Welcome to the American Occupational Therapy Association's Checking the Pulse blog. Written by Stephanie Yamkovenko, AOTA's digital editor.
Here you will find news about occupational therapy, current health news, and more. I regularly blog about apps that clinicians can use in practice, autism issues, managing chronic conditions, wounded warriors, and more.
AOTA members receive the biweekly OT Practice Pulse e-newsletter where we share resources and news from AOTA and other sources that directly affect occupational therapy practice—curated just for members! Here on the Checking the Pulse blog, I will share even more relevant and interesting news, videos, blogs, and more.
I read hundreds of articles about health, wellness, and policy every week to find the most engaging and enlightening content for you. Blog readers can stay in the know, go beyond the news, and find out how the latest health news affect occupational therapy.
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While reading some OT blogs, I came across this post by Abby about how she knew that she wanted to be an OT. A student had emailed her the question and it got her thinking.
Thing is, Abby said she doesn’t really remember. It’s a question that nearly all college students have about basically every profession. Her advice to the student was to job shadow for as many professions as possible to find the perfect fit.
It got me thinking about all of you and how (and when!) did you know that you wanted to be an OT practitioner?
Abby linked to a post by Mama OT about how she found occupational therapy. Mama OT had one of those eureka! moments during a session at a gymnastics conference. Read it here.
So what about you? When and how did you know that occupational therapy was the right profession for you? How did you know you wanted to be an OT?
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Initially, it was my mom's desire to push me into getting into OT. I resisted because I knew I had to deal with physiology and anatomy- two of my weaker subjects. When I got into OT school, I had no clue what OT was about yet... as all I knew was it was a field that could help a variety of people. But my diagnosis probably changed everything. I got to understand how powerful a position I can be in if I work hard to accomplish my goals. Although I did not accomplish every one of my goals, I knew I got some important ones- getting my masters and OTD and getting my license. As recent as 4 years ago, I wouldn't have thought it was possible. So, to be where I am today as an OT that is getting more recognized across the globe, this is something I would not trade for anything... even though I would have wanted some tangible honors and recognitions to show for what I do and the hard work I put in to transform myself from a rar rar guy to a professional who is not afraid of bright lights. After all, I am not only doing this for myself, but also for the global autism community too.
I was unemployed and was taking my mom to chemo treatments when I interacted with people that were there to help my mom. Some had an attitude that was like "I can't wait till 5 o'clock when I can leave" and others actually cared about and connected with my mom. I remembered way back to college when you take a test to tell you what you should be and one of them was OT. I decided then and there that I wanted to be one of the caring people who made a difference to people and make sure that they felt like someone was listening to them and helping THEM! I graduated 2 yrs ago as a COTA and have absolutely love what I do...everyday. Sometimes I think I should have started when I was younger but I know that I needed to wait and experience life to be able to relate to people on a level that is not superficial. I needed to experience pain in order to connect with what they're going through.
I began my journey in 2006 when I decided to live a healthier lifestyle and determined that my then profession (IT) was not a career that I would be happy with all of my life. I lost 100 pounds over the course of 2 years and started going back to school part time to complete the prerequisite courses I needed to apply to the BA of Health and Kinesiology program at UT Tyler. My end goal at the time was to pursue a degree in physical therapy because of my father's rehab experiences following a RSD/CRPS diagnosis in the early 90's, but that all changed when my best friend survived 2 strokes in May 2010.
During my friend's recovery process, I was lucky enough to attend group and individual therapy sessions led by an OTR and a COTA at Baylor Rehab, and I decided then that occupational therapy was for me. I loved how his OT team maximized his quality of life by teaching him how to perform the typical self-care occupations that we able-bodied persons take for granted like tying shoes, grooming, bathing, toileting, and caring for his newborn son. I also liked task analysis (even though I didn't know what it was called at the time) because as an IT person I was constantly trying to find reasons why things didn't work the way I wanted them to and figuring out solutions (adaptations) to correct the problems. In order to confirm my change of heart, I also spoke with a few OTRs and COTAs and observed in different settings.
I completed my BA in 2011 and applied to LSU Health Science Center - Shreveport because of its proximity to home, recommendations of friends and OT professionals, and my experience with the faculty/staff. I was granted an interview and was accepted into the program, which was great since I only applied to one school! I began the program in May 2012 and will graduate this coming December. My education, work experience in a different profession, and personal experiences throughout my life will all serve to help others Live Life to its Fullest, and I couldn't be more happy with the decisions I've made along the way to bring me to this point.
My dad was severely burned in a work accident, and while he was in the burn unit, I kept hearing his doctor talk about the occupational therapist. I had just graduated with a BA in Political Science and was planning to go to law school, but when I met my dad's OT and found out more about the profession, I was sold. It was a life changing decision, and I'm thankful to be an OT every day!
Please share your story with me! In celebration of the 100th birthday of the profession of occupational therapy, I would like to collect 100 stories in response to the statement, “I became an occupational therapist because ___________________________________.”
My goal is to collect stories from all over the country. Please e:mail the stories directly to me in MS Word at
firstname.lastname@example.org in the following format:
Contact E:mail ____________________________
Year of OT School Graduation: ________________
Story of how you became an occupational therapist – may be any length.
Depending upon the response, ideally I would like to publish the 100 stories in a book that would be useful in marketing our powerful profession.
~ Susan Tucker
Aboard an MSTS ship in the Pacific in the yeoman's office in 1966 I was looking through a U.S. Goverment Occupations Handbook. I had a degree in Industrial Arts Education and wanted to be in the medical field. My prayer was to be able to find a way to combine the two. When I found the description of O.T., it was as if a bell had been rung. My prayer had been answered.