Recently I was on vacation and went to watch the sunrise, but the clouds were covering it. So I felt like, wow! That’s Occupational Therapy – a great profession, covered with a layer of clouds.
The sun is coming up whether you watch it or not.
OT profession will continue – whether you decide you want to be a part of it or not.
OT profession will continue to exist and continue to help those whether people understand it or not.
The question is not about what Occupational Therapy is as compared to other professions.
The question is, what do YOU want to do with your OT career, regardless of whether EVERYONE understands it or not.
I understand our human nature is the reason why we want to be known and recognized. You worked really hard to get into school. You worked really hard to graduate and pass your boards. You work really hard to help people.
It’s not all about you, though.
It’s about that ONE person you help – and that they understand what you did to help them. That one person will remember that there was one day when they couldn’t do something, and an angel came and helped them get to where they wanted to be.
Don’t tell them. Show them.
Every day, you get to impact a person’s life. They may not remember you or remember that you are an OT, but you had the chance to tell them as you helped them. Even stronger, you had an opportunity to show them.
And if enough of us, occupational therapists, show that one person what we do know how to do and explain to them what we did to help them, they will refer more and more people for occupational therapy.
It’s important to KNOW yourself and what you do. Because if you don’t know, how will you explain to other people in a way that they understand and believe you?
If you want to stay and develop your career in OT, learn to speak about how you can help someone.
Here are my tips:
- Start specifically with what you are doing right now.
- Explain more globally when provided with an opportunity.
- Take every opportunity to point it out and show it off.
Start with specifics based on what you do in your current role. For example, I currently work in hand therapy, and I’m a certified hand therapist.
I meet people at bars (and if you haven’t followed me for a while, I meet many people at bars), and they ask me what I do – this is what I say. “You know when people hurt their hands or arms? I’m the therapist that helps them get rid of their pain and help them recover. I’m an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist.”
And if you have a follow-up question like “oh, is that like physical therapy?”
My answer is, “well, it can certainly look very similar. Both OT and PT are great, and we are completely different professions that help people. Occupational therapists can work in different areas with different specialties helping people live more independent lives without pain and limitations – I specialize in hand and arm therapy. For example, if you hurt your hands, imagine that you can’t pick up your drink, cut up your food, and worse, it’s impacting your work and hobbies. I help you recover and make sure you recover without limitations so that you can enjoy your life fully.”
That’s one example.
The key here is to start specific to what you are currently doing now. That makes it much easier for you to explain in simple terms and for the other person to understand.
Then, because you piqued their interest, they will ask more questions, and you can explain more globally OT ideas. When asked in comparison – always only explain your profession.
Towards the end, throw in the word occupation if you want to. I usually only do that with current patients.
For tip number 3 – that’s usually for my patients. I will make sure to show them where they were when they came in and how OT (with a specialty in hand therapy) helped them with their occupation without making it seem like a lecture.
For example – “look how amazing you are doing since you came in with your elbow injury! When you first came, you could barely XYZ and now look at you! You can wash your face, tie your hair in a ponytail, getting closer and closer to your goals of XYZ! as an Occupational therapist – I love being able to help you recover and get you back to your normal way of functioning.”
We, as occupational therapists, have every opportunity to help people live more independent and fulfilling lives because we are a creative and analytical profession. We know how to observe, break things down, and connect with people in a meaningful way.
Show them your skills.
Tell them through your confidence.
Don’t wait…use every opportunity to show them because you are helping them get results!! But, if you are not getting results or don’t feel like you have the skills or confidence to help people as effectively as you want, let me help you with my coaching programs. Get Started Here!