In 2020 I started my Coffee date catch up posts as a way to connect a bit with my readers and to reflect on my own thoughts and experiences from the last little while. I don’t actually follow the numbers of people that read these posts, but they have served as a nice check in for myself, so I am continuing to write them.
Last time I wrote a post, I had moved to casual in the job I disliked, and started working more in the roles I loved, taking on my boss’ pediatric clients from my private practice while she had her baby. I was able to use my energy and knowledge as an Occupational Therapist in way that allowed me to practice based on my values and beliefs as a therapist. I threw my heart and soul into my work and was so thankful. While this was all happening, I reflected on things that I liked/needed/wanted in a job, and what my future might look like as the province starts opening up more with lifting of COVID restrictions.
I realized that working in the community (going to people’s homes to see them) was exhausting to me because of the travel and so many uncontrollables. Working with humans, of course I can’t control how they respond to me, how their days are or how they are feeling when I visit them, but being in their homes I also am not in control of the environment which can make the job extra tricky and also anxiety producing to me. So I started looking into more clinic based jobs…. and as of now, I have been working at the therapy farm that I did my second placement at in my Master’s degree for the past month! It is a big new job (first full time 8-4 job since before I started school), with a big drive, lots of change… but it has been so good so far!
I am currently in a role where I am using my Occupational therapy lens every day, but I don’t have specific one on one clients I am working with because it is summer programming. In the summer we have activities and kids come to camp and are either in a small group or one on one with a staff who guide them around to do various activities. As the resource team, we are around to support the staff, to assist with the guests’ communication and when they exhibit what society calls “behaviours”, and help modify activities so that everyone can enjoy regardless of their abilities. Being a new member of the team, and someone that does not currently have placement students they are working with (everyone else on resource team does), I have experienced a lot of imposter syndrome and guilt about not “doing enough”. However, I HAVE been doing a lot, supporting the guests and staff, and getting a handle on what my more specific OT role can be come fall when programming returns to being more structured. A couple weeks ago I hosted interviews for two Personal Support workers for their 14 day placement (OT supervises PSW because we overlap in the transfers and more mechanical aspect of the job, such as feeding, changing, hygiene, comfort etc), and they will be starting this upcoming week! I am really excited to have students coming up so I can experience what that is like and start learning how to become the best preceptor I can be for when I start to get OTA/PTA students.
I have been having regular check ins with my fiancee to make sure that my energy and mood is still positive and not drained due to my job (as it was in the previous community job I was working in). I have also come to accept that now that I am not experiencing as intense job related anxiety as in my old job, that there is a deeper cause to my anxiety that my strategies and coping skills don’t always help, and have started the process of consulting my doctor about it. This was a huge step for me, as usually I take care of everyone else and play the “strong” character in my story, where I don’t “need” the doctor. The longer I work as an OT, the more I realize that I do have mental health needs that need to be addressed and that it is OKAY to use the strategies I use with my clients as an OT and that it is also OKAY for me to ask other people for help.
It’s been an interesting journey these last couple years, but I am finally feeling like I belong in this job and that my work is meaningful and making a difference.
Since this post was the first in a LONG time, I feel like it is quite scattered, but I also think it is important for me to share, both for myself and for anyone that is following along. I am hoping that along with these learning moments and reflections, I can start returning to more educational posts as well, involving the strategies and learnings from my new job 🙂 If you are someone who has children or works with children with varying abilities, what kind of information would you like to read about? Leave it down in the comments below if you’d like!