My Occupational Therapy Journey into Professional Practice
I grew up with my mind set on working in pediatrics for the rest of my life. I bounced around a multitude of professions before I landed on the decision to attend graduate school for occupational therapy at Sacred Heart University. Amongst the variety of fields that I could have entered, the holistic and well-rounded approach that occupational therapy utilizes in its treatments and interventions is what captivated me. On other words, I appreciated the sensory and emotional aspect of this career path, that a person was more than their physical makeup.
What’s special about this profession is that an occupational therapist can be found in a variety of different settings, such as a hospital, school, nursing home, private-clinic, home health, hand therapy, mental health placements, community centers, homeless shelters, early intervention, etc. The list is endless when it comes to the lives of people and populations that an occupational therapist can touch. I have learned this inclusiveness over the course of my professional journey, and this concept has even further been instilled in me through my time spent at Building Blocks Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services. Building Blocks has introduced me to so many amazing children – children I wish I never had to say goodbye to. Over the last three months, no two children who came into the clinic were the same, despite a similar diagnosis or developmental delay. Each patient is treated on an individualized basis, taking into consideration that child’s personal occupational profile. This holistic and individualized approach is what separates this profession from other healthcare professions, and why it became the career I want to give my life to.
Growing up I always valued my independence, and to this day it is something I will always thank my parents for fostering in me. I have always been someone to never think too hard when it comes to doing something that makes me feel alive and excited to be alive. This desire to live a full life and to live it independently as possible is something I have learned to never take for granted. This adoration for independence that I have felt since attending The Hill School, a boarding high school in Pennsylvania, is another factor that drove me towards this career. No matter the age of the person, every individual deserves the opportunity to walk, play, obtain an education, socialize, eat, shower, etc. as independently as they can. This recognition of a person’s occupational justice is another main component of becoming an occupational therapist.
In terms of entering my level II fieldwork experience, it was nothing short of nerve-racking. My time had finally come where my books were no longer being opened to treat case-studies, but instead I would be flipping through pages to treat young boys and girls who would be relying on me to help them become functional children in today’s world. I was nervous that my Toolbox was not yet filled with all the right answers to ensure that the children I would meet over the next three months would be provided with their own tools and strategies to keep in their toolbox. However, as I quickly came to learn, my confidence would flourish each and every week, as would my creativity and instinct to treat my patients.
This experience has solidified my desire to work with children once I become a licensed professional. Throughout this experience I have learned the importance of play in a child’s life, something that seems so obvious yet was once not. Play and creativity are used hand in hand to help a child perform functional tasks of everyday life. I have noticed myself in the last few months begin to observe and analyze the behaviors of children differently. I see things differently now than I would not have merely three months ago, and I credit this to both my amazing supervisor who guided me along the way, Justine Bedocs OTL/R, as well as all of the patients who have touched my experience in some way or another. In a short three months I have been rewarded with seeing several patients make amazing milestones that once seemed so far to reach. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my career has in store for me, and who else will touch my experience along the way.
Sacred Heart University, MSOT 2020