To continue our celebration of #OTMonth, we are sharing stories from Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants about why they chose their fulfilling career and the moments that re-enforce their decision to work every day to enhance the life of every person they serve.
I went in to the profession somewhat blindly. I knew I wanted to be in healthcare, knew I did not want to be a nurse, and medical school just sounded too expensive. I do not have the inspirational story, or the life-related experience that drove me to become an occupational therapist; however, as my career path and personal life have intertwined, my experiences as an Occupational Therapist have affirmed that I am in the right place. Being an OT has given me confidence within myself, and to be a leader within my profession. My career is constantly providing me with growth opportunities and daily application.
Exactly two years ago, I was living in Southern California, and getting ready to move back to Oregon. My mom called and told me that my Grandpa, a man who had helped raise me and whom I had lived with most of my childhood, was going home from the hospital and on hospice care. I immediately bought a plane ticket home and was his primary caregiver for five straight days and nights.
Those were the most difficult, most anxious, most stressful days of my life. In that short amount of time, I truly experienced the role of a caregiver, and I relied heavily on my training as an OT to keep myself sane. I realized how drastic my roles and routines had changed, the occupational imbalance that quickly ensued, how to provide respite care for my grandmother, educating my family on what to expect and more importantly, how to take care of Grandpa while protecting themselves.
This was more than just daily application; this was my life, and I will never forget that experience, and how my training as an OT helped me through it. It also gave me a first-hand perspective on being on the other side. Now, when a similar situation arises with one of my patients, I have a greater sense of empathy, compassion, and yearning to be a resource and support to their families.
Occupational Therapy has added purpose and an enormous sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in my life, and because of OT, I have more inspiration and more life-experiences than I could have ever imagined.