You've passed the NBCOT, successfully applied and interviewed for a job, and landed your first OT position! The hard work has finally paid off, and now it's time to get to work. Before you do, however, there are some things to keep in mind.
Get enough sleep
No matter how exciting it is to be finally working as an OT, resist the temptation to stay up all night celebrating with friends. You will be more alert and effective as a therapist if you make sure to get a sufficient amount of rest each night before coming in to work.
Get to know your coworkers
Hopefully, you will be around these people for a long time, so don't overlook the importance of getting to know your coworkers and colleagues, from your fellow therapists to the building janitor. You will see these people day in and day out, and even work closely with many of them, so it's important to establish a strong working relationship with them from the get-go. Besides, no one is a success by themselves, we all need the support and encouragement of those around us, and we too can offer that support and encouragement to others, no matter what age or stage in life we are in.
As a new practitioner, it can be tempting to revert back into your OT student persona. But you aren't a student anymore—you're a full-fledged, credentialed therapist, so don't be afraid to act like one! Trust in the knowledge you gained through your studies and fieldwork experiences.
…but remember that there is always more to learn
Undoubtedly you will come across some tricky cases in your first year or so of OT practice. Don't be afraid to reach out to your more experienced colleagues or favorite professors for advice and assistance when needed. You don't know everything—no one does—and it's not embarrassing to ask for help. It's better to ask questions and expand your knowledge than to avoid asking for fear of looking bad, and end up injuring someone—whether it's your client or yourself.
Likewise, keep reading and studying on your own—subscribe to AOTA and your state OT organization, and at least skim through the magazines they produce, taking the time to read the most relevant articles. OT is a broad field, and in some ways, OTs never stop being students. Remember to keep abreast of new technologies and research, it will greatly benefit you and your clients.
Occupational therapy is unique among the health professions for its broad scope as well as its focus on daily life lived well. In order to be the best OT you can be, make sure to start off on the right foot with these tips, and keep building from there.
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- Implants in Paralyzed Monkeys May Create Human Occupational Therapy Uses