Do you have what it takes to be an occupational therapist? Read on to see if you possess the qualities successful occupational therapists have.
If you’re unsure whether to pursue a career in occupational therapy, you may want to continue reading. Occupational therapy is a very challenging, yet very rewarding field. Like any other profession, however, it may not be the right choice for you.
There are many reasons why OT may not be for you. For example, if you don’t like to work hard, if you’re not creative, compassionate, and patient, occupational therapy is definitely not the field you want to enter.
Hard Work & Competition
First, getting into an OT program is difficult. Competition is fierce, and most who apply for such programs do not get into them the first time they apply. Why is this?
If you are not willing to work hard, you will definitely not be accepted into a reputable OT program. Most OT programs require lots of volunteer hours, and most programs do not specify how many volunteer hours you need in order to show you are serious about pursuing this career.
Occupational therapists go through hell and back to get to where they are, and it all starts before school. If you are not willing to commit to the field before you even get into a program, you may want to pursue another career. Let’s put it this way: serious occupational therapy students typically volunteer for 80 hours or more before they even consider applying to a school.
Now, some programs will tell you off the bat you’ll need a minimum of 30 volunteer hours. But that’s the minimum, and prospective students applying to an OT program will usually be overseen by selection committees comprising other students who have gone above and beyond to show they should be chosen for that program.
While there are over 300 OT and OTA programs in the United States, only an average of 15–20 students are chosen for each program. And because OT is a growing field, many programs are receiving hundreds of applications each year. So ask yourself, why should you be chosen if you’re only willing to complete the minimum amount of work required?
Here at OTCareerPath.com we advocate getting more males into this female-dominated profession. Occupational therapy could definitely use a gender-diversity facelift. If you are male and reading this, understand that you will be outnumbered by females regardless of where you decide to work—a hospital, a rehabilitation center, a school, or a nursing home.
If you cannot handle this, you may want to consider another career. Just remember though, OT is in no way a “girly” profession.
Your personal traits may be another reason occupational therapy is not for you. If you are not organized and good at multi-tasking, or if you are easily frustrated or lose patience quickly, you will definitely want to consider a different field. Occupational therapists deal with a variety of people who have a variety of different problems.
While some patients will be easy to work with, others will not be. Having patience is key to being a successful OT. You cannot allow yourself to become frustrated with your clients, because each client will learn at a different pace.
You will need to possess organizational skills to succeed with every client. If you cannot multi-task, you will find yourself struggling every day. And if you are struggling, what do you think your clients are doing?
Brandi Breitbach from Red Door Pediatric in Bismark, ND says, “I have found that occupational therapists, in general, are a very organized group of people. Multitasking is extremely important in occupational therapy, so maintaining an organized environment is key. Being proactive in solving problems is a very useful habit as well; being able to think on your toes and be in the moment with anything that may arise is extremely beneficial. Successful occupational therapists are typically upbeat, smile a lot, and have a motivational quality to their interactions with others.”
With all that being said, it’s okay if you change your mind about becoming an occupational therapist. You and the OT field may both be better off if you choose another career, especially if you do not possess the qualities described above.
However, if you do have what it takes, you should give it a go. Occupational therapy is a growing branch of the medical field that needs individuals who are excited to go to work every day, and who are excited about making a difference in the lives of others.
Still undecided? Learn why others have chosen to become occupational therapists.