Updated: May 23, 2020
1. Is Occupational Therapy a Difficult Job? Occupational Therapy is a career unlike any other. It is challenging, yet rewarding. When people ask me this question, I don’t hesitate to remind them that they will be servicing a person that is going through one of the most challenging times of their lives.
You should ask yourself if you are the type of person that works well with someone that is going through the stages of grief, may be irrational, is in denial of their child’s deficits, has a sense of loss, is depressed, etc. Obviously, not every patient comes with these factors but it’s important to examine the tough parts of the job to determine if you WANT to be an OT. Secondly, I often hear from therapists that the job can be both mentally and physical exhausting. Burnout is real, I won’t address it here but there are many articles online about how to avoid it. Also, some people wonder why they went to school for so many years to do a physically demanding job.
In many settings, you end up lifting the weight of patients for transfers. For some, the idea of doing this until retirement age is daunting. For this reason, I always recommend having an exit strategy and diversifying your experience. By diversifying your experience you’ll be able to smoothly transition into a setting that has less physical demands.
2. What are the working hours like? This depends on the setting. School hours are nice because you are out by 2:30-3:30pm. Most hospital jobs are 7-3:30pm. And SNF jobs tend to have the possibility of evening hours due to late admissions. Hospitals and SNFs often have a weekend requirement. 3. Does your salary increase with experience and more education? It should but it doesn’t always. At the end of the day, businesses have the right to run their business how they want to. They can choose to save costs, or they can choose to retain quality therapists with more experience. 4. Is the NBCOT board exam difficult? I passed on my first try and I was never a perfect student. With that being said, the format of the exam has changed since I took it. I recommend visit www.NBCOT.com and looking at the most recent passing rate statistics.There are many Facebook groups that focus on helping each other troubleshoot your areas of weakness. I recommend joining these groups while you are still in school to start to get a sense of the formatting and types of questions you will see in the future. There are so many great occupational therapy tips on Facebook groups! 5. How did you know that OT was for you? When you get into OT school you will learn about task analysis in detail. The truth is you should be thinking about it before even joining. I personally, analyzed the parts and tasks of the job and checked off whether I was able to handle it and whether or not I enjoyed it. For example,
Occupational Therapists demonstrate an interest in helping others. We assist with activities of daily living including bathing, toileting, and cooking. We help with handwriting, help organize medications, explain the benefits of what we are doing, and answer many questions.
The OT curriculum is full of science with courses like neuroanatomy, kinesiology, physiology, and anatomy.
Physically capable. Occupational Therapist consists of a lot of bending, lifting, standing, walking, hearing, and seeing.
Critical Thinking – Occupational Therapists need to take many factors into consideration when making decisions on the treatment and evaluation of patients.
Calm in emergency situations
Dealing with people at their worst – as discussed above
Flexible and Adaptable – people have the right to change their minds and medical status can easily change the plan of care overnight.
Detail Oriented – Your licensure will depend on you recording facts and tracking progress.
So the answer is, I first fell in love with the profession, then I really deeply analyzed the different components and figured that it would be a perfect match for me!
6. Are there a lot of Occupational Therapists in the United States? There were 118,070 Occupational Therapists as of 2016.
7. Should I shadow before applying to schools? Absolutely! You should observe in a physical dysfunction setting (SNF, hospital, subacute) and a pediatric setting. (school, clinic). If you are interested in shadowing, contact a school you are intending to apply to and ask if they know of any places that you can shadow at.
8. How much do you make as an Occupational Therapist? Check out the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website for the most recent info.