SVSU occupational therapy (OT) graduates are speaking out about how their program has provided life-changing options for its students.
A growing program at SVSU, the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook reported there were 108,000 OT jobs in 2010, and that from 2010 to 2020, majors in their field should expect a 33-percent increase in employment.
Yet, Matilda Bierlein, an OT graduate student said, “People are starting to realize it’s not just a job.”
Bierlein said an OT student realizes during their time in the program that they are not in it just for the job.
Justin Clark, an OT graduate, is starting his second level in the program next semester, and said they are taught to think about others more than themselves.
“We are taught instead to be guided by the clients’ best interest,” Clark said. “We are focused on the individual’s experience.”
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), in its recent presidential blog, said, “Occupational therapy practitioners can help you see the way the environments you are in, the activities you do, and the goals that you have can be tailored to assure that you flourish in everyday living.”
“We get involved in what makes them — them,” Clark said.
Clark also said that OTs are trained to help people get back to playing golf, washing the dishes or anything that they did before they needed help.
“Everything we do is aimed to help,” Clark said. “We improve the quality of life one day at a time.”
Clark and Bierlein said OT students have options, and besides being personable and dedicated, they agreed that students interested in OT will find ways to be involved in their communities.
“If you are truly interested in being an agent of change,” Clark said, “then you may find your way into the OT program.”
The program requires that a student complete at least 60 hours of volunteer work before being accepted.
Clark said that students can always find places to volunteer and it can revolve around their interests.
“You get to choose your specialty, and you have time to decide,” Clark said.
Student can either specialize in physical or psychosocial therapy.
“You can also work in mental health, as well as get someone back into their job,” Clark said.
Clark and Bierlein said that they believe OTs are needed and can find jobs.
“I think we are freshly educated, young-minded, creative and go-getters,” Clark said.
OTs have options in what they can do with their skills.
“In our program you can choose to work with children or adults,” Clark said. “The program tries to get you into everything.”
Clark and Bierlein said that OTs can work in a school setting, be traveling OTs, or can work in hospitals, and that it only matters where graduates want to help people.”