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MSOT, Masters, Occupational Therapy

January 10, 2013

The MSOT is more than a logical progression for my career; it is truly natural.  While I have welcomed each new challenge with increasing creativity in my current work as an assistant speech language pathologist, I am eager to increase my depth of understanding of OT concepts for a number of reasons.

 On a personal level, I credit my mother, a single mom, and her tireless example that it is never too late to return to school, complete your education, and achieve your dreams.  Having always worked to support myself, the same determination my mother demonstrated has fueled my decision to return to full-time education, and achieve what I started many years ago.

 I count my time working in speech pathology with developing not only my clinical acumen, refining existing interpersonal abilities, and interdisciplinary teamwork abilities, but has proven to myself and others that I am treading exactly the right path.  Indeed, my path has led me to co-treating patients, enjoying the personal and professional benefits of increasing patients’ amelioration of life, and now to XXXX’s MSOT program.

 Firstly, XXXX’s MSOT program stood out to me from the background noise of other OT programs, making use of a curriculum whose breadth and autonomy rivals that of any school in the nation coupled with exceptional faculty, and accomplished student body.

 Secondly, XXXX’s location could not be more relevant to my future in OT.  It is my belief and ambition to serve the needs of the geriatric population in the border region of South Texas, filling a distinct and growing need for quality OT’s that I have seen firsthand.

 Post-graduation, I envision serving the geriatric and special populations of the border region of South Texas as a qualified OT, ideally in a rehabilitation facility.  My OT contributions would be enhanced by my foundation in speech therapy and the skills and experiences thereof.  All of this sounds so clinical, though, compared to what I have only ever wanted: to establish myself in the community as a respected, hardworking and knowledgeable therapist, one that adheres to the highest ethical standards.

 The OT does more than retrain damaged or ailing systems in the human body.  While we deal with motor-neuron functions, among other practical issues, this would be ignoring the deeper reality: how the OT touches and enhances lives, restores hope, dignity and pride in the people they work with. I especially appreciate the way that the OT uses their hands, skills and creativity to aid others during the greatest challenges of their lives.  To my mind, there is no better contribution or proof of our humanity.  The OT’s contributions go well beyond simply fulfilling a job: they add value to the lives of people by encouraging patients to better themselves physically, emotionally and psychologically, doing for themselves, challenging them and bringing them a sense of accomplishment.  The OT is the footprints in the sand for their patients, working behind them, while instilling in them the sense of doing for themselves, and carrying them only when they need the extra support.

My introduction to OT was one of a deeply personal nature.  After my grandmother suffered a stroke, it was an OT that nurtured her abilities, transforming her feelings of uselessness into confidence, and a new outlook on life.  I was left in awe of the OT’s patience and abilities, at a time when her doctors expressed uncertainty as to her ability to recover.

 As an assistant speech pathologist, it is my job, and my joy to help others.  While I have given all that I am to my work, I have been left wanting to give more through a career in OT.  Speech pathology has refined my interpersonal skills, with not only patients, but their families as well.  Speech pathology work requires strict adherence to high ethical standards, protocols, and codes but like OT, also allows for lifetime learning.  Additionally, like in OT, speech pathologists work in teams, co-treating patients, and developing treatment plans.  At times, one has to take the initiative as a leader among other team members while simultaneously contributing in the clinic, introducing positive reinforcement systems for patients and their attendance.  The work required not only maturity and responsibility, but critical thinking skills, the ability to think on your feet, learn new concepts quickly, researching others, and taking constructive criticism as a matter of course.  While I appreciate that there are many differences in the two disciplines, I anticipate my transition to OT will be fluid and logical, given my foundation in speech pathology.

 An OT has their community’s trust, and is therefore their representative.  To this end, among my many community-related activities, I have used my make-up artistry skills to give confidence, and new outlooks on life to accident victims and the severely burned promoting their self-esteem, welcoming them to their new lives.  Through seemingly simple processes, I helped people to have the confidence to once more look people in the eye, without the fear of being seen as an accident or burn victim, but a person, with the same hopes, fears, and desire to be a part of society as everyone else; I imagined that the rewards were not dissimilar to those of the OT.

 Inner-confidence and resolve are among my greatest personal strengths, and I have coupled this with my highly developed interpersonal abilities, skills that I have practiced as a part of my career for over a decade.  The intensity of the program is not in question, to my mind.  I feel that I am completely prepared for and expect an intense learning environment.  What many call “the pressures of the job”, I find exhilarating and ideal. 

 Working in a team environment, I realize that I will have to accept that duties must be divided, and that individual team members bring with them certain strengths that allow them to shine in their given area.  If I am assigned the job of designing an effective treatment plan for a patient suffering from speech impediments, I cannot expect of myself, nor be expected to also coordinate physical therapy aspects of the treatment plan, as well. Knowing my role may not be the problem for me, rather staying within my role will be my greatest challenge.  Therefore, I will do my best, whatever my given role is, and encourage others to do the same, for the sake of our team and for the patient’s goals.  I will show my worth in different ways, by helping to maintain or instill a working environment that is harmonious and productive.

 Aside from my fluency in English and Spanish, and travels throughout Mexico, for over ten years my professional career has seen me working with colleagues, customers, and patients who represent myriad ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, ages, and physical conditions.  More importantly, I have worked with people who, at times, at their most fragile or vulnerable stages of life, confronting head-on their most sensitive issues, be they speech impediments or tragic disfigurements.  My abilities go beyond simply cultural competency, and rather represent the ability to handle gossamer-like emotions, and shattered confidence at the hands of the insensitive and ignorant, returning them to a path of recovery and renewed inner strength.

The fastest growing population in the US is our seniors.  Aside from the influx of people of diverse backgrounds into America’s healthcare system, the readmission of seniors into hospitals due to revolving doors of insufficient therapy is nothing short of alarming.  It is my aim to do all that I can to ensure that seniors, in particular, receive the finest care possible, not just with motor performance, but the safety/awareness of their home environments, and community integration, ensuring an empowerment that is not just well rounded, but complete.  What is more, we live in a burgeoning age of preventative medicine.  I have been intrigued with the ideas of Dr. XXXX (and her colleagues), and her observations of body orientation and point-to-point movement in healthy seniors.

 Autism, like other pervasive developmental disorders, has proven to be an area where OT’s can make substantial contributions, likely due to OT’s transsystemic approaches.  I am drawn to this area of OT, the sheer challenge, need for creative approaches and intrinsic rewards.  OT and its approach to healing, and rehabilitation, one that includes a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals is the ideal discipline that can make the greatest contributions to giving autistic children the chance to function positively in not just their homes, but also their communities.

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