5 Job Tips Every Occupational Therapist Needs for All Intents and Purposes
April 28, 2015
There are a lot of misconceptions as to what an occupational therapist does. Let’s clear the air. In the therapy world, we look at the root word occupation a bit more broadly as activities that are purposeful and meaningful to an individual. Occupational therapy encompasses a large spectrum of holistic therapy treating psychosocial, cognitive, and physical aspects of a person including work, play, leisure and activities of daily living. In summary, an OT gets people back to doing what they like to do. Remember it this way: “A physical therapist will teach you to walk. An occupational therapist will help you put on your dancing shoes and dance the night away.”
A Career with Purpose: Keegan McKay
Keegan McKay, self-proclaimed “nerd for occupational therapy” is a life-long learner energized with passion for the field. When this foodie isn’t going to the newest restaurant in town or hanging out with his friends, family or dog Isabella, this dynamic, people-loving, South African native, Texas-bound associate is hard at work as a Healthcare Services Director for Brookdale. Promoted three times since he began his Brookdale journey in 2011, one of his biggest surprises in his new role is his opportunity to impact through educating and training therapists and managers to do their job more effectively, and in turn, improve patient care outcome and quality of life for residents.
One of the biggest reasons I love Brookdale is all the opportunity to grow. If you work hard and prove yourself, you can evolve within the company.
Keegan stresses that if you want to pursue occupational therapy, you have to possess two qualities—compassion and directness. The first quality is something you naturally have. If you’re going to work with the senior population, for example, you have to care about their stories and use them as a therapeutic tool to help improve your patient’s life. The second quality, being direct, can be developed and is crucial in educating patients on their therapy. Specifically for senior living, you need a third quality: patience. Exceptional occupational therapists can juggle all three.
Purpose for You, Too: Keegan’s 5 Tips
Occupational therapy is an extremely rewarding, flexible, and heavily sought-after profession. It’s not just treating a symptom or an ailment–it’s about treating the whole person with meaning and purpose. And while your job description is to bring intent and purpose to others, do the same for your career itself. Take note of Keegan’s 5 recommendations to becoming a successful OT.
1. Find a Mentor
Observe as many OT settings as possible to find what you prefer. Then, find and use a mentor. If you work for Brookdale, you have a major support network. Take advantage of it. My mentor was a neurotherapist, who helped me see how creative and fun therapy is but with purpose. It made me realize that it’s a career that combines science with art, psychological with physical, mind with body.
2. Continue Your Education
Immerse yourself in your study and focus on why you’re there. I’d really encourage OTs with a passion for continuing their education and enjoy research to pursue an advanced degree. We continue to need leaders in our field. Currently, I’m pursuing my Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Texas Women’s University and loving it.
3. Connect with your Alma Marter
Especially if your school is local, it’s important that you stay in touch with your university. I teach a guest lecture on different OT topics at TWU and used to interview their candidates for their master’s program to see if they were an appropriate fit for their OT school.
4. Research. Research. Then, use it.
Education shouldn’t stop when you graduate or finish a thesis. Always be researching new field trends and advances. A big focus now is on evidence based practice, so it’s critical you’re able to apply it to what you do every day.
5. Reach outside.
Get as involved as possible with professional organizations. You’ll meet many big advocates for your field who will lobby for us and make sure we can take care of our patients. I’ve been an active member of Texas Occupational Therapist Association (TOTA) and American Occupational Therapist Association (AOTA) since I was first in OT school 7 years ago.
When you get proactive about being the best you can be, success will follow.
You’ll get to experience so many rewarding moments. One of the biggest highlights of my career was when I was working with a patient, who prior to her stroke was an avid golfer. We worked carefully and strategically on her balance and strength. One day, as I hung onto her very tightly to make sure she didn’t fall, she played golf for the first time in two years. Seeing how happy she was, I remember thinking, ‘Gosh, this is so much fun! I can’t believe I get to do this for a living!’
Leadership Recruiter Spotlight: Ifedayo Idowu Daramola
April 24, 2015
Recruiter: Ifedayo Idowu Daramola
Covers: West Division – Idaho, Oregon, Washington, south California
1. Give your top 3 tips to nailing the interview with you.
Tip #1: Familiarize yourself with the community for which you’re applying. Research the market, keep up to date with industry trends and be prepared with unique insight.
Tip #2: B candidates say they are passionate; A candidates tell me why they’re passionate. Provide a personal story that ties you to your passion for the industry or department.
Tip #3: Be confident and comfortable in your own skin. Show me who you are not only as an employee but as a person.
2. What makes candidates so excited about Brookdale?
Candidates really speak to how a career at Brookdale is not just a great place to be for now; they’re excited about what the future holds with a career here. Those I speak with are usually energized by how innovative we are and by the amount of career growth possibilities we have at Brookdale.
3. Describe your biggest life lesson.
Treat people the way you like to be treated. You cross paths with all types of people from different backgrounds and never know when and where those paths will cross again.
4. Describe the best vacation you have ever had.
Thailand by far! It was an amazing experience of food, culture and relaxation. I remember waking early in the morning in Chiang Mai, seeing the sunrise, mediating and realizing how fortunate and special my life is. It was a life-changing experience and opportunity to reflect.
5. Name the teacher in school who made the most impact on your life.
Mrs. Wong, my 4th grade teacher, stands out the most. She’s taught me so much throughout grade school and has been a trusted friend as an adult. She showed me how to stand out, be my own person and proud of it. I can’t say enough about her. I am very thankful. We remain in contact. She even arranged my flowers for my wedding recently! She has great vision and ability to touch others in ways both large and small.
6. Describe the most bizarre meal you’ve ever had.
I kid you not–I once tried snake! I had to try it. It definitely was not chicken, but to be honest, it wasn’t bad either.
7. What motivates you to work hard?
I’m motivated by my family (especially my daughter, Teni). Every day I think of what I can do to make her life better. That pushes me to work harder than ever, to offer her more in her childhood than I had in my own.
8. What’s the most memorable nickname you’ve ever had?
Shorty! This is the nickname my dad has used since I was a little girl.
9. Do you collect anything?
Magnets from all the places I’ve visited
10. What can a candidate say that will bring music to your ears?
I can hear the birds singing when a candidate has passion for what they do and for those that they serve on a daily basis. Being truly passionate means you’re able to show me that passion by example without a second thought.
Brookdale Careers’ Recruiter Spotlight is a tri-weekly blog feature, where one Brookdale recruiter answers ten questions and provides resume, interview, and job tips. Click category, “Our Recruiters” to read more.Share this: