Benefits of Being an Occupational Therapist: Feeling Joy in My Career

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Sometimes, the dream career isn't what you expected it to be. It could be because you aren't happy in a setting, or you are having difficulty with the work environment. But that doesn't mean you made the wrong career choice completely.

Nikki, our OT guest blogger, shares how changing jobs made her realize she made the right call in pursuing a career in the occupational therapy field, and how she feels validated in her decision. To her, the benefits of being an occupational therapist are all about growth and opportunity, low-stress, and great work-life balance.

Benefits of being an OTA

My First, Unsatisfying Job

In my previous blogs, I have mentioned how my first job out of school was in the hospital setting. I was unhappy and felt very unfulfilled. There were many days after my alarm clock would go off in the morning where I would just lie there willing it to be the weekend. I would push snooze so many times I was always running late and stressed because I did NOT want to go to work.

Upon graduation, I looked for whatever job I could find in order to start repaying my student loans. I knew this was not the setting I wanted to work in long term. However, I did not know I would be this unhappy. I was second guessing my career choice and felt stuck, as I had quite a large amount of student loans to repay.

Finding the Right Fit

I feel fulfilled and feel like my life has a purpose!

I started looking for another job and after five months of working in the hospital, I took a new job. I began working in an outpatient orthopedic clinic in upper extremity rehab. I thought this would be my dream job and I am so lucky it turned out to be true! I have been there ever since and I still love it today. Shortly after I started working where I am now, I definitely felt like my career choice to become an occupational therapist had been validated.

I Feel Valued and Make a Difference

In my new position, I get to follow patients with their entire rehab journey and I can see if my interventions are benefiting my patients. In the hospital, I was lucky if I got to work with the same patient twice. In outpatient, I get to work with the same patient one to five times each week and get to see their progress! My efforts are validated, and I get to see the look on my patients’ faces when they meet their goals.

I have had patients give me hugs and write me thank-you notes after they discharge from therapy as they feel I have made such an impact in their life. Reading those thank-you notes is the best feeling in the world and makes you feel like a million bucks!

I Like My Employers and Coworkers

I have found a niche where I have a lot in common with my coworkers. I am fortunate to work in a clinic with multiple therapists. Most outpatient clinics employ one or two occupational therapists so you are often by yourself. I find I have similar interests, drive, motivation, and personalities with a lot of my coworkers. We see eye-to-eye which helps us to work as a team.

I would consider many of my coworkers close friends of whom I spend time with outside of work. Our clinic is very busy, which I find exciting. It also makes the day fly by.

Loving my Job

I have narrowed my focus and specialized my career in upper extremity rehab, which I find interesting, and I’m totally geeked out by it! I will talk to coworkers about a diagnosis or rehab program and come up with a question in my mind that I can’t wait to answer by doing some research on the topic. Yes, I just said research. That sounds like the most boring thing in the world until it is on a topic you find interesting!

I have never woken up from my alarm in the morning wishing I work somewhere else or not wanting to go to work. I may not be happy all day, every day, but I am happy every single day.

In any career if you are unhappy with your job, you need to fix it.

One of the great things about occupational therapy is the opportunity to work in many different settings. You spend a significant amount of your life at work, and if you are not happy you need to start looking elsewhere.

Benefits of Being an Occupational Therapist

OTA is consistently listed as one of the best health care jobs, and for good reason. There is:

  • high growth
  • low stress
  • great work-life balance

If you are ready to learn more about a satisfying health care career as on OTA, speak to an admissions advisor today.

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