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MSW VS. OT

Discussion in 'Mental Health and Social Welfare' started by skywalking1990, Dec 5, 2017.

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Should I pursue an MSOT or MSW ?

  1. MSW

    0 vote(s)
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  2. MSOT

    0 vote(s)
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  3. Neither (move, learn to be self-sufficient and don't purse a graduate degree)

    2 vote(s)
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  1. skywalking1990

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    Hi everyone!

    I hope this post finds you well. I am truly in a dillema! All you replies will be truly appreciated.

    I did my undergrad in Psychology. Graduated from a private university with a massive amount of debt and a 3.6 GPA. The medical field has always been my passion. I had inteded to attend Medical School but due to mental health issues and family obligations and a bad experience with OCHEM I switched into going into OT.

    Last year, I got into NYU's Occupational Therapy program conditionally (I still have to take A&P II)
    However, my dad passed away and I had to work full time to help out my mother. I rejected NYU. Also, to be honest I was afraid that I would not be able to do well in labs during graduate school-SERIOUS anxiety (2017 was one of the toughest years)

    As time went on I became depressed and worked as a case worker with my psychology degree. The job was horrible! I felt empathy for clients but within two months I missed the way my science courses made me feel-logical, no emotions, and stability.

    Because of my age (I am turning 27 soon!) I was scared to waste even more time without a graduate degree so I decided to apply to an MSW program along with re-applying to the OT program. This time whichever program I decide on I will complete it DETERMINED and NO OTHER OBLIGATIONS.

    I got into Columbia Universities MSW program for the spring.
    I won't hear from the Occupational therapy program until about 2 more months.

    Although, I simply just want to get started on grad school and begin the next chapter of my life and start working I am torn between OT (and completing A&PII) or going for the MSW degree.

    I hear horror stories about social work but I also hear amazing things about it.

    OT has the science component which I like and pays more.

    I have to think about salary because I am a man and do eventually want to have kids and get married. I also have my disabled parents to help out.

    I know SW has the ability to increase pay with more experience, especially after licensure.
    But to be honest, I do care about the respect I get in my profession and SW isn't as respected as an OT.

    PLEASE PLEASE help me out with your experiences and advice.
     
    #1 skywalking1990, Dec 5, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  3. counselor2b

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    Admittedly I am neither a MSW or an OT but SW and OT are vastly different fields. I completed my masters in counseling but had been enrolled in a MSW program with a clinical mental health focus. However, I found the generalist education portion not to be in line with my interests and ultimately decided to leave the program as it would have taken 4 years to complete(part-time). If you are more interested in the medical aspect I imagine OT would likely offer that more so than a MSW. Also, graduate school is expensive and if undergrad loans are an issue, Columbia is an extremely expensive school. The MSW can be a great gateway degree to do a many number of jobs but not every job pays extremely well. On average OT will likely provide a greater return , depending how much you spend on education. Ultimately, you have to decide what is best for you, and what you can see yourself doing for the rest of your working life. Best of luck with your decision.
     
    skywalking1990 likes this.
  4. skywalking1990

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    I received a tiny scholarship and to be honest if I don't go to CU I would have to undergo the grad school application process a THIRD time and free time/time off from school is truly not what I need right now.. Hm tough spot I am in. It is tough finding decent work with an undergrad in psychology hence the need for graduate school..
     
  5. skywalking1990

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    no more comments? replies? Anyone there?
     
  6. singasongofjoy

    Psychologist

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    I would probably lean OT if I were you. The social workers I know tend to be more stressed out than the OT folks I know and if your mental health is a concern, greater financial payoff and greater chances of a less-stressful day to day sound like good things. Both jobs involve doing good, important work that is rewarding. If you're truly torn, go with what will more likely end with more money and less stress.
     
    skywalking1990 likes this.
  7. counselor2b

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    I get it. I had to put in 2+ years working case management jobs I didn't really care for with my psych degree before I landed sonething I liked. Hang in there. Just make sure you keep tuition costs in mind. A starting MSW job will likely place you in the 45-55k range, whereas an OT will likely start at 65-70k. Best of luck!
     
    skywalking1990 likes this.
  8. singasongofjoy

    Psychologist

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    ...also, def consider the cost of the school. There are many excellent programs that are less expensive than I hear about Columbia and NYU.
     
    skywalking1990 likes this.
  9. skywalking1990

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    Thank you! I still have one remaining pre-requisite if I did go for OT. So I will go ahead and take it. I will not withdraw from CU but rather I think I will defer my acceptance. In case, OT doesn't work I can still complete the MSW program. Sounds like a good plan of action.

    Also this last pre-req makes me a bit nervous so doing well will be where my focus is at now.

    Also, I hear that starting for MSW isn't that great but it goes up after licensure and even more so with private practice...so being a social worker isn't all that bad but I do see where OT would be less stress in the long run.
     
  10. skywalking1990

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    Yes, I applied to Hunter College (much cheaper) for MSW got an interview but the interview was not so great AND I had a 101 degree fever the day of the interview...so I was not accepted after interview

    Things would have been PERFECT since tuition would have been super low at Hunter college.

    :'(
     
  11. skywalking1990

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    The only jobs I am finding with psychology are retail, restaurants, and case management positions that are HELL...so I really would like to get back to school ASAP
     
  12. skywalking1990

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    I would love to hear from more of you guys...anyone else that can relate?

    Any SW's out there? OT's?
     
  13. Salvador

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    Hi.
    It sounds like you've be better off with OT based off your need to start a family and taking care of your parents.
    Personally, I'm in 2nd year of MSW program and my background is in addictions, so I've been working in the field for a while. Burnout is a reality, whichever path you choose to take, practice some self-care
     
  14. skywalking1990

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    Thanks Salvador! Do you enjoy your MSW program? Also, the reason I even looked into an MSW program is because I genuinely like psychology too and feel like there is a lack of SW's/mental health professionals in the community that I am part of. Also, salary-wise doesn't salary go up with more experience and a msw/licensure?
     
    #13 skywalking1990, Dec 7, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  15. skywalking1990

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    I forgot to mention-MS in OT would take me a bit longer to complete.
     
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  17. Salvador

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    I absolutely love it. I'm going to USC doing their 6 semester traditional track, specializing in Adults and Healthy Aging (Mental Health). Just like you, my undergrad was in Psychology and I really loved that too. I guess we all choose our profession based off our life experiences. For me; I'm a veteran and want to give back to the veteran community. For me, the fastest way I can achieve is the route of social work, specifically the MSW. As far as salary goes, it does increase with experience and certainly with location. Medical Social Workers will make considerable more than those working in non-profits, but again, it's based off you and what you want to do with the MSW. The MSW in general is a very flexible degree, and you can work in most settings, especially if the uni you choose takes a generalist approach.
     
  18. skywalking1990

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    That's great!

    I do think there are a lot of options with an MSW. Especially for those that like to move around a lot. I have a lot to think about this weekend in regards to career.
     
    #16 skywalking1990, Dec 8, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
  19. Goobernut

    Goobernut LCSW-P

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    I love what I do, but I have a special place in my heart for OTs. OTs are a mix of social worker/PT and they really do unique work.

    Honestly I think it’s easier to make higher yearly salaries as an OT. there is some overlap in income, but anything medical seems to make more out of the gate.

    However, I freaking love my job and I don’t really want to be an OT. So there’s that.

    Let us know what you decided!
     
  20. beestrng

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    Pay is high compared to SW but there are issues with productivity rates that may stress you. There are new reimbursement changes that may affect pay so keep that it mind. SW has more potential with mental health compared to OT.

    OTs are more hands on than MSW so make sure you are willing to teach activities to clients like bathing, toileting and other hygiene issues if want to be an OT.

    Not sure what you mean with respect. Not many people know what OT is and clients think we are there to help them get a job. Many clinicians like nurses think we are glorified CNAs... Here beetrng take client xyz to the bathroom.

    Make sure you know what OTs do in the field by volunteering with an OT as it is still very different from SW.

    edit-Become an accountant then CPA. Cheaper tuition, pay is good and its in demand.
     
  21. Li_Lo

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    I feel your pain - this is a tough choice. I am an OT - I thought it was my dream job but I am actually contemplating going back to school for MSW. There are many things to love about OT and if you can deal with the negatives then you will probably like it. My dissatisfaction stems from unrealistic productivity requirements, lack of stability and flexibility in some settings, and the job market in my area. If productivity was how much time you spent doing your job I wouldn’t have an issue with it. Unfortunately, productivity is how much you can bill. Need to find something for your patient? Not billable. Need to do paperwork? Not billable. The expectation at many settings in my area is 90% for OTRs - so in an 8 hour day you are supposed to be billing 54 minutes of every hour. So the 48 minutes you are allotted in your day to do your job but not be billing is supposed to be time to get all of your paperwork done, taking patients to and from their rooms if you don’t have a tech that can do that - lots of therapists make everyone walk or push themselves in their wheelchair to their room to get more minutes . What I saw an awful lot of was therapists putting their patient on an arm bike for 20 minutes while they did notes and paperwork. That is not what I went to school for. This is seen mostly in your skilled nursing facilities - I enjoy the geriatric population but unfortunately therapists make the facility a lot of money so basically every morning meeting started with a reminder to be more productive. I spent many evenings completing paperwork off the clock so I could meet productivity. If you work in a snf that has a long term care unit when census is down you will be asked to screen residents in LTC to see if they are appropriate for therapy - in theory, a wonderful thing - unfortunately since medicare reimburses x amount of dollars per year for therapy services under part b benefits management looks at that as money that is wasted if it isn’t used. Other settings are much different - I did enjoy acute care and the productivity is still an issue but to a lesser extent than skilled nursing because of the way reimbursement works. That brings me to my next point - because of reimbursement changes hospitals lose money if they send patients to a snf - they have to share the payment with snf if they discharge someone from the hospital to the snf. Hospitals end up keeping patients longer to avoid sending them to snf to avoid losing money or sending them home. What has been happening? People coming right back to hospital after being sent home. What happens at snf? Low census because hospitals aren’t sending people. Low census = low hours. Earlier this year I had coworkers who were full time unable to get 25 hours per week. There is always some ebb and flow in census where some weeks you may be a little short and some may be over. This past year has been more extreme. I also happen to live in an area with several OT schools and the market is very saturated. When I graduated OT school there were 2 small schools for OTs. Now there are 4. I looked at a job website today and could find one full time job in a 50 mior radius. There are so many OT schools churning out graduates and in some areas the market is oversatured. If I could pick up and move I would - but I’m not able to do so. If I could go back in time I would have chosen something other than OT - however, it is a wonderful profession in many ways. My best advice to you would be to go shadow an OT in several settings - the variety is awesome. Personally I love the school setting and the mental health setting - the school job I applied to had around 40 applicants for 1 part time position. The areas of OT I am passionate about have very limited employment opportunities where I am located. When you shadow ask the therapist the pros and cons - while you aren’t going to be called in during the evening you will work holidays and weekends - unless you work in the schools. Are you willing to move? If I could move I would be able to be an OT with my dream job - but I can’t. So if the area you are in or going to school in has several OT schools be willing to move if you want more options than the snf setting I described earlier. With that said - I have a friend who works for a nonprofit snf and her productivity is in the 60s. That is a rarity so don’t think that’s common. :) if you like the more science aspect of OT then I would suggest an outpatient clinic where you will treat a variety of upper extremity conditions and see a certified hand therapist if that interests you at all. As far as the respectability of MOT to MSW - thy are both professional programs. Some of what OT does can be viewed as a glorified aide to someone who doesn’t understand what an OT does. To the nurse aides who knew i preferred adls over rote exercises for 45 minutes I was the therapist they came to and said hey so and so needs a shower - can you do that in your session. Same thing with toileting, a nurse would be in the hall and say so and so has their call light on and needs to go to the bathroom - can you do it so you can get some minutes with them because I’m swamped. While I realize most of what I’ve said is negative please don’t take it as bashing the profession - I’ve had some truly special patients where I along with my counterparts in PT and speech were able to really help someone and improve their quality of life. I didn’t do enough research before choosing OT school which certainly is my fault. With that said, healthcare has changed so much from when I went to school and how it is now that I have a truly difficult time looking at patient care as the money making cash cow it is in some settings to the extent patient care isn’t as good as it needs to be due to time and productivity constraints. Personally for me, my interest lies more in the social justice/policy/health promotion aspects of OT which has limited funding and few jobs where I’m at. So for those interests MSW would be a better fit. With that said, I know several OTs who were MSWs before going to OT school and a handful of others who were OTs that then became PAs or PTs. If you take the time to shadow OTs and MSWs in a variety of settings and ask enough questions you should know which one speaks to you more. I had a very personal family experience with an OT and nothing anyone said about OT would have changed my mind about OT school - but if I had taken more time to see OT beyond the family experience I may have realized that while it is a truly wonderful profession in many ways that my calling lies elsewhere. Good luck to you and sorry this was so long.
     
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  22. maddaddam

    maddaddam O-T-R? I don't even know 'er!

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    I'm a new grad OT, currently prepping for the licensing exam, no paid work yet. The poster above shared a lot of common complaints for OT, especially if you work in acute or SNF, and those sort of stories really made me think twice before getting my degree. Obviously I don't have as much experience, but mine has been different. My longer fieldwork rotations were in inpatient and pediatrics, where the productivity was manageable and the pacing was slow (the pay would often be less, but I enjoyed it). If you work in a government setting, productivity seems to be much less of a concern. You could try to do outpatient too, or you could apply for some MSW positions with an OT degree if you like mental health (though I've run into the issue of organizations not wanting to hire an OT because they know we can easily leave to get more money elsewhere). Point being, you have options with OT and I think before making a decision you should know what you want to do and where you want to work. It's a little hard to interview in practice areas where you didn't do a fieldwork, so it sounds like maybe you should shadow more, figure out what practice area you see yourself in, and figure out where you want to go for fieldwork. Shadowing and seeing so many happy OTs with so much control showed me that, despite the horror stories, the profession wasn't all productivity and paperwork.

    Evidently, male OTs are more likely to be put into supervisory positions quickly. There still are not a ton of male OTs, so this could be an advantage for you. If you are interested in a management kind of track, maybe an OTD is not a bad idea if it has some kind of leadership emphasis.

    I have to laugh whenever I see people saying 27 is old. About 25% of our class was 27+ at program entry... that's the reality of our economy, and OT lends itself to being a friendly degree for career changers. So IMO, just make a decision you won't want to undo in a couple years.
     

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