LadyWants2BeOT

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2015
9
13
Hi there SDN,

I have been on here since I applied to OT schools, but needless to say, I got into grad school and am now working as an OT. Before I start, I want to preface this by saying OT is a great, rewarding career option for many people! Unfortunately, I am not one of those people and am contemplating career changes. I wanted to a compose a list of reasons why you shouldn’t become an OT for those looking to join the profession. There is a lot of information why to become one but not so much of why you might not be a good fit for the career.

1. You’re not a natural helper

-You might call yourself a “people person”, but being extroverted and enjoying time being around people is different from being a “helper” type. There has to be something in you that LOVES helping others. How do you know if you naturally love helping others? Well, you volunteered all the time in high school and college (not to build your resume but because it was rewarding to you in a very genuine way). You’ve possibly contemplated other helper type careers like nursing, social work, doctor, etc. If you don’t naturally love volunteering or being the one your friends call to help with their problems, you’re not a helper type.

2. It seemed like logical choice.

-Maybe you’re nearing the end of college, but still have no idea what you want to do (THIS IS NORMAL!) but you get nervous about what will happen after. You look up best careers of 2019 bam “occupational therapy.” Maybe you’ve heard of it once or twice and you still think to yourself “is that like finding people jobs?” You watch a few YouTube videos, read some articles about OT and start to understand it better. It’s a career that proposes a very flexible path (do you work with kids, adults, sports, mental health??) with a clear path to becoming one (grad school). It sounds great to someone who still doesn’t truly understand what they want out of the workplace but thinks of themselves as a people person. All you have to focus on is getting into and paying for grad school. You can figure out after if you want to work with kids or adults. ... don’t jump into OT as your answer.

3. You’re not independently motivated

-You’re a procrastinator. You need set deadlines to get things done. You do better when there is an external reward (for example, letter grade, higher GPA, etc). There are not many external rewards in the OT field. There aren’t many salary increases, promotions, or a manager who is telling you exactly what to do. In fact, sometimes the job roles aren’t clearly defined which can make it really difficult for someone who already has difficulty independently organizing and prioritizing their day. Sure, most people are going to be like “I don’t care about salaries or raises! I’m looking for a rewarding career!” If you’re coming right out of college, you don’t know your work ethic that well. Take time to be honest with yourself about what MOTIVATES you, and it is OKAY to admit if it isn’t helping others! If it is the external rewards, a bit of competition, the goal of “getting in somewhere”, then OT isn’t for you.

4. You aren’t an athletic / active person

-You have no interest in going to the gym in your free time. You don’t prepare green smoothies. You’d prefer to watch the marathon rather than being in it. I’m not saying you have to be super fit or anything, I’m just saying if you enjoy being really active everyday and take interest in your health. Yeah, yeah everyone is going to be like “I like being active! I don’t want a boring desk job!” But are you currently active? Do you run regularly, work out or any other kind of vigorous activity 3-4x per week and LIKE doing it? OT is an “on your feet” kind of job. And sure you find ways to be less active with patients as you get into it, but OT does require heavy lifting, good coordination, and safety awareness of your own body. I’m a naturally clumsy person so it was a shock to realize how aware I always need to be of my body with patients which can be physically and mentally exhausting. If you aren’t an active person, you will feel the burnout.

5. You’re not really interested in OT

-You may still be trying to figure out if you really like OT. You’ve done some observation hours but that’s mainly to check it off the application list. When you’re at observation hours, ask if there are research articles they recommend you reading. As an OT, you constantly need to be reading new literature and using best practices by incorporating evidence into treatments. You can be a lazy OT and not, but you’ll start to find your job boring. If you enjoy what you do, you’ll naturally want to read those articles. Patients deserve the best practice of care. If you don’t think you’ll really love being an OT (REALLY GET TO KNOW YOURSELF BEFORE JUMPING TO THAT CONCLUSION), don’t do OT. You’ll be happier doing something else, you will have saved money and time by not going to grad school, and patients will be better suited with someone who really cares about what they do.


Also some advice, if you’re coming right out of college, don’t go straight to grad school. Take a different job for a year or two while slowly working on getting to know your work needs. Unless, you’ve know for a very long time that you wanted to be an OT, you shouldn’t jump into a career, especially one that requires grad school, because it seems like a good choice. And also, it is never too late to change careers :)
 
Last edited:
Aug 13, 2018
53
41
Texas
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Some people may find this disheartening but I really think this is a great post for everyone to take into consideration. I definitely thought of basically all the things you listed and did not have a clear path to OT. I considered a few other health professions before confirming that OT was truly the right field for me! I have been out of undergrad for about 2 years now and used that time to really observe and figure out if it was my true passion..and I know in my heart that it is. I'm confident that I will make a great therapist not only because of my knowledge and understanding of OT, but because of my character, my abilities, and my love for outreach and service to others. I'm sorry to hear that it doesn't fit you but I wish you the best of luck in finding your match!
 
Sep 28, 2018
34
18
Hi there SDN,

I have been on here since I applied to OT schools, but needless to say, I got into grad school and am now working as an OT. Before I start, I want to preface this by saying OT is a great, rewarding career option for many people! Unfortunately, I am not one of those people and am contemplating career changes. I wanted to a compose a list of reasons why you shouldn’t become an OT for those looking to join the profession. There is a lot of information why to become one but not so much of why you might not be a good fit for the career.

1. You’re not a natural helper

-You might call yourself a “people person”, but being extroverted and enjoying time being around people is different from being a “helper” type. There has to be something in you that LOVES helping others. How do you know if you naturally love helping others? Well, you volunteered all the time in high school and college (not to build your resume but because it was rewarding to you in a very genuine way). You’ve possibly contemplated other helper type careers like nursing, social work, doctor, etc. If you don’t naturally love volunteering or being the one your friends call to help with their problems, you’re not a helper type.

2. It seemed like logical choice.

-Maybe you’re nearing the end of college, but still have no idea what you want to do (THIS IS NORMAL!) but you get nervous about what will happen after. You look up best careers of 2019 bam “occupational therapy.” Maybe you’ve heard of it once or twice and you still think to yourself “is that like finding people jobs?” You watch a few YouTube videos, read some articles about OT and start to understand it better. It’s a career that proposes a very flexible path (do you work with kids, adults, sports, mental health??) with a clear path to becoming one (grad school). It sounds great to someone who still doesn’t truly understand what they want out of the workplace but thinks of themselves as a people person. All you have to focus on is getting into and paying for grad school. You can figure out after if you want to work with kids or adults. ... don’t jump into OT as your answer.

3. You’re not independently motivated

-You’re a procrastinator. You need set deadlines to get things done. You do better when there is an external reward (for example, letter grade, higher GPA, etc). There are not many external rewards in the OT field. There aren’t many salary increases, promotions, or a manager who is telling you exactly what to do. In fact, sometimes the job roles aren’t clearly defined which can make it really difficult for someone who already has difficulty independently organizing and prioritizing their day. Sure, most people are going to be like “I don’t care about salaries or raises! I’m looking for a rewarding career!” If you’re coming right out of college, you don’t know your work ethic that well. Take time to be honest with yourself about what MOTIVATES you, and it is OKAY to admit if it isn’t helping others! If it is the external rewards, a bit of competition, the goal of “getting in somewhere”, then OT isn’t for you.

4. You aren’t an athletic / active person

-You have no interest in going to the gym in your free time. You don’t prepare green smoothies. You’d prefer to watch the marathon rather than being in it. I’m not saying you have to be super fit or anything, I’m just saying if you enjoy being really active everyday and take interest in your health. Yeah, yeah everyone is going to be like “I like being active! I don’t want a boring desk job!” But are you currently active? Do you run regularly, work out or any other kind of vigorous activity 3-4x per week and LIKE doing it? OT is an “on your feet” kind of job. And sure you find ways to be less active with patients as you get into it, but OT does require heavy lifting, good coordination, and safety awareness of your own body. I’m a naturally clumsy person so it was a shock to realize how aware I always need to be of my body with patients which can be physically and mentally exhausting. If you aren’t an active person, you will feel the burnout.

5. You’re not really interested in OT

-You may still be trying to figure out if you really like OT. You’ve done some observation hours but that’s mainly to check it off the application list. When you’re at observation hours, ask if there are research articles they recommend you reading. As an OT, you constantly need to be reading new literature and using best practices by incorporating evidence into treatments. You can be a lazy OT and not, but you’ll start to find your job boring. If you enjoy what you do, you’ll naturally want to read those articles. Patients deserve the best practice of care. If you don’t think you’ll really love being an OT (REALLY GET TO KNOW YOURSELF BEFORE JUMPING TO THAT CONCLUSION), don’t do OT. You’ll be happier doing something else, you will have saved money and time by not going to grad school, and patients will be better suited with someone who really cares about what they do.


Also some advice, if you’re coming right out of college, don’t go straight to grad school. Take a different job for a year or two while slowly working on getting to know your work needs. Unless, you’ve know for a very long time that you wanted to be an OT, you shouldn’t jump into a career, especially one that requires grad school, because it seems like a good choice. And also, it is never too late to change careers :)
Hi LadyWants2beOT!

I agree with delta-ot that this is a great conversation to spark. If anything, I think this confirmed that I am on the right path! Thankfully, I took a few years off after undergrad and learned so much about the workplace and what I need in a job/career to satisfy me.

If you don't mind me asking, what area in the U.S. do you currently live in? My Bachelor's degree is in Psychology and I work at a psychological research foundation. What we do is administer tests to individuals to help determine what their aptitudes (natural abilities) are and what careers might fit their combination of aptitudes. Often times, when considering careers, people evaluate their interests, personality, wants, etc. but the missing piece ends up being what abilities come naturally to them. This is extremely important because you can pursue a career merely based off of interest, but soon become frustrated because the tasks might not come easily to you. For instance, if you love the medical/healthcare field, you might decide to become a doctor. But, what if you discover during OCHEM that you can not visualize or understand biochemical processes, you might become disheartened. We would be able to summarize your pattern and help you analyze how your natural thinking fits within the medical/healthcare field. For instance, we might suggest that the person who we predict will struggle with more technical science classes should pursue public health where the focus is on educating and communicating to the public about general health risks rather than analyzing micro bodily processes.

Occupational therapy is actually a field that fits me based on my aptitudes and I can see why more and more every day. If you're interested in testing, I'd love to share more info.
 
Sep 26, 2017
20
13
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Great post title... it's a nice hook. All the points you've listed are great insights.

I'm sorry to hear you are not satisfied with OT and are looking for a career change. What direction are you thinking of heading? And what about OT has made you feel that way besides mentioned clumsiness?

I feel like I read somewhere that humans are grossly inept at predicting what will make them happy. Often what we strive for is often tainted by our rose-colored glasses, and be that they are significantly opaque, we confront disillusionment once we attain that thing that should have made us happy. As a second career person, while my former vocation was great, after half a life of being some other identity, my feelings and desires changed. It's taken years to admit that evolution was required to grow. It happens. C'est la vie!
 
OP
L

LadyWants2BeOT

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2015
9
13
Great post title... it's a nice hook. All the points you've listed are great insights.

I'm sorry to hear you are not satisfied with OT and are looking for a career change. What direction are you thinking of heading? And what about OT has made you feel that way besides mentioned clumsiness?

I feel like I read somewhere that humans are grossly inept at predicting what will make them happy. Often what we strive for is often tainted by our rose-colored glasses, and be that they are significantly opaque, we confront disillusionment once we attain that thing that should have made us happy. As a second career person, while my former vocation was great, after half a life of being some other identity, my feelings and desires changed. It's taken years to admit that evolution was required to grow. It happens. C'est la vie!

Yes, completely. My self view is very different now than of who I was in college. It is always constantly evolving! I’ve actually found that some of the best students from my program were those who were changing careers into OT in their thirties and forties.

I think the reasons I’ve listed are reasons that applied to me that I was unaware of at the time. I was in my junior year of college with no clue what I wanted to do. I had a research opportunity working with older adults in assisted living cares during college, but had zero interest working in healthcare before then. I had found OT on a google search and it seemed like a good choice: some creativity, flexible hours, on my feet, working with people. However, now in the field, I realized how poorly I judged myself. What I actually enjoyed in grad school and in college was the research component and theoretical ideas, not so much the actual clinical work. I started coming to this realization after my second level II fieldwork when I was unhappy everyday. I’m still weighing options of what to do next but thinking about something in tech.
 
Sep 26, 2017
20
13
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
research component and theoretical ideas, not so much the actual clinical work.
Interesting! I sympathize. One of my reservations after observing at an outpatient clinic is how utterly boring and routine the job could become. Yes, certainly assisting patients in rehabilitation feels great, but it doesn't seem challenging in the analytical sense... which is quite a bit of who I am... figuring out the puzzle, systems, and creating/applying creative solutions. However, I have several friends in tech as developers, and their jobs are highly invested in analytical problem solving only, and I could see how that would be soul crushing. I did however shadow in small pediatrics business which was quite joyful. I could see how creativity could be utilized in that setting much more easily. Just observing for a day, I had grand ideas about different art projects for the kids or even a book of projects to compile with the OT to sell and make millions. Millions I tell you ;) In hindsight, Im not sure how realistic that is.

I wonder if a setting change would help you?

Anyways, finding a job that fulfills all aspects of desired personal growth and interest is difficult, just a like a relationship. And even if you find one that fits perfectly, all things are transient in nature. Sending prayers/thoughts/good vibes/mental reiki/pancakes that you find your path.
 
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Dec 20, 2017
194
66
Pittsburgh, PA
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Great post. I completely agree with you in that you do not know yourself and your professional work ethic in college. I suggest everyone take a gap year and figure out what their needs are. I am a completely different person than I was when I graduated. I graduated with a degree in Healthcare Administration Management. After two years of working in a "desk job" at a life LIFE program and in health insurance, many shadow hours, research into the profession and a whole lot of personal growth - I know what I want and need in a profession.

Good luck finding a job in the field that fulfills you! xx
 
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Oct 17, 2017
239
150
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
I actually read this out loud to my cohort friends today at lunch. You make some valid points, and I can totally see some people in my program not liking OT with these categories. I am lucky cause I worked other jobs before, and realized how much I was truly passionate about helping people. Hopefully some people on the fence take your advice to heart.
 
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c2902

5+ Year Member
Mar 20, 2013
228
121
Status
Occupational Therapist
I disagree with #4 - sure you need to be in general good health to do what we do all day and make sure you are performing good body mechanics when possible, but there is no need to be a gym rat or a marathon runner to do our job. At all. You don't need to go to the gym 3-4x and "love it" to be an OT. (I'm a practicing OT, btw)
 
OP
L

LadyWants2BeOT

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2015
9
13
Interesting! I sympathize. One of my reservations after observing at an outpatient clinic is how utterly boring and routine the job could become. Yes, certainly assisting patients in rehabilitation feels great, but it doesn't seem challenging in the analytical sense... which is quite a bit of who I am... figuring out the puzzle, systems, and creating/applying creative solutions. However, I have several friends in tech as developers, and their jobs are highly invested in analytical problem solving only, and I could see how that would be soul crushing. I did however shadow in small pediatrics business which was quite joyful. I could see how creativity could be utilized in that setting much more easily. Just observing for a day, I had grand ideas about different art projects for the kids or even a book of projects to compile with the OT to sell and make millions. Millions I tell you ;) In hindsight, Im not sure how realistic that is.

I wonder if a setting change would help you?

Anyways, finding a job that fulfills all aspects of desired personal growth and interest is difficult, just a like a relationship. And even if you find one that fits perfectly, all things are transient in nature. Sending prayers/thoughts/good vibes/mental reiki/pancakes that you find your path.
Sending you all the good vibes as well and am glad you enjoy peds OT :) I currently work in both home health and in a school, and had clinical experience during grad school in pretty much every fieldwork, and kept thinking well maybe I’ll like the next setting, and unfortunately it never happened. I am happy the post is giving people insight on why they LOVE or might not be right for OT. Cheers!
 
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LadyWants2BeOT

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2015
9
13
I disagree with #4 - sure you need to be in general good health to do what we do all day and make sure you are performing good body mechanics when possible, but there is no need to be a gym rat or a marathon runner to do our job. At all. You don't need to go to the gym 3-4x and "love it" to be an OT. (I'm a practicing OT, btw)
Yeah I was a little iffy on how I worded that one! I just think you need to enjoy being on your feet. I think it’s hard for someone to recognize if they’re the kind of person who truly enjoys being on their feet because I think most people would like to think that of themselves. I think a lot of people automatically assume that that is a something they are looking in a career (vs “ a boring desk job” ) but may not actually understand what that means.
 

Nonameiwant

2+ Year Member
Aug 21, 2015
60
26
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Yeah I was a little iffy on how I worded that one! I just think you need to enjoy being on your feet. I think it’s hard for someone to recognize if they’re the kind of person who truly enjoys being on their feet because I think most people would like to think that of themselves. I think a lot of people automatically assume that that is a something they are looking in a career (vs “ a boring desk job” ) but may not actually understand what that means.
I think you are completely correct on people may not know what it truly means to be on their feet all day. I'm a nontraditional applicant, and have worked many years in jobs where I am literally on my feet all day and lunch means if you can't eat in 15min or less you may not get to eat. I have had coworkers who start out and easily tire out once they realize how much they are on their feet. If you are coming out of being a full time college student and headed straight to grad school, it may be hard to know if you like being on your feet (walking around) all day, everyday.

Also it's important to note the some weeks will be harder on your body than others. At the beginning of the year I came down with the flu. I took a couple of days off work, worked one day then had my usual days off. I still don't think I gave my body time to recover and 7 weeks (along with two colds later) my body is still catching up. Also in general you could have a day that is more mentally taxing (along with the physical aspect) and you'll notice you are more tired.
 
Jan 16, 2019
14
2
Yeah I was a little iffy on how I worded that one! I just think you need to enjoy being on your feet. I think it’s hard for someone to recognize if they’re the kind of person who truly enjoys being on their feet because I think most people would like to think that of themselves. I think a lot of people automatically assume that that is a something they are looking in a career (vs “ a boring desk job” ) but may not actually understand what that means.
I’m curious what your (and anyone else’s) thoughts are on how feasible it is for people with some physical limitations/ disabilities to work in OT.
 
Feb 10, 2019
39
14
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
I disagree with #4 - sure you need to be in general good health to do what we do all day and make sure you are performing good body mechanics when possible, but there is no need to be a gym rat or a marathon runner to do our job. At all. You don't need to go to the gym 3-4x and "love it" to be an OT. (I'm a practicing OT, btw)
I agree. I actually have a physical disability and I am starting my OTD this fall. The school knows about it too. I believe I can do it and so do they!
 
Feb 10, 2019
39
14
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
I’m curious what your (and anyone else’s) thoughts are on how feasible it is for people with some physical limitations/ disabilities to work in OT.
You can do anything you can put your mind to and you will! Just like how a good OT treats their patients....holistically...whole...you are not the sum of your disability, you are so much more!
 
Oct 17, 2017
239
150
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
We have a student with autism in our cohort and I have PTSD, along with some autoimmune and neuro issues from being deployed.

I have to work a lot harder to memorize straight facts... and utilize the colleges accommodation services. Other than that.. it’s basically knowing what you can handle.
 

beestrng

7+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2010
660
161
OT costs a lot of money. Ok ROI depending on how much you owe at the end of your program. It is only going to become more expensive with the OTD. Changes in SNF and home care settings is probably going to affect income a lot. School systems are using contract companies a lot more so no PLSF.
 
May 26, 2019
15
0
Hi LadyWants2beOT!

I agree with delta-ot that this is a great conversation to spark. If anything, I think this confirmed that I am on the right path! Thankfully, I took a few years off after undergrad and learned so much about the workplace and what I need in a job/career to satisfy me.

If you don't mind me asking, what area in the U.S. do you currently live in? My Bachelor's degree is in Psychology and I work at a psychological research foundation. What we do is administer tests to individuals to help determine what their aptitudes (natural abilities) are and what careers might fit their combination of aptitudes. Often times, when considering careers, people evaluate their interests, personality, wants, etc. but the missing piece ends up being what abilities come naturally to them. This is extremely important because you can pursue a career merely based off of interest, but soon become frustrated because the tasks might not come easily to you. For instance, if you love the medical/healthcare field, you might decide to become a doctor. But, what if you discover during OCHEM that you can not visualize or understand biochemical processes, you might become disheartened. We would be able to summarize your pattern and help you analyze how your natural thinking fits within the medical/healthcare field. For instance, we might suggest that the person who we predict will struggle with more technical science classes should pursue public health where the focus is on educating and communicating to the public about general health risks rather than analyzing micro bodily processes.

Occupational therapy is actually a field that fits me based on my aptitudes and I can see why more and more every day. If you're interested in testing, I'd love to share more info.
Do you really need to know ochem in OT like that though? I took it , but dreaded that class— you’re telling me I’ll se Ochem again in OT school??
 
Sep 28, 2018
34
18
Do you really need to know ochem in OT like that though? I took it , but dreaded that class— you’re telling me I’ll se Ochem again in OT school??
Hi Snippybiscuit, the quote was "For instance, if you love the medical/healthcare field, you might decide to become a doctor. But, what if you discover during OCHEM that you can not visualize or understand biochemical processes, you might become disheartened." I was emphasizing OCHEM as it relates to the path of becoming a doctor. M.D. or D.O. I don't think it relates as much to OT but usually people understand this example because OCHEM makes it pretty clear to some people whether they should continue that long term path to become a physician or not.
 
May 26, 2019
15
0
Ok,
Hi Snippybiscuit, the quote was "For instance, if you love the medical/healthcare field, you might decide to become a doctor. But, what if you discover during OCHEM that you can not visualize or understand biochemical processes, you might become disheartened." I was emphasizing OCHEM as it relates to the path of becoming a doctor. M.D. or D.O. I don't think it relates as much to OT but usually people understand this example because OCHEM makes it pretty clear to some people whether they should continue that long term path to become a physician or not.
ok, thank you for clarifying. That’s what I thought you were referencing. But, are you saying just because a student doesn’t perform well in Ochem, it actually does means he can’t be a good doctor? — are there exceptions?