Do I have the right personality to be an OT?

I have to tell you guys, my favorite questions from blog readers are in regards to things like anxiety, personality, etc. Personal issues. When prospective students ask me things like what is the difference between PT and OT I get a little frustrated because it can be found out through exploration. But when someone writes me and tells me their fears/worries/concerns about being an OT, it really means a lot to me. I was scared too. I have all sorts of anxiety issues and it’s definitely been a challenge for me, but I love what I do. I just need a lot of downtime to make up for the psuedo extroversion…lol.

Question received form a prospective student:

My first question has more to do with the type of personalities that work well with OT. I would like to start off and say that I recently discovered the profession of OT — I am embarrassed to admit I did not know it existed before. However, when I found out what being an OT entails I already got the intuitive feeling and “chill” that I knew this would be something I would love and feel passionate about on a daily basis, something I could really see myself doing for the rest of my life (as super cheesy as it sounds). I still feel that way especially since I always knew that my life goal is to help people on a more personal level. I have even had many daydreams of doing missions or volunteering abroad in developing countries, so I know that the passion for being an OT and helping patients is there. However, I have a little bit more of a shy personality, it is not too bad — I am just more of an observer in the beginning of new situations until I feel comfortable (takes several days, nothing too drastic). I know this is probably a silly question but I also know how extroverted people excel easily and more quickly in patient related occupations as opposed to introverts like me. Do you think there is a “typical” OT personality that mainly includes more extroverted people?

Okay, now on to more of a normal question :-P. When it comes to OT schools and programs– does the ranking of the program really matter when it comes down to it?

My answer:

Rankings wise, no, it doesn’t really matter as long as you have the drive and initiative to make the experience good. The school is just a vehicle, you are the one that will make it worth it. Obviously a good school high in rankings might be better than other schools, but if you don’t have time or resources to make it happen, just go to whatever school you can.

Regarding personality – I consider myself an introvert. I’m shy too, believe it or not. I do also like to have a few days to kind of figure out what’s going on before I speak up. You will definitely be challenged to be an introvert in the OT world, but it is 100% doable, you will just be out of your comfort zone at times.

Addition: (I didn’t put this in my email to her but I just reread the question and saw something I missed). There will definitely be people that tell you that there is a typical OT personality, and yes, life in a patient-centered healthcare field is certainly a little easier energy-wise if you are an extrovert, but even as an introvert you can be a wonderful OT and love your job. Just know your own strengths and weaknesses and find a job – there are so many options – that will allow your introversion. IE, perhaps don’t sign up for a job doing lots of big groups!!

Jul 17, 2012 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: 2