Meet Erin Speth. Erin recently graduated from Drake's Occupational Therpay Doctorate (OTD) program in 2020! During her last year in the OTD program, Erin accepted a job as a certified occupational therapist with Across the Board Therapy, an outpatient pediatric clinic in Navarre, Florida.
I have a caseload of kids I’m responsible for treating each week. Some of my other responsibilities include finding interventions that are motivating to each child, assessing and grading the activities when needed, collaborating with other therapists and completing documentation (daily notes, progress notes, discharge summaries etc.). Most of my treatment sessions are currently in the afternoons so I’m also working on building my caseload by completing evaluations in the mornings.
The creativity I get to use when coming up with new activities/games for kids that they find motivating and fun. I love that kids get to learn through play.
It’s impossible to fit everything in one lecture or even in one semester. However, the combination of labs, observations, hands on clinics, independent studies and volunteer experiences provided a variety of opportunities for us to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom to the real world.
I began the OTD program wanting to work in pediatrics. As we progressed into our second semester, I learned there was an opportunity for OT’s in the NICU and that became my focus. However, throughout grad school I had a part time job at a daycare. As I was learning more about early development at Drake, I realized there was a gap/need in early childcare. Children ages 0-5 spend majority of their time in daycares and more often than not, the individuals employed have little knowledge of developmental milestones and ways to help these children flourish. One of my career goals is to hopefully help bridge that gap in childcare services so children receive all the support they need to succeed in their future.
What an occupational therapist does is usually a surprise to individuals. OT’s help with those everyday activities that you don’t really think about until you can’t do them anymore such as eating, toileting, dressing, bathing, safety in the home. OT’s adapt those activities and help you learn to perform them again. OT’s want to improve an individual’s quality of life and help them return to what’s meaningful to them. Many people are also surprised to learn that occupational therapists can provide services throughout the entire lifespan. There are OTs in the NICU all the way to OTs in hospice care and every stage of life in between.
I don’t believe you will ever regret your decision to pursue this career. I can’t speak for all OT’s but I think many would agree that it often doesn’t feel like a “job”. We look forward to the challenges and are always eager to learn new concepts. Being able to help others reach their goals is also incredibly rewarding.