9 Unforeseen Reasons I Love Being an OT

Why do I love being an OT? Here are 9 reasons that I did not not anticipate when I started out on this journey!

I am that stereotypical person who entered the healthcare field because I wanted to help people. 

But starting a career is a lot like getting married or having kids; there is no way to fathom what the journey will hold.

I still love my profession because I get to help people, but there are so many factors that contribute to my career satisfaction that I did not consider when applying to occupational therapy school.

I feel like I got lucky. 

The 9 Unforeseen Reasons I Love My OT Career

1.) Autonomy 

Yes, I work in an industry brimming with regulation, but when I begin each treatment session, it feels like the brush is in my hands.

Within certain limits, it is up to me to what value I bring to my patients during my treatment sessions.

2.) The buck does not stop here

While I love autonomy, I am also glad that I do not have ultimate responsibility over health matters.

Doctors typically sign off on our treatment plans and OT is almost always part of team approach.  

In the hospital setting where I work, if something goes terribly wrong, there is an emergency button I can push and more members of our care team will come running. 

3.) Opportunities for specialization and mastery

Lymphedema management. Women’s health. Wheelchair management. Assistive technology. Hand therapy. Myofacial release. Neonatal care. Low vision. Sensory integration.

The opportunities for specialization within OT are extensive. When I was first looking into careers, I could not fathom how long a 40-year-career could be nor the drive I would feel to keep learning and honing my skill-set.

I am thankful there are so many avenues to pursue with an OT license. Many therapists will pursue multiple specialities over their careers. 

4.) Schedule flexibility

School teachers have to teach during the school year. Nurses have to provide 24-hour care. There are obvious scheduling challenges in many helping-professions.

Luckily, therapy usually happens between 9-5 on weekdays. Due to the demand for therapy, full-time, part-time and contract positions are often available.

I never would have anticipated how sick I would get during my pregnancy. Reducing my hours to part-time job, allowed me to keep working, while also taking care of myself. 

5.) Knowing there are other jobs out there makes me happier in my current job

I receive voicemails and mailings at least weekly from OT recruiters. These keep me from feeling trapped in my job. There is great comfort in knowing that there are other OT jobs out there and, ultimately, I am making a choice to stay in my current position. 

6.) I was able to get out of debt relatively fast

I received my masters in occupational therapy and was able to get a full-time job lined up before I even passed my boards. To be a physical therapist you have to have a doctorate (more school and more debt).

There are of course many factors to debt reduction and my story is not universal, but taking on less debt in the first place is a good way to start.  

7.) The balance of new with routine

I suspect that this plays a role in why many healthcare professionals love their jobs; our work lends itself to a nice balance.

To keep us grounded, we have an established community of coworkers and certain tasks that we need to do everyday.

But, you never know who is going to be on your caseload. This variety provides new challenges and gives us something to talk about over the lunch break. 

8.) An international network

OT is a growing industry globally and it is so fun to connect with colleagues from around the world. In college, we talked a lot about becoming global citizens. I never would have dreamed that becoming more invested in my local work would lead to global connections. 

9.) My patients

This is so cliche, but I don’t even care. My patients keep me coming to work. I have been so inspired and moved by the lives I have encountered.  I can only hope that I have helped them half as much as they have helped me grow as a therapist and as a person. 


What do you love about OT? What questions do you have about becoming an OT? Please share in the comments! 


17 replies on “9 Unforeseen Reasons I Love Being an OT”

Well said. Even though I am not an OT yet, hopefully when I get accepted to my OT school of choice, blogs like these gives me drive and a positive light to what I am about to embark. Thank you!

Yes! I have been an OT for 5 years and have not regretted my choice!! There are definitely parts of working in the healthcare system that can drive you crazy, but overall it is such a joy to care for people and to watch our profession grow. Good luck with your OT school applications.

Hi Amanda! I have absolutely seen that thread– and it is scary! There is some grain of truth in the perspective. I think that many OT programs have struggled to quickly adjust to the move from the BA entry-point to Masters and doctoral programming. The demand for evidence-based care is also impacting every health profession and the scramble to respond can look messy (this is not isolated to OT!!)

You should be aware as you enter school that best practices are constantly evolving! Try to focus on developing the skill of thinking critically about the care you are delivering.

With that said, OT is a great profession. I think the demand for our holistic approach to care will continue to grow. We just need to stay diligent in our commitment to research and agile in responding to the changing demands of health systems.

I have found great personal satisfaction in being an OT. My schooling has given me the chance to partner with clients who often have very complex needs- which is what I set out to do in the first place!

Here is an older article that I wrote about OT school.

https://otpotential.com/blog/2014/11/22/honest-thoughts-on-ot-school-and-5-pieces-of-advice-for-prospective-students

I would love to know any follow-up thoughts/questions that you have.

Hi Sarah,

What an amazing place you’ve created. I’m learning a lot here. I just got offered an interview followed by an on-site writing sample. Do you know anything about on-site writing samples? What topics they usually ask? Thank you

Hi Sunny!

I love that a place is having you do an on-site writing sample! That’s the kind of business I want to work for. I haven’t heard of this being done in the context of OT jobs, but I think of it as being an old school way of getting to know potential job candidates.

I wouldn’t worry about what topic they ask about- I would guess that they are most interested in the quality of your writing, not your knowledge of a particular subject. So do your best to follow the rules of good writing– make it clear and concise. Choose words you know how to spell and sentence structures that you know how to properly punctuate. You could practice sitting down and just writing a paragraph or two before you go. Maybe write out a patient history about yourself? Or a paragraph about what you did the day before?

You can do it!

If you think of it let us know how it went! I would love to know what they asked you to write!

Thank you for the compliment on the site. I love working on it and look forward to continuing to make it better!

Hi Sarah! I’ve really enjoyed your blog. This is a second career for me (I was a former Human Resources consultant and preschool teacher), and I’ve worked in the school setting and am now in acute care. I absolutely love the variety, both with my patients and with the personalities that comprise my OT and PT partners. It’s always an adventure and there are new opportunities for learning each and every day. For every difficulty there are always more sources of inspiration, both from my colleagues and my patients. I feel so blessed to be a part of this exciting and diverse field.

Thank you so much for this comment, Shannon! I always love hearing the perspective of people who join OT as a second career! We are so lucky to have people who join our field later in life, bringing with them diverse experiences and training. All the best to you!

Hi Sarah, your articles are inspiring. Thank you. I am looking to pursue OT as a new career in mid-life. I am in my 50s, so it is a scary undertaking to consider, but an exciting one, as well. Do you have any advice or insights for someone who would be joining the profession later in life? There is absolutely a lot of age discrimination in the corporate/business world. However, it is my hope that OT is a profession where older workers are welcomed and valued for the life experiences and wisdom we can bring to our patients, including elderly patients. I would welcome any advice you may have for someone in my situation. Thank you!

Hi Carol! I am so sorry that I missed your comment and have taken so long to respond! I wanted to you let you know that I have a new post specifically about OT as a second career. Kate has been good about replying in the comments section, if you still have any questions you would like to connect with someone about! https://otpotential.com/blog/ot-as-a-2nd-career

Hi Sarah,

First, thank you so much for creating this site and for all of the hard work you put into it. I wanted to piggy back on Carol’s comment below. Do you have any advice for those of us who are older and are switching careers, especially when our past carers are not related to OT. And, of course, any thoughts you have on the dreaded GRE’s for individuals who have been out of school a long time!

P.S .If you are every looking for blog suggestions, I’d be interested to read about OT’s who are using 3D printers as part of their work.

That is such a great idea! I am literally adding it to my list of ideas right now. I have a vague memory of meeting an OT from Indiana who uses 3D printing regularly. If you know someone who uses this technology regularly and would be willing to share about their work, please send them my way!

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