I’m so proud to be an Occupational Therapist and work in a specialty area! I actually always lead with I am an OT first and my specialty as a Certified Hand Therapist second.
I had the great fortune to be able to work in a lot of different settings such as acute care, inpatient rehab, skilled nursing facilities, and more, all before moving into hand therapy. I believe that having diverse experiences gave me more clarity on how to move towards my passion, gave me more insight into people at all stages, and more empathy for people at all stages of injury and recovery.
When I first got out of school, the only conversations I was having were how hard Occupational Therapy is as a profession, how UNKNOWN we are and how difficult it is to “differentiate ourselves from other health professionals.”
If you are having these types of conversations – I’ll tell you that I don’t have these types of conversations anymore. They are unproductive, and if you really think about it, it’s very negative and puts you on the defensive.
Yes. Not everyone knows about how great Occupational Therapy is as a profession. Hell, we have people in our profession that hate “us” and themselves. But, that conversation is for another day.
Yes. Sometimes people can’t tell how we are different from other professions.
Yes. It can be hard when getting started to make a career for yourself. Fortunately, it’s that way in every field everywhere – otherwise, we may not value what is so great about what we do.
Here’s my perspective on how to advocate and change some of the narratives. We need to work on the offense. (these are the only times I will use football analogies)
- How to advocate for OT.
- How to change your mindset for a rewarding career.
How to advocate for Occupational Therapy?
One of the most POWERFUL ways to advocate for OT is to become REALLY GOOD at what you do. So good that people will want to know your name. Hand therapy is NOT about you. It was never about you. It is about the person that you are helping. It is the family that you are supporting. It is their recovery.
You said that you wanted to help people. Let’s help people!! Develop your skills so that you are so good you can help any patient that comes your way when they can’t move, feel independent, have pain, can’t tie their hair up, can’t get out of bed without pain, can’t play tennis, or swim. Those are a few examples of occupations – that people can not do when they are hurt, feeling hurt, and feeling frustrated that no one is listening.
Be confident and sound confident so that people who are hurt will come back to YOU asking for you by name, and only THEN will you tell them and educate them on how an OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST is so great at what we do. Then, when we help those in need, we can advocate and say things like, “that’s why Occupational Therapy is so great at helping people like you with XYZ types of cases.”
What a great opportunity now to talk about how YOU can help. We are all unique in how we talk, treat, and touch people. We have our own stories that belong only to us. No two people are the same. What is the saying “only be you because everyone else is taken”? Don’t quote me on that, but you bring in a special uniqueness, and people will buy into YOU and trust YOU and want to come back to YOU – to help them because you became so good at what you do.
How to change your mindset from scarcity (negative) to abundance (positive) so that you can have a rewarding career?
You are who you hang out with. If you choose to listen and hang out with negative people, you will think and say everything that they say over time. It’s proven. There’s research behind it.
Change or limit who you hang out with. Change or limit what you listen to.
If you are constantly talking about how there are no jobs in Occupational Therapy or how nobody knows about us because Physical Therapists are all they know. Let me tell you with 100% of my being – that PTs are sitting there saying the same thing about other healthcare professionals.
There are jobs. The question is not, “where are the jobs, and why am I not getting them?” The question should be, “There are jobs, and what do I need to be doing to increase my chances of getting the one I want.”
There are enough people in the world to help. Many people are hurting and can’t do the things that they love and want to be able to do.
You are smart.
You are capable.
You can develop your skills to become great at what you do. You have the power to change how you think so that you can become the occupational therapist that you once dreamt of becoming when you first applied to go to school.
You can decide to become this amazing Occupational Therapist. You can take small, consistent, actionable steps when you specialize in hand therapy and become a Certified Hand Therapist.
You can have a gratifying career in Occupational Therapy that will span your lifetime. It’s your choice.
Ready to skyrocket your Occupational Therapy Career? Whether you are an Occupational Therapist or Physical Therapist, you can become a Certified Hand Therapist.