7 Tips for Success As A New Grad Occupational Therapy Practitioner

New Grad occupational therapy practitioners: 7 tips for success

As new grad occupational therapy practitioners it can be hard, heck, I might even throw in there Level II Fieldwork students too, but this doesn’t have to be the case!

Yes, there is a learning curve to a new population you are working with, a setting you have never worked before or even an entirely new computer system to navigate. It can stressful, but I am going to share 7 tips to help you feel successful in your new occupational therapy career.

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New Grad Occupational Therapy Practitioner Tips:

1. Give yourself grace

We are humans and growing: be patient, focus on the positives, remember you are learning and no one expects you to know everything. Your first job does not have to be your forever job or even forever population that you work this. This is a time to explore. 

2. Align yourself with positive, competent people

Connect with occupational therapy Facebook groups, join state and national OT organizations and/or memberships like the OT Flourish Membership, where you will find support and others that have the same professional drive, likemindedness and others that are also wanting to learn and grow. Join your local occupational therapy meetups or even just connect with fellow healthcare workers at your facility that display positive work practices.

This has been not only the most influential part of my own OT journey, but has helped with burnout and it keeps me inspired!

3.  Show initiative

Ask all the questions.

Be open to observing procedures.

Volunteer or let them know you want to be a part of program development.

Ask more questions.

Do your research on new diagnoses, treatment ideas, mediations, etc. 

ASK QUESTIONS! (see a theme?!)

If you are part of professional memberships, Facebook groups, organizations – use them and be proactive in your professional development and participation.

4. Be a lifelong learner

Occupational therapy is not a stagnant profession. There are so many ways to learn and sharpen your skills like:

5. Manage stress

Definitely can be easier said than done, but remember, being a healthcare professional is what you do, it is not what you are.

We all have hard days. Reflect on what recharges you and helps prevent burnout!

New Grad occupational therapy practitioners: 7 tips for success

6. Connect with your patients 

At the end of the day, even if you feel like it was not a successful OT day, it’s those relationships that mean the most. They will help you feel confident and like you are making a difference, even if you don’t feel like it.

THAT is success!

7. Have fun!

Even if you don’t feel like you know everything, which not everyone does, occupational therapy can be a fun profession.

Make it!

Get creative, listen to your patients, see what their likes are and what is meaningful to your patients (the core of OT). Connection, laughter, games, stories, silliness, etc. If you are having fun, your patients are more likely to be having fun. 

Get ideas from reliable, evidence based sources like the OT Flourish Membership, or use theory to guide interventions with your creative spirit. 

What tips would you give to new grad occupational therapy practitioners?

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