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Hello! I have just completed my first college semester, and am currently enrolled in the 3+3 PT program offered at my university. Over the holiday break I decided to start shadowing, but had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time observing Occupational Therapists as well. I honestly loved what I saw of both PT and OT, and now I am unsure which one I want to pursue.

I was wondering if anyone would be able to tell me the core differences between the two? More specifically, what aspects of the patients lives you are improving, and how you go about doing it. As someone who has just started school and lacking in technical knowledge, I had a tough time identifying the fine differences between the two during my shadowing experience.

I also understand answers may vary based on job setting. (For example, I have heard Occupational Therapists in the hospital setting have responsibilities which often overlap with nursing. I'm assuming their daily responsibilities are different than the OTs I shadowed over break, who worked in an outpatient setting and spent a considerable amount of time making crafts with kids to improve motor control.)

I have read numerous threads about this topic, and know it is a popular question, but I am still having trouble grasping the primary difference between the two. I will definitely be taking more time to shadow in the future, but I still felt like this would be a good resource in the meantime.

Any information would be appreciated. Thank you!
 

YogaOT

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I would also be interested in hearing more opinions on this. The more I've read recently about OTs having trouble finding the kind of work they want to do (the jobs not always being available), the more I'm wanting to know about PT. I'm wondering how much overlap there is in practice, or if PTs have better employment options and flexibility.
 

beestrng

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Do you want to work with UE or LE? Much trigger.

No problem finding work in SNF. With my limited experience I have seen a tad bit more demand for OT. But both OT/PT have high turnover at my place. Big party for 1 yr anniversary for my OT mentor. Gift card cake etc.

OTs wanting to work in peds or school may have issues. Peds pay is low and schools seem to contract out. Home care pay is good but its a big cluster.

Probably should of went to RN school. Would of been way cheaper with the possibility to branch off and do something else.

Only thing I enjoy in OT is hands. Too bad I need a cert to practice will full pay.
 
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PreOTfromLB

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I’ve always liked to describe the work of an occupational therapist as the sensitive cousin of a physical therapist. A physical therapist can help you with gross muscle movement, an occupational therapist can help you with a range of things that help you improve your quality of life. For example, post-stroke a PT could teach you how to regain large motor function (if loss), were as an OT would help you with learning how to cook, eat or swallow (sometimes). I was attracted to both fields as well when I started looking into these professions a long time ago.

I know by and far more about what an OT does this post is definitely bias. I ultimately choose OT because I’m not only interested in just a fix; I wanted to make sure that “fix” improved their quality of life. Be it by hand therapy, feeding, learning how to cook again, learning job skills, reintegration of refugees etc. I felt OT had more opportunities to engage in a patient’s entire life.

https://www.css.edu/the-sentinel-bl...sical-therapy-diagnosing-the-differences.html
 
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dobber

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My overly simplistic description of OT vs PT:

Scenario: OH MY GOD I BROKE MY LEG, I'M A WAITER, I NEED TO WALK IN MY JOB
PT: OH HOMEBOY, IMMA HELP YOU GET STRONG SO YOU CAN WALK AGAIN
OT: OH HOMEBOY, WE WILL SIMULATE YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT WHILE YOU GET STRONG SO YOU CAN PRACTICE BEING AT WORK BEFORE D/C. YOU CAN'T STAND WHILE YOU DO YOUR ADLs? WE'LL HELP YOU THERE TOO)

Same general concept (independence), different ways of getting there (PT: gaining strength/recovering injured area to lead to independence; OT: analyzing how injury affects client's occupational performance, and what can be done to promote engagement/participation)
 
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