Question asked: Is it difficult to find a full-time position as an OT?
Answer: Not at all, but it may not be the area you want. If you want to work in a skilled nursing facility or nursing home or something, there are tons and tons and tons of jobs available. Jobs in pediatrics etc are definitely out there, just not quite as plentiful. But it's VERY easy to get a job in OT, even now when jobs are hard to come by. May not be quite as high a salary or there might not be a sign-on bonus or something, but for now, still lots of jobs. Wow my cat is making this really hard to type, he is sticking his skull between my hands on the keyboard. So my worry right now is not GETTING a job, but whether it will be a good job that I can learn in/enjoy….
All right y'all, I'm on the job hunt for a job as an occupational therapist somewhere between San Diego CA and the border….ideally south of La Jolla, not north. I'm looking for a pediatric position but if that fails, I'm going to look more into hospitals etc. Any leads on pediatric positions or anything else? It needs to be at least 30 hours a week with benefits. Ideally a flexible schedule but we all know that's only a dream, haha….my other dream is good mentorship 🙂 I'd like to keep working on my Spanish as it's okay but definitely no where near fluent!!
I just got back from South America this past Monday so this week I went and got my new driver's license, finishing up process of getting CA OT license, went and observed at a potential job site (but it unfortunately wasn't an ideal fit), etc….this upcoming week my goal is more job searching!
I have a few OT comments I need to work on responding to, about getting into OT school. Although a word to the wise – it's been like….4+ years since i entered OT school, so you may want to get advice from someone who more recently went through the process! 🙂
A blogger I have followed many years, Dream Mom, writes about her journey with her teenage son, who has severe disabilities. I enjoy her posts and I think her most recent post about the best toys and gifts for special needs children with severe disabilities, is an especially relevant one to occupational therapy. Maybe it will give you some ideas on toys to use in practice, or to recommend to parents. Maybe print it out. I dunno.
I don't want to copy/paste everything and I am sure she doesn't want me to either, go to the link above to read the entire post, but here is a sample:
I can't say enough good things about this product. This is a great product for special needs children who have poor arm/hand control or poor trunk control. They can knock the pins over several ways-with their hands, their head, their arms or by bumping the table. My son couldn't roll the ball but loved knocking them down by the ways I described. He loved the music it played and got such a kick out of things crashing. In addition, it was a great way to help him learn to use his hands/arms in occupational therapy by knocking the pins down.
Thanks OTs and OT students for your thoughtful responses to questions on social media. I passed them all onto the editor of OT Practice. 🙂
I had SOOOO MUCH fun in the Amazon jungle with a day/night in Peru, a day in Brazil, and a lot of time on the Amazon River and in Leticia and various islands of Colombia on the river. The Peru/Brazil stuff was all really close together as we were at the point of being on 3 borders. Pretty cool. I had MONKEYS on my head and got to hold a sloth and a bobcat and parrots and see iguanas and toucans and owls and all sorts of stuff. Oh yeah I held a tiny crocodile too. The scariest part to me were the spiders. I have pictures on Facebook and need to write up the experiences soon. Maybe this weekend?
I'm still having fun here in Bogota, observing and occasionally assisting at the rehab center with its special program for land mine victims. I met a man the other day who lost both arms in a land mine after removing something from his cows. I would be interested to watch the progression of pre-prosthetic training and post-prosthetic training in the USA as compared to here. One of the things they do here as pre-prosthetic training is make a harness for a generic prosthesis then put weight on it and have a patient wear it around to strengthen up their trunk/shoulder. My favorite patient was a man who was born with one arm that never worked and then his other was cut off in a work accident. So effectively he had no use of his arms. He was such a great guy and while he had been dealt a difficult hand, he handled it quite nicely. So far almost everyone I've met here has been soo nice. 🙂
Today I was in a small car accident – my taxi rear-ended a stopped taxi. Almost nobody has seat belts here so I flew forward and smacked my shins/elbow on the front seat (I was in back), but we didn't hit hard enough to cause me to hit the windshield or anything, thank goodness. It's so amazing and scary to think about how quickly – in a single second – your life can change dramatically. Makes me want to live in a portable bubble 🙂
I was just searching for Spanish hand-outs today, patient education materials. Ohio State University has GREAT patient education materials in general and they ahd some in Spanish but most had to do with like pregnancy or medical stuff, not rehab stuff!
We had a lady come in today, 3 months post carpal tunnel surgery, who is still having a LOT of pain in her L hand and is babying it (her non-dominant hand). She doesn't move it much because it hurts. Her scar is healing well although hypersensitive, and her hand isn't swollen or red, so it doesn't seem like its CRPS/RSD, but something along those lines. To me CRPS/RSD seems like it is directly correlated to the level of depression/anxiety a person has. The more depression/anxiety a person has, the more likely they end up with CRPS [my anecdotal experience]. I was trying to think of ways to handle her pain and I wish I had more of my OT resources here. Oh well.
C'mon, y'all, SOME of you SURELY have answers to at least one or more of these questions!! I -and the world – want to hear!! It may end up in an article and even if it doesn't it's some good food for thought 🙂 I need answers before Thursday morning!! I'm about to answer them myself. 🙂
Questions for Social Media article
How do you use social media in your practice of OT?
Do you think social media is a good thing for the profession? Why or why not?
What benefits has social media had for you as an OT? If you can provide an example of how social media has helped you, please do!
What drawbacks has it had? If you can provide an example here, please do!
For someone just getting started using social media as part of their career as an OT, what advice would you give them?
Alright everyone, OT Practice has an article in the works (not written by me) that will be about social media & occupational therapy and how it is being used in practice. I've been asked the following questions and I am allowed to share them with you all, in case you want to respond with your own answers to any or all of the questions. I will be sending on any responses I get, to the OT Practice editor and SOME – MAYBE – could end up in the article in some form. Because of space issues, editing issues, etc, who knows what the final product will look like, so don't get your hopes up. But please, please, if this topic interests you, comment on this post and/or email me at karen.dobyns attttttttt gmail.com! Remember since I moderate comments to deal with spam, your answers won't show up until I approve them, but that's usually daily 🙂 Oh and PS – if you do comment, you either need to leave ur e-mail address or email it to me, so that I can contact you if necessary. THANKS for any input y'all provide. 🙂 Answers are due by December 1st, 2010.
How do you use social media in your practice of OT?
Do you think social media is a good thing for the profession? Why or why not?
What benefits has social media had for you as an OT? If you can provide an example of
how social media has helped you, please do!
What drawbacks has it had? If you can provide an example here, please do!
For someone just getting started using social media as part of their career as an OT, what
advice would you give them?
I am copying/pasting from a Facebook note I wrote a few days ago – now it should be a little more since I've gotten to watch a few more days. Today I watched the OT start a plaster of paris mold so that a splint could be made – but I had to go before the process was complete so I could do an informational HR interview using a Skype phone number regarding a potential job! You have to be creative job hunting from Bogota, lol. I also got to watch the PT work with a 2 year old boy with a prosthetic leg he got a month ago, plus a 50+ year old man with a prosthetic after losing his leg in a landmine, and a 70+ year old lady with a prosthetic due to vascular disease. They call the LLE (left lower extremity)/RLE the “miembro inferior izquierda” or derecha, so MII or MID, I guess. Tomorrow I have to go get a yellow fever vaccination! Yikes! 🙂 I have some pics on FB I should post on the blog re OT stuff….will try to remember to simultaneously post the OT notes on both as I've been slacking on the blog. So, without further ado, here is what I wrote a few days ago – only slightly edited – as always rapid streamof consciousness so forgive errors. 🙂 Am loving the OTs!
I've been following two OTs now for a total of 18 hours now (6 days x 3 hours) – I continue to be REALLY impressed with their abilities. They make all sorts of interesting splints using yeso which is like plaster of Paris (thanks Juliet) and then it gets molded with polyethylene by the O&P lab and then gets sent back to the OTs so that when the patient comes next, its ready for the OTs to adjust on them with lighters or heat guns or whatever necessary. They also make their own copper figure 8 splints for Swan neck deformities etc. No ordering splints out of a catalog, it's all done there. They also do A TON of wheelchair measuring. I think every day they do at least a few wheelchair fittings. In this week I have seen more children with severe CP than I have never seen in my LIFE. These kids are so spastic their legs are sticking straight out in the air or their arms are sticking out behind their bodies in ways you only see in horror movies – I've honestly, in all my time at children's hospitals and OT areas and real life, NEVER seen such severe cases of CP. Maybe I am sheltered. Every single one of these children has been about 7 years old and are carried in by their parents. The OTs lay the child down on the mat and then use thick cardboard to mimic the chair and do all their measurements to submit for a wheelchair. Pretty intense. All these parents have shown so much love to their children, truly devoted, but I don't know if I'm just seeing the worst of the worst since this place is special, or if a lot of kids here just end up with extra bad CP issues due to lack of appropriate medical care/access (ie the contractures and severe spasticity that things like Botox and surgeries can alleviate). The kid today was basically doing splits in his chair, his legs were so abducted/extended.
I've also gotten to help/observe several men with amputations of their upper limb. One was born with a monoplegic arm with deformities and then his good arm was cut off in a work accident recently – so that sucks a lot since he effectively has no use of arms now except for a few inches of his residual limb. But he has a great attitude!!! Today we got to see MyoLab where the OT put electric sensors on the man's residual limb, bicep and tricep to work on isolating/increasing strength of muscles so that he can open/close his prosthetic (a myoelectric one). It lets him see the strength and the isolation, ie feedback, so he can work on it while watching the monitor. Very old school machine though, looked like TENS unit. Sorry if I didn't explain that well.
It's AMAZING how many people are walking around at this center with prostheses. Today I saw a little boy with bilateral lower limb amputations and he had this bizarre AFO/prosthesis/locked contraption that I've never seen before but it basically allowed him to stand up although his father had to move him like he was a stiff doll – kind of like when you see kids so incredibly bundled up in winter clothes they are like a unit you can push? I'm not sure what it was for, maybe just preparing him for standing up, I dunno. Plus there was like a 3 year old walking on a prosthesis in the next room, plus lots of old ladies, young men etc, all walking on the parallel bars with their prostheses in various forms of undress/cosmesis.
At this point a typical afternoon seems to be at least 1-2 wheelchair fittings, usually of children with severe CP, a pool therapy session, a splint making session, and a session of strengthening/preparing an upper limb amputation for a prosthesis. Basically every afternoon is a combination of the most difficult stuff of many different fields.
As always i'd like to be clear I'm blogging about my PERSONAL experience at ONE place, so I'm sure there are gross exaggerations or misunderstandings on my part – but overall a really neat experience. I want to try and figure out an angle so that I can submit it to Reflections of the Heart in OT Practice after I get home.
All right, time for bed….muy cansada.
So of the six blog comments I got on my most recent blog post (all very appreciated), like most of them were from people at Utica College? Unless it was like all the same person? I'm so very confused as I don't see how I'd have multiple readers from one year of Utica students. But if so, AWESOME yay. Hopefully you all knew each other were writing if so.. 😉
I've only gotten to see 3 days of rehab so far. Last Weds and Thurs aft + this Monday aft. Both days last week were rather quiet. Today was bustling. They do 30 minute sessions and try to keep it one on one as much as possible. There are two OTs there. I spoke to the director of this place and she said privacy laws are different there, I am free to write about patients as long as I don't use last names. I'm not really THAT comfortable going that far, I wouldn't even use first names unless I changed them, but it's kinda nice in some ways to not worry about that….although I guess as a patient it might suck. haha.
In the USA whenever I observed/shadowed/volunteered, it was always important to get permission from the patient first. Here in Bogota at this place, it seems like that is not as important – while they usually do introduce me out of politeness, it isn't really a request. I have to wear a long white labcoat like a doctor which kind of cracks me up. The OTs/PTs just wear scrubs but I guess they determined my volunteer uniform would be the lab coat. Haha.
The PT/OT areas are REALLY sparse. Most of the amazing stuff involves the prosthetics/orthotics area where all the prosthetics are made. They even have a really advanced GAIT lab where they can analyze people walking in their prosthetics, I need to see that in action. The day I got the tour the power was out so everyone was in the dark! lol
They have an art therapy area, a pool that they use daily for both PT/OT, and then the P and O related areas and then a PT area and OT area and then lots of offices and apparently some kind of computer lab for basic voc rehab etc. The art therapy area had an active art therapist and lots of supplies. The pool is small but usually packed. The PT area is essentially nothing but a room with a ton of parallel bars and stairs and at all times of day all you see are people walking up and down the parallel bars with their prosthetics in various forms.
The OT room has a little bit of equipment that the PTs use, a tiny desk, a tiny table, and a tiny closet room with supplies…also a tiny kid table. That's about it!! Today I saw several above-elbow amputees working on desensitizing their residual limp in preparation for prosthetics, plus a lady with serious executive functioning issues after a stroke, ie problem solving, and then a teenage girl who had some kind of TBI with R hemiplegia + visual issues.
I brought my Pendretti's OT textbook with me to the rehab center today and one of the OTs was looking through it. She was reading a paragraph on clonus and spasticity etc and she knew all the big words because they are more or less the same in Spanish, but she got stuck on the word “with”, which cracked me up. She basically speaks no English – none of them do! So that makes life hard, lol. It's nice the bigger words are mostly very similar, at least 🙂 I've noticed that for the most part, all these Spanish speaking people who don't speak English, aren't so hot at slowing down/dumbing down their words for me. Even after I explain in Spanish I don't speak much, they keep going as fast as before and with bigger words. A few are good about finding synonyms but most just give up. Eh. LOL.
One lady came in today for resting hand splints, bilaterally, for carpal tunnel syndrome due to her work as a florist. She had to take 2 buses for THREE HOURS one way to get there to get them fitted. Wow. I didnt' fully grasp the explanation of why since my Spanish isn't good enough but my friend I'm staying with thinks it was probably because of government subsidies that mean she would get them cheap/free at that place but not elsewhere. Dunno exactly. The splints that were made are originally done by the P and O lab from what I can tell – the person gets their hand molded in polyethylene or something, then it gets crudely cut/fashioned, then they come in for revisions by the OT who adds the straps and uses heat gun – or in today's case – a LIGHTER – to modify the splint as needed. I need to take a picture.
I got several comments asking about the differences between OT here and in US. So far based on 3 days I dont have much to say. And also remember i'm going off TWO OTs based on ONE place here in Bogota, and that I don't necessarily understand the system at ALL at this point. I'm not sure how insurance works here yet. So far what I've seen seems to be semi similar to USA- some cognitive work, splints, prosthetics, pediatrics, strokes, etc. Give me a few more weeks at least – I am there 4 days a week, 3 hours a day, before I say more about differences/similiarities.
I need to re-read comments and figure out what I didn't address….I know people were asking about potentially either going into Army or travelling to other countries for OT. My personal recommendations would probably be A) get at least a year or two experience before going somewhere else to try and WORK, ideally more….B) OT is going to have its pros and cons anywhere.
C) Most countries dont have nearly as many resources as the USA does…so OTs are better trained in splint making etc because they dont necessarily have somewhere to outsource issues. IE kind of like being in a rural area – you may be on your own with really serious stuff. So consider your confidence level, mentorship needs, etc, before you run off somewhere.
I *DO* think that if you have enough time/money/good plans/convenient friends, that you consider travelling abroad and staying a while – at least a month – to work on the language. You will be a much more competitive OT if you are bilingual. This is of course if its a common language like Spanish. My Norwegian has not done me much good in the USA hahaha.
I'm kind of rambling/thinking this all out loud….which is um, obvious….so never use me as your only opinion/source of wisdom….I may lead u astray. See if you can network with other OTs. I want to say there is a World Federation of OTs you can become a member of? Or ask on OT Connections, or see what you can find out at conference, etc….I definitely recommend doing a LOT of research so you know what you are getting yourself into!!
I love love love OT….do I necessarily love every component of it, or feel like I'm an expert? Heck spelled with two L's NO! But as a field….I maintain my passion for its potential. And I really wish I knew more. And I also really wish I cared enough to write succinct articulate articles about all this. But alas, that is not me. Wish it was.
LOVING the blog comments……y'all are some deep thinkers – and kind souls – out there 🙂
Time for bed! Spanish class and Rehab and hot yoga tomorrow, just like today 🙂 Necesita practicar mi Espanol!!
PS: If you befriend me on Facebook I have long notes on the trip so far + tons of pics, if you just want to see/hear more about Bogota, not OT related though….make sure you mention who you are/that you are a blog reader/a little about you if you do so though. 🙂
Haven't forgotten about my sad neglected blog. Just busy. in South America now for a while. Meeting with a rehab director soon and hope to get to volunteer/shadow some OTs. I'm leery about posting much detail just yet for safety reasons and privacy reasons. Once I get more info I can hopefully go into more detail. Still gotta work on finding a job in La Jolla CA area!!! That's been on hold but needs to get crackalackin'. Updated my resume at least. Wish I was more comfortable in phys dys and especially wish I liked SNFs (skilled nursing facilities) since that's where the money's at lol. But alas that's not where my heart is, so I doubt it. Bleh. It's 3am. I was reading the new novel “Room” which is FASCINATING. I can't remember what all the blurb says so I don't want to give anything away but at one point it does mention the best treatment for the child would be a mental health OT 🙂 A lot of really REALLY interesting sensory tidbits. I highly recommend. That's why it's 3:15am right now – because I started reading it on my Kindle at like midnight and couldn't stop until I finished it. Boooo.
I'm soo paranoid about safety while being here so I am scared to even share tomorrow (at this point, today's) agenda, but I guess tomorrow I can discuss where we were! I'd rather be safe than sorry, blah blah blah.
I miss connecting with the blogging world. I felt pretty self-empowered and excited when I was really within the OT blogging world, and I loved all the reflection/thoughts/sharing/networking that went along with it. I highly highly recommend it as a supplementary tool to your education, with caveats of course in terms of privacy etc. As I've always said I wish SOOOOOO bad I could just share all my stories from being an OT here but it's too difficult. Too paranoid about all the privacy laws, even if I do muddle stories around.
I can't remember if I just shared recently that I had an ex-patient send me a snail mail. (My co-workers gave her my addie with my blessings). She had post polio syndrome and other issues and we really bonded. She'd even do things like bring us (we had a tiny satellite clinic) extra grapes from the store! She wrote me a 3 page note just updating me on life and asking me about my own. It meant a lot to me. I wrote her back. I've often thought about her and how she was doing…but I think of all my main patients, ie all the ones I had over at least a few months time span. I've had other patients, all after discharge, either stop into the clinic to say hello, or bring small gifts (things like homemade water color painting, grapes, fresh fish from a fishing trip, etc). Probably the most unexpected thing a patient did to me this last year – was – get this – FOLLOW ME HOME FROM THE CLINIC IN HIS AIRPLANE (I was driving – he knew I lived in employee housing of the main Institute.) Quite a story. Very startling when happened but it was with good intentions…freaked me out at the time though!
Anyway. Tangent. You have to be very careful with boundaries etc when dealing with patients – you do get close when spending a lot of time with them – I appreciated the small things but most of all I appreciate just hearing how a patient is faring down the line. Just knowing how they are doing and knowing they think of me fondly – as I think of them. I can't remember exactly the ethical boundaries of gift-giving with patient/OT care- I know like it's not really acceptable to do large gifts or gifts while in the care of the OT, but my understanding is that small gifts after discharge is not illegal or unethical or anything. Bleh. Wish I could remember the laws exactly. This seems like something that would get discussed in an ethics class “Is it ethical to accept this gift under this scenario?” As I recall when we had our own ethics class we students got frustrated that there rarely seemed to be a perfect black/white answer. 🙂
I try and think back on my first year as an OT and it's all such a blur. I know the things I enjoyed most were always education-related, such as empowerment via knowledge of energy conservation, joint protection etc….like the ones with fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, etc. I remember one lady with fibro being so frustrated with all her doctor visits and the unrelenting fatigue and pain. We discussed all these principles of energy, joint protection, and how she could use these techniques/tools/devices to minimize pain, increase energy, etc. I really tried to focus on empowerment – that she was a smart problem-solver and with this knowledge, she had the power to make changes that would make her life better. That it was not her passively being “fixed” by a therapist temporarily, but her own active involvement in her own treatment. I only saw her a few times but she kept saying “This is exactly what I needed”. I knew she had a high co-pay she couldn't really afford so I tried to REALLY max out our time together. I saw her a month or so later in the waiting room (getting something from the PT) and she was glowing. She looked so peaceful and calm and self-assured. We briefly chatted and it was clear she had changed her thinking. She was no longer a frustrated victim of fibro but an empowered survivor. Not to say it was all roses from then on out, but it made a difference. Those were the cases I loved the most. I actually want to go into more detail but seeing as how it's almost 4am and I'm supposed to be up in 4 hours, I better stop.
I need to get a surge protector for my laptop – I hear here they have a lot of surges and I don't want to fry it. I also need to go to bed. Busy day coming up. I should have gone to bed sooo long ago but my brain was just so full. I just completely stream of conscious rambled this all out with no look-overs so sorry if its completely impossible to read. Just had to share. Dunno how many readers I have left but maybe there are some pieces in here that will in some way get someone thinking! 🙂 It definitely got me thinking!!
Well I am finally back in La Jolla, CA…starting the job search! I'm updating my resume as we speak – unfortunately the titles of the continuing education courses may be difficult to find. I took courses in shoulder disorders, Sae-Bo, postural control of the trunk, and modalities, and I think something else too! Gotta go look. My aunt Mary Lou was in Death Valley and mom reported she had a sock-aid. I told Mary Lou I was an OT and she said “I never met an OT I didn't like.” 🙂