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Five Ways to Stay Engaged At Work Outside of Patient Care

Is patient care starting to feel a little repetitive?

We get it. Patient care isn’t for everyone. Is it time to leave and get outside of patient care? Maybe you are burned out, bored, or simply ready to try something new. You are in the right place.

Check out one (or more) of the following ways to stay engaged at work outside of patient care.

1) Volunteer for (or start!) committees

As healthcare organizations grow larger and more complex, more workers are needed to volunteer for internal committees.  Common internal committees at larger organizations include:

  • Fall prevention/patient safety
  • Electronic documentation software liaison
  • Journal club
  • Accreditation preparedness: Committee on Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and Joint Commission (formerly known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations or JCAHO)
  • Support group coordination

2) Find the knowledge gaps

If your organization isn’t large enough to have committees, find the knowledge gaps at your company and fill them.  For example, if there are not enough cognitive screens or ADL assessments at your organization, create a folder with some relevant ones and place it in a central location.

If the wheelchair or seating/mobility orders could be better organized and tracked, take ownership and use a binder with tabs for each month or patients’ names to re-organize them.  If your clients need more information about home modifications or places to rent or purchase ADL equipment in your area, find or create handouts for them.

3) Volunteer for national or local organizations

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) are the major national organizations with volunteer opportunities specifically for occupational therapists.  However, other local and national organizations also recognize the great work we do and our unique perspective. Find one you’re curious or passionate about.

4) Attend Meetup events (or organize your own!)

Meetup.com is a great way to learn about other industries, network inside and outside of healthcare, and meet new people in general.  Find one geared towards your interests and take the chance. You might learn about opportunities you couldn’t have imagined!

5) Consider getting a new certification/specialization

They’re a wonderful way to demonstrate continued learning.  Note that each certification has specific requirements for education and eligibility, as well as an exam and initial certification fees.  Each one also has its own education requirements and renewal fees.  Examples of common OT certifications include Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS), Assistive Technology Specialist (ATP), Seating and Mobility Specialist (SMS), Certified Low Vision Specialist (CLVT), Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), and Certified Lymphedema Specialist (CLT), just to name a few.

As a new grad, it’s important to focus on practicing patient care techniques and developing your own bank of treatment ideas.  However, it’s equally important to think beyond the day-to-day and begin planning for longer-range goals.

Sharpening your networking skills, collaborating with interdisciplinary teams, and finding ways to contribute to organizations outside of direct patient care can help to further your career outside of the clinic and promote occupational therapy to those outside of our field.  (Bonus: Networking with non-OTs helps you refine your explanation of occupational therapy!)

Feel free to share your ideas for staying engaged outside of patient care in the comments section.

About Mika McLean

Mika McLean
Tameika M. McLean, MS, OTR/L, CAPS is a former medical and digital market researcher turned occupational therapist living and working in the Washington, DC area. She has worked in acute care, acute rehabilitation, skilled nursing, and outpatient neuro rehab. She is currently earning a graduate certificate in low vision rehabilitation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She enjoys completing crossword puzzles, running, cooking with her husband, and going to stand up comedy shows.

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