September 30, 2017
GUEST BLOG: My Road to OT
This week’s post comes from Megan, a student majoring in Occupational Therapy. You can follow her blog posts on the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy’s student blog.
For my first blog post, I am going to share a little about how I discovered occupational therapy! Now, I would be lying if I said that I had always known that this was my dream career. In fact, I spent most of my life dreaming of becoming an elementary school teacher. This dream may have been slightly influenced by the fact that my Mom and Grandma were both elementary school teachers—but, regardless, I was confident that I would follow in their footsteps. With a love for working with children and a desire to make an impact, I figured this was the most practical career for me to pursue. However, when I began volunteering as a preschool teacher, I could not help but feel as if something was missing. I loved being surrounded by children, watching the wonder in their eyes with each new discovery—but I felt restricted by the four walls of the classroom. I found myself frustrated by the generic approach I had to take to effectively teach all children, and desired a more individualized approach. What I truly loved about teaching were the one-on-one moments with students, the times when I could truly understand and engage with each student. However, because I started volunteering at this preschool at quite a young age, my dreams about the future seemed rather premature. I decided to put all this career planning on the back-burner until something truly caught my attention.
Almost as soon as I made this decision, I stumbled upon occupational therapy. The word “stumbled” could not be more accurate—I found OT through an experience I never saw coming. In the spring of 2009, I was admitted to the hospital following lapses in memory and irregular changes in behavior. Following two grand mal seizures, I was admitted to the hospital where I was diagnosed and treated for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. While receiving chemotherapy transfusions and attending various rehabilitative sessions, I was exposed to a large variety of healthcare professionals. However, the endless support and reassurance I received from my occupational therapist has impacted me to this day. At a time where I felt so scared and helpless, she was able to bring peace. I remember feeling so triumphant when I was able to tie my own shoes or sign my name on a piece of paper. This occupational therapist was a source of light to my family in a time of such hardship. Once recovering and being discharged from the hospital, I could not stop thinking about how much this occupational therapist impacted me. I did know, however, that I wanted to be like her. I wanted to give back to others, to offer the same hope that I received all those years ago.
To be honest, I did not ever expect to find my future career this way. However, I am so thankful to have found such a fulfilling profession. I am equally as thankful to have had the opportunity to be a patient, and to have experienced firsthand how much impact an occupational therapist can have in someone’s life.
With each day I learn more about occupational therapy, I become more in love with the profession. Rather than feeling generic or formulaic, occupational therapy breeds creativity and innovative thinking. This profession is able to combine my fascination with the complexity of the human body with my utmost desire to give back to those in need, and I could not be more thrilled to be on the path toward becoming an OT!
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