out what to do with their lives, I hope this gives you something to chew on. I don’t think that OT is for everyone, but I do think it’s important to consider some central factors that are really important to you when deciding on a career path. Thanks for reading!