Meet Mariah Roe. Mariah is a 2020 grad from Drake's Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program! Mariah now works as an occupational therapist for Millennium Rehabilitation & Consulting Services, Inc. In this role, she splits her time between three long-term care/skilled nursing facilities: Westview of Indianola Care Center, Azria Health Winterset, and Winterset Care Center North.
I work with individuals residing in the care centers, as well as outside individuals who stay at the facility for therapy post-hospitalization prior to returning home. In addition to assisting individuals in returning to their activities of daily living (dressing, toileting, grooming/hygiene tasks, etc.), I also prescribe functional maintenance programs to ensure residents' functional abilities do not decline between episodes of therapy. Since I am the only OTR at my facilities, I complete all of the evaluations, progress reports, and discharges for each individual on our caseload.
I love the population that I serve. I also enjoy my coworkers and the flexibility of creating my own schedule.
Drake prepared me for this role by teaching me the foundational skills of the profession, as well as allowing me to build connections with my professors and other professionals who I can reach out to when facing a challenge in treating certain conditions, etc.
Yes. When I first started the program, I thought I was interested in pediatrics or neurorehabilitation. Towards the end of my didactic coursework, I became interested in mental health. I am still very interested in mental health and I have been able to incorporate the techniques and interventions I learned during my capstone at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in the Adult Mental Health Unit to assist residents in coping with their mental health struggles along with their physical illnesses.
I think that the most surprising thing about the field is how different the role of the OT can be in different settings. Throughout my clinical rotations and job experience, I have worked in a rural hospital, outpatient neuro, inpatient mental health, and LTC/SNF. Although there are similarities among the roles of the OT in each setting, there are specific skills and approaches that will be utilized more or less often than others. Additionally, it is surprising how many settings OTs do work in, such as schools, workplaces, prisons, and homeless shelters.
My biggest piece of advice would be to observe in as many settings as possible. OT is a wide field and is kind of a "gray" profession in terns of scope and practice and, since it's a relatively new profession, there are lost of opportunities for growth and program development in various settings, Going into it with an idea of what's out there and which settings you like can help set a clearer path for you, especially as you participate in your Independent Study and Capstone experiences.