OT Settings, Uncategorized

OT Settings Series: the Intro

The magic questions “where do you find people jobs?… or “where do occupational therapy practitioners work” seem to follow us wherever we go.


The truth is even after 100 + years as a profession, many people –even fellow members of our interdisciplinary healthcare team do NOT have an accurate depiction of what we do and where we do it. Simultaneously, we as a collective group of OT/OTAs, current OT/OTA students, and pre-OT students struggle in accurately depicting all of the cool things we do in a vast variety of different places (I am pretty sure I am not the only OT out there that stumbles and grumbles in feeble attempts to describe more than just the settings I have had direct experience in). After self-reflecting on my own gaps of knowledge in the multitude of settings and feeling inept in accurately depicting each setting on my own (without having experience in every setting), I felt that these are questions that are paramount to defining in order to maximize the respect of our peers, our profession, and ourselves with the ultimate goal to serve our patients and clients. Rather than quoting textbooks that tell us “by the book” how occupational therapy is supposed to look in a specific setting, the thought of interviewing and collaborating with therapists immersed in the field was most appealing.

The purpose of this #OTsettingsSeries is to address the question “Where can occupational therapy exist and what does OT look like in that setting?”. This question is tenfold because the truth is occupational therapy is in everything and can be found everywhere –all you need to do is put on your OT lens and view the meaningful, necessary activities around us. Thus, the best way to answer “where” OT is found, we must prepare by gathering information and what better way to do that than to ask our peers!! It is an honor to share insight from therapists working in specific fields to shed light on the magnitude of value we bring to the table. I am thankful to call these contributing therapists my OT colleagues. Furthermore, although I came up with the interview questions to gather qualitative information and am formulating the thoughts to read as a cohesive unit, I wholeheartedly consider this as a collective group “project” and will duly note that on the future posts.

So what are the 4 parts to the #OTSettingsSeries?

Each setting (as of now) will fall into 1 of 4 categories in order to attempt to delineate and organize similarities and differences between the settings where occupational therapy practitioners work. It is highly likely – in fact – you can just about count on it – we will miss a few key parts about a specific setting and/or may accidentally leave some place (or someone) off the blog series. But like all things in healthcare (and in general day to day life activity) life will continue and hopefully so will this series whether that means it is updated and  added to annually or if someone completely comes up with a new “category” – this blog series is for OUR community.

PART ONE—Inpatient OT settings:

“picture being in a hospital or in some type of inpatient facility for a specific period of time due to an onset of symptoms or due to a fall…”

  • Key contenders of inpatient OT life include: ICU, acute care, long term acute care, transitional care, acute inpatient rehab, short term inpatient rehab, skilled nursing facility/subacute rehab, pediatric nursing home…

PART TWO—Community OT settings:

“picture being back in your ‘home’ but still benefitting from skilled OT services to facilitate a safe transition or to enable continued improvement and reintegration back into community life….”

  • Key contenders of community OT life include: home health, assisted living facility, independent living facility, schools, early intervention, return to work, paratransit, PACE program, home health SCI/TBI…

PART THREE—Outpatient OT settings:

“picture being reintegrated back into most of your daily life shenanigans but needing some extra fine tuning to really get back to optimal function…”

  • Key contenders of outpatient OT life include: outpatient neuro/balance/vestibular, outpatient ortho/hands, outpatient visual motor rehab, outpatient pediatrics, outpatient lymphadema…

PART FOUR—Unique settings:

“picture out of the box, up and coming, help a person get back on track in achieving their developmental stages that may have been interrupted by an adverse event…”

  • Key contenders of unique settings include: NICU, prisons, aquatic, oncology, assistive technology/robotics, travel, pediatric feeding/sensory integration, adult mental health, peds mental health/fostercare/abuse…

*So what is the hold up?? WHY is it taking so long to post the first part of the series????

*section to be deleted later –> The truth is this takes time. So far I have had about 60 Instagram DMs responding “Yes, I want to be apart of this collaborative blog series in order to shed light on ______ setting”. From those 60 about 20 people politely later stated that in some form or fashion they are too busy to respond to the interview questions. I have sent 8-12 questions to about three quarters of that number so far and have received about half of those responses. I am sifting and piecing responses together as well as replaying to many messages (I am behind…..sorrry!!) I work full-time #inpatientOTlife and to maintain my own occupational balance I limit the amount of time I do these “outside projects” (which I LOVE to do btw)…

Long story short – gathering a lot of qualitative info takes time, but I am so excited to share the responses because let me tell you THEY ARE FANTASTIC AND DEMONSTRATE SUCH EXCELLENT INSIGHT INTO VARIOUS SETTINGS. Some of the answers actually make my heart sing, because 1) the answers are so articulate and detailed and these therapists are true gemstones to take thirty minutes to delegate to answering the questions to their entirety and 2) I can literally hear the passion and dedication these therapists have in their professional role as occupational therapy practitioners (both occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants) & SO PLEASE CONTINUE TO GIVE GRACE BECAUSE I TEND TO GET MYSELF INTO WRITING SITUATIONS THAT I OVERWHELMINGLY UNDERESTIMATE THE TIME LOLOL.

Nevertheless, I leave y’all with a quote from one of the participating therapists (I will provide her identification to give her credit for her fantastic portrayal of OT in layman’s terms in the future post:) )

“With a patient that didn’t know what OT was, I would say ‘My name is J. and I’m your Occupational Therapist today. Occupational Therapy works with all your daily occupations, all the jobs and tasks you have throughout each day. Some of the tasks we will be working on are dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, cooking and cleaning, fishing and gardening.’ Then I would ask them what motivates them, why do they get out of bed in the morning, and shift my focus to exactly what their needs are. If they still seem confused, or ask how its different than PT, I would say ‘It’s definitely necessary for you to walk, but it’s best if you don’t want naked.'” –J., Occupational Therapist

to be continued…

******UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2018- Due to the amount of awesome feedback and contributing responses there will be multiple individual posts about specific settings!!!1*****

With love,


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