OT students burnout. Why?

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Sophie in Denton, Texas

11 months ago

I've been reading posts in this forum and found that many OT students get burnout while they're in school. I was wondering why. Here are some of my questions.

1. Do OT schools mostly teach abstract theories?
What is the percentage? Are those theories not quite related to their practice?

2. What are other factors that make OT students stressful?

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Creole Soul in Maryland

11 months ago

Hello Sophie,

I'm going to answer your question from my thread and this one in here, since they are the same. Yes, most schools teach theories, which they call Frames of Reference, such as the biomechanical Model, Cognitive Behavioral, Sensory Integration, etc. There are a plethora of more but you will learn those in school. You will at least be exposed to most of the theories but your school may not go in great detail about each one.

That said, they are all related to practice, however, because you won't be applying those theories into practice, once you start Fieldwork II, it's a different ballgame.

Yes, MANY of my classmates from my school and other schools have shared the same sentiment about burnout. Fieldwork II is much more stressful and worse than the time in class. It is the time when you get to showcase what you have learned in school.

However, the key issue a lot of these schools are not teaching students, my school included, proper clinical reasoning skills. They just give you material and hope you get it.

the burnout also comes from Fieldwork II being a dreadful 6 months. It is a very long six months in which you will be under the supervision of a Clinical Instructor, most of whom have forgotten they were students at one point and do not know how to successfully guide a student into becoming an entry level therapist. The schools say "Well, they are doing the students a favor by taking them on" I get that, but my gripe is that they have simply forgotten they were once students and expect students to have the same knowledge and skill base as them.

You will also have to do in inservice aka project for your Fieldwork II site. Most sites let you pick what you want, but others don't.

That said, it is stressful because your life is not your own for 6 months. You are really at the mercy of the CI.

Also, you may not be able to work which means you will be broke. If I had to do this again, I wouldn't.

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Sophie in Denton, Texas

11 months ago

Hi Creole Soul, thanks for your reply. I was wondering why OT school always have so many theories to learn and why they don't teach you how to put them into practice. Is it because time is too short to cover all the theories and little time is left for practice? Do you spend 90% time learning theories?

Do PT schools also have so many theories? As I know there's more hard science in PT school.

I'm in a dilemma right now. I've been accepted to both OT and PT schools. I like OT because I love it's core ideas, like live life to its fullest which is congruent to my personality. Someone told me that OTs are more friendly than PTs, and I'm a friendly person rather than being aggressive. However I'm better at learning hard science than abstract throries, If most of time what I learn in OT school are theories, I guess I would struggle a lot. How do you learn theories? By reading, memorization and writing? I'm good at hard science because I know how to learn it, as long as I understand it, I don't forget. I'm a visual learner.

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youngbrOT in Jersey City, New Jersey

7 months ago

Sophie, I am currently an OT student and I find myself STRUGGLING with the material because it is so abstract. My brain just isn't used to all these theories and frankly i dislike it. I am like you, a hard and concrete learner. In my program i found that I do well in the science areas( such as neuro and medication) but am extremely weak in the psychology related courses, which is pretty much what OT is about. There is so much emphasis in "creative thinking" or "thinking outside the box". If anyone is like me who is currently in a program or actually graduated OT, your help and advice is appreciated. I hope i survive in this program because my grades aren't too well....

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Sophie in Galveston, Texas

7 months ago

Hi youngbrOT, are you currently in New Jersey? which school are you in? I was accepted to Kean University, but now i'm acctually in a PT school. To be honest, I still like OT and sometimes think about go back to OT school, just because its emphasize on emotions and psychology which means OTs really care about your feelings and psychological aspect. I'm a concrete learner, but I feel OTs are usually more caring than PT and it only takes 2 years or 2.5 years to graduate. Regarding the psychology part of the program, does it require lots of abstract memorization? Why is it hard for you? Is it harder to memorize thank concrete knowledge? In PT school, we have lots of things to memorize too. Usually muscles and bones.

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