Dilemma about whether or not to stay in OT school

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OTstudent6 in Indianapolis, Indiana

24 months ago

So I'm in my second semester of grad school to get my masters in OT. Since the beginning I've had second thoughts about whether or not this field is for me. I was attracted to the field because I felt like I wanted to help people and this field pays well and is high in demand. While I still want to help people, I'm not very comfortable with the intimacy involved with the job (bathing and toileting people). I'm in a predicament on whether to stay with it because, on one hand I can stay with it and have a decent job when it's all said and done, but I could also be unhappy and end up wishing I would have gotten out while I could and not have been so far in debt. I know ultimately I need to make this decision...but any input would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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OTstudent6 in Indianapolis, Indiana

24 months ago

A couple of additional comments I want to add to elaborate on my situation:
* I'm kind of squeamish and feel that I could have never been a nurse (when in reality OT's do some similar tasks as CNAs).
* I originally was most interested in being a school OT, but my fielwork educator informed me that they get paid on a teacher's salary (I just hate to go so in debt with grad school to get paid like a teacher).
* I'm really good at working hard, in fact I have straight A's so far in the program. I'm just worried that when it comes time to do my full time fieldwork, and I end up in inpatient or SNF, that I won't be able to handle it and will fail. This is not so unheard of in my program either. I know that several students failed level 2 fieldwork last semester.

That's all...I really appreciate any feedback....good or bad. I just want people to be honest with me!

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OT123 in Los Angeles, California

24 months ago

I think you have valid concerns. And, in the end, no matter what we tell you, only you can make the ultimate decision about what you would like to do.

From my perspective, I'm curious about whether or not you are squemish when it comes to children. In my past experience working with children with special needs, I have been peed on, pooped on, sneezed on, etc. And, during that job I was lucky enough that it was not part of my job duties to clean up the various messes personally (parents were required to be present and they would have to clean up their children -- I only cleaned what got on myself, of course). However, I have observed OTs in school settings who have had to clean up messes that some of their clients made during their sessions. Does your squemishness apply only to geriatrics/adults?

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OTstudent6 in Indianapolis, Indiana

24 months ago

I'm not so much squeamish with snot or even pee...but I'm definitely squeamish with blood and would really prefer not to deal with poop at all, no matter what the age. Not that I feel that I am above it or anything. In fact, I admire people that can do it, but it just isn't for me. I guess I'm hopeful that there are some areas of OT where you don't have to deal with poop...or is that unrealistic? I guess what I'm still not sure of is how often I would be cleaning up people's messes / wiping them. I know it depends on setting....but for inpatient or SNF would this be an everyday thing? What about in an outpatient setting? I'm sure I could handle it on rare occasion but if it is a daily thing, I don't know that I can...

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prodigiousflames in Santa Ana, California

24 months ago

hey I think you're sort of like me. I don't want to work with the geriatric population either. I think we are more suited towards a position that works with upper extremities, in a physical therapy type setting. Check and see if any of those clinics offer a mentorship program for new grads

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Daniellla in Chicago, Illinois

23 months ago

OP, I completely relate and was going to post something similar. However, I am almost done with the classroom portion, so I am stuck. I had doubts from early on, but the challenge of the program distracted me from thinking too much about it. Now that I am approaching the reality of the actual profession, my doubts are growing stronger. I, too, am not comfortable with the intimacy aspect. I also find myself not liking the physical disability or mental health areas and feel I might become bored rather quickly in this field. I wanted to do TBI, but I don't think I'll have real exposure until I graduate and can take control of what I want to do. As for your question, only you can make that decision. If your only reservation is the toileting/bathing aspects of the job, I think you can get around that. I've been told that it isn't an OT's job and therapists should always call the CNA when it happens. So far, I haven't seen any of it in my level I experiences. Like the other poster said, hand therapists rarely, if ever, have anything to do with toileting. If there are other things about the field you don't like, that's another story. If you had doubts from the beginning, you will probably have them throughout the program. It's a tough decision and one you have to think long and hard about. Good luck.

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OT - New Grad in SF, California

23 months ago

I just completed my level 2 fieldwork at a SNF. OTs at SNF mainly work on ADL (i.e., toileting, bathing, grooming/hygiene, etc.), which means you WILL deal with poop and pee. I'm sorry to say, but that's just reality. Technically, it is the CNA's job to "clean up" after the patients. However, when working with a patient on toileting, guess who will be teaching patients the sequence of pulling their pants down, relieving themselves, and wiping their butt? Yup, you got it, the OT.

I know how you all feel because, I too, do not like being involved in toileting and ADLs, but that is 99% of what OT does in a SNF. The 1% is teaching transfer techniques, therapeutic exercises, and maybe an IADL like cooking. And this doesn't make sense to me as OTs are required to have a legitimate Masters degree (M.S.) and in the end, we are wiping people's butts?? This is something that a CNA can do.

I know for a a fact that I will NEVER work at a SNF for that reason. My hope is to work at an outpatient facility so that I can use my education and training. But i do realize that one has to have a mentor who will be willing to take one under his wing.

I sort of regret getting into OT as I had a different career prior; however, it is too late for me to change now. I am in my 40's and i don't think I will go back to school again. I'm just hoping for the best.

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OTlover in Chicago, Illinois

23 months ago

Did you guys observe before you were accepted? I work as a rehab aide and NONE of the OT's ever do any of those things. With that said if SNF isn't for you there are other sectors of OT.

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KelleyAnne in Saint Peters, Missouri

23 months ago

I work at a hospital that happens to have an outpatient facility adjoined. I primarily work in the inpatient acute setting which involves a lot of bathing and toileting, as these are part of the basic ADLs people need to be able to do before they go home. Acute care can involve quite a bit of urine, blood, and poop. However, it's a nice change when I go over the outpatient facility to see patients because these are people that are able to travel from home to the clinic, therefore they are generally able to perform the majority of their ADLs or have a caregiver that assists them. If we work on toileting or bathing, it's much higher level and mainly involves working out the details such as independence with clothing management, etc. I have never touched urine, blood, or poop in outpatient.

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geography in Edwardsville, Illinois

22 months ago

OT - New Grad in SF, California said: I just completed my level 2 fieldwork at a SNF. OTs at SNF mainly work on ADL (i.e., toileting, bathing, grooming/hygiene, etc.), which means you WILL deal with poop and pee. I'm sorry to say, but that's just reality. Technically, it is the CNA 's job to "clean up" after the patients. However, when working with a patient on toileting, guess who will be teaching patients the sequence of pulling their pants down, relieving themselves, and wiping their butt? Yup, you got it, the OT.

I know how you all feel because, I too, do not like being involved in toileting and ADLs, but that is 99% of what OT does in a SNF. The 1% is teaching transfer techniques, therapeutic exercises, and maybe an IADL like cooking. And this doesn't make sense to me as OTs are required to have a legitimate Masters degree (M.S.) and in the end, we are wiping people's butts?? This is something that a CNA can do.

I know for a a fact that I will NEVER work at a SNF for that reason. My hope is to work at an outpatient facility so that I can use my education and training. But i do realize that one has to have a mentor who will be willing to take one under his wing.

I sort of regret getting into OT as I had a different career prior; however, it is too late for me to change now. I am in my 40's and i don't think I will go back to school again. I'm just hoping for the best.

What was your different career you had in mind before OT?

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geography in Edwardsville, Illinois

22 months ago

KelleyAnne in Saint Peters, Missouri said: I work at a hospital that happens to have an outpatient facility adjoined. I primarily work in the inpatient acute setting which involves a lot of bathing and toileting, as these are part of the basic ADLs people need to be able to do before they go home. Acute care can involve quite a bit of urine, blood, and poop. However, it's a nice change when I go over the outpatient facility to see patients because these are people that are able to travel from home to the clinic, therefore they are generally able to perform the majority of their ADLs or have a caregiver that assists them. If we work on toileting or bathing, it's much higher level and mainly involves working out the details such as independence with clothing management, etc. I have never touched urine, blood, or poop in outpatient.

Hi KelleyAnne, I notice you are located close to me. Did you go to OT program in the St. Louis area? (washu or slu?)

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MSG in Salinas, California

22 months ago

OT - New Grad in SF, California said: I just completed my level 2 fieldwork at a SNF. OTs at SNF mainly work on ADL (i.e., toileting, bathing, grooming/hygiene, etc.), which means you WILL deal with poop and pee. I'm sorry to say, but that's just reality. Technically, it is the CNA 's job to "clean up" after the patients. However, when working with a patient on toileting, guess who will be teaching patients the sequence of pulling their pants down, relieving themselves, and wiping their butt? Yup, you got it, the OT.

I know how you all feel because, I too, do not like being involved in toileting and ADLs, but that is 99% of what OT does in a SNF. The 1% is teaching transfer techniques, therapeutic exercises, and maybe an IADL like cooking. And this doesn't make sense to me as OTs are required to have a legitimate Masters degree (M.S.) and in the end, we are wiping people's butts?? This is something that a CNA can do.

I know for a a fact that I will NEVER work at a SNF for that reason. My hope is to work at an outpatient facility so that I can use my education and training. But i do realize that one has to have a mentor who will be willing to take one under his wing.

I sort of regret getting into OT as I had a different career prior; however, it is too late for me to change now. I am in my 40's and i don't think I will go back to school again. I'm just hoping for the best.

Ouch...you sound exactly like me. Maybe I should just stick it out with I/T and programming. Or, maybe I should get into another health care field. I did like pediatrics, though. I wouldn't mind working with kids. Damn, I've had so many second thoughts about OT, and reading these threads isn't helping.

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zam zim in Orlando, Florida

22 months ago

Stick with it and finish the degree. I used to also be freaked out by toileting and showering...but believe me, once you do it a few times, you get used to it. Remember, you're there to do a job...which is not to scrutinize naked people's bodies. Approach it medically and objectively and just go in and do your job with confidence. Also, once you finish fieldwork, you can get a job in pediatrics, mental health, community wellness, etc. You don't have to do acute or rehab

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zam zim in Orlando, Florida

22 months ago

Oops! I meant to add...about wiping butts. I did that all of two times in my entire fieldwork setting. I did it because the patient physically could not reach around due to sternal precautions. Not a big deal at all. You just get some wet wipes, do it, and move on to the actual therapy.

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Creole Soul in Maryland

19 months ago

OTstudent6, stick it out. there are so many fields in OT that you can work in where you won't be dealing with poop and such. My current FW supervisor did Driving rehab for former stroke patients. She said she loved it but it was dangerous, obviously. You can also do hand therapy where you will only be treating the hand. Look in emerging practice areas too. A SNF is not your only option as an OT

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