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Career Story: Therapist And Director Of An Outpatient Hand Therapy Clinic

Therapist And Director Of An Outpatient Hand Therapy Clinic

Job Title: Occupational Therapist

Type of Company: I'm the director of a private hand and upper extremity outpatient rehabilitation facility.

Education: BS, Occupational Therapy, University of New Hampshire

Previous Experience: I worked in private practice in Schenectady, NY, then moved to Cape Cod where I worked at Falmouth Hospital for 6 years before opening my own practice.

Job Tasks: I am the director of an outpatient hand therapy facility in Massachusetts. We are occupational therapists who specialize in the rehabilitation of the entire upper extremity from the shoulder to the hand. I not only manage the clinic but also treat 10-12 patients a day. I have a staff of 4 people and a per diem therapist. I also have an office manager, a receptionist and 2 CHT's (certified hand therapists). The per diem therapist comes in as needed when our caseload picks up.

The types of diagnoses we see are things like rotator cuff tears, shoulder replacements, fractures, nerve injuries, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendon lacerations, arthritis and generalized weakness. We generally heat the patients with paraffin or hot packs, perform massage, range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises and give them functional activities to do. The job is very rewarding as you are helping people heal and resume their normal lives.

Another aspect of the job is to make orthotics (splints) to support joints or to help increase range of motion.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is interacting all day with people who want to get better and are invested in their rehab. It's exciting to help people and converse with the patients while you're working.

The worst part of the job is the documentation and paperwork that is necessary for the insurance companies in order to be reimbursed. And as insurance companies reimburse less and less, therapists find themselves seeing more and more patients in a day to make up for this.

Job Tips: Prior to going to college for this career, find as many opportunities as you can to observe therapists in the workplace to see if this is the right career for you. It takes a special kind of person to help people all day long. Also get some experience before college volunteering as an aide in a hospital or outpatient clinic so that the college curriculum isn't so foreign to you. Take a course in anatomy in high school so you have a jump on the terminology when you get to the college anatomy courses.

Additional Thoughts: We are not physical therapists. People get OTs confused with PTs. OTs work mainly on the upper extremity and PTs tend to concentrate on the lower extremities. We tend to be very functionally oriented. We also get training in splint fabrication in college which appeals to the creative side in us.

To be an OT you have to enjoy working all day long helping people!!!

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