Every year, the month of April is dedicated to recognizing occupational therapists who devote themselves daily to helping patients reach their full potential through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. To celebrate National Occupational Therapy Month 2019 and our amazing occupational therapy team at Chatham Orthopaedics, we have asked a few of our OT’s to give us some insight on what they love most about their career. From the creative techniques they use to help patients recover to the joy they see on patients’ faces when they accomplish their goals, here is what some of our OT’s have to say about the occupational therapy profession.
Alison Walmsley, OTR/L, CHT, CLCP
“As I reflect upon the almost 25 years I have practiced I can think of so many reasons why I love being an OT- Occupational Therapist.
I cannot decide which moments are the most fulfilling in this career because my days are filled with moments of positive outcomes. Is it helping someone following trauma be able to regain functional use of badly injured arm, watching the joy of the patient experience the return of a traumatized nerve, or hearing a patient tell me they slept well for the first time in weeks due to a pain relieving technique they implemented?
My days are filled with creativity, laughter and optimism of what the next day will hold for our patients. As an OT I am able to envision the master plan of the skilled surgeon and assist patients to achieve their greatest outcomes. Many days I am able to guide people to relief in their most uncomfortable moments. I have the opportunity to help empower people to succeed and make positive decisions regarding their health and future.
I truly enjoy working with patients, staff, coworkers and surgeons who enjoy being at the top of their game every single day. I enjoy education and occupational therapy has always provided me the opportunity to learn, create and teach on a daily basis. I enjoy solving problems to find meaningful solutions for patients and coworkers.
In summary, occupational therapy is an engaging career where no two days are the same. However, the same characteristics of excellence, education, and positive decision making are what make this job extremely fulfilling each day for me.”
Lindsay Shaffer, OTR/L
“I love being an occupational therapist because I get a chance to make a positive difference in people’s lives. I enjoy being able to guide and assist people through the recovery process after an injury.
It is rewarding to witness people regain their independence throughout their lives whether it is being able to button their shirts, wash their hair, or operate tools to be able to go back to work.
No two days are ever the same, but I still see people succeed, big and small, at the end of every day.”
Sara Simmons, COTA
“Interacting with humans, creativity, problem-solving, educating patients, collaborating with intelligent and motivated colleagues – but the thing that truly lights me up – the patients. I encounter inspiring, dedicated people who are determined to maximize their wellbeing despite some very catastrophic conditions. On a daily basis, I am awed by the incredible strength of the human spirit to persevere and adapt to unfavorable circumstances.
As OT professionals, we have the skills to help people in all aspects of life— physically, emotionally, spiritually. Patients that come through our doors are suffering on many levels and seek guidance back to their desired state of life. In OT, we have autonomy to personalize treatment plans to custom fit the needs of each individual’s rehab journey.
Our ultimate goal is for patients to return to meaningful, enriching lives. Everyday, (several times a day) I ask myself – what tools can I pass onto this patient that will propel them to the next level of healing? And I get to be creative, collaborative and experimental in formulating the answer to that question, but ultimately the rehab process comes from within each patient. Patients do the work – they continue to show up, dig deep into their souls and press on through pain, defeat, disappointment into the land of big successes and optimism. My role is to shed light on the path to healing, provide guideposts, celebrate progress and redirect when we are off course.
Christopher Reeve once said, ‘A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.’ My heroes walk through the doors of our clinic everyday.”