In the past few months, I have talked to several people considering occupational therapy as a career. Surprisingly enough, a majority of them were male!
Of course, there are many reasons to be an occupational therapist. Yet, I have found myself describing the positives of being a male occupational therapist and thought others might enjoy them as well.
If you made it through OT school as a male, you shouldn’t have a problem with your first job. If you ever feel nervous or uncomfortable, just remember that most clients and their families don't know what occupational therapy is and you will have to give a quick definition anyways. They won’t know how few of us there actually are.
Male OTs Are Being Recruited
Facilities and managers are not hiring male OTs for show. They are beginning to value the diversity of male occupational therapists and what they bring to the table. Often this is applicable to all occupational therapists and not just males. Different life experiences and points of view are never a bad characteristic when it comes to delivering quality care. Since there are so few of us, it is one more way to market yourself during your first interview!
Clients Respond Differently
I have worked with some clients who I make a strong connection with almost immediately and others where it takes a bit more work. I have even had some clients where I had to switch with another OT because I felt that the lack of rapport was inhibiting the therapeutic process. Different clients may respond more positively to a male and this is especially applicable for various settings and populations.
For example, a 19-year-old guy might relate better to a male therapist after a traumatic brain injury. Even a small child in pediatrics might respond better to a positive male role model. The options are endless for male OTs, and that is why diversity is important.
Male OTs Are Paid More
It isn't necessarily a positive for the profession as a whole, but male OTs are paid more than their female counterparts. This is particularly interesting since the profession is dominated by women. There are many factors that have created the disparity and discussing them could be an article on its own.
The most we can do right now is draw attention to it and spread the word so that we can all be paid what we are worth.
Now, There Are More Positives That Are A Little Less Serious...
Food. Food. Food.
It’s a fact. Female OTs bake often and for all sorts of occasions. Benefitting from all of the baked goods was one of my favorite aspects of OT school. Chocolate chip cookies are exactly what you need when you are tired and stressed from memorizing the ACLS.
And it doesn't stop there. OTs love to eat, and the baked goods continue through school and throughout your clinical career.
Lifelong Sisters and Friends
I'll be the first to admit, going to grad school with 30 women wasn't my favorite thing ever. However, there were benefits other than eating their food. The girls I went to school with turned into friends and pseudo sisters. Whether I wanted it or not, they were there with dating advice and other support
I could not have imagined anywhere else. As I reflect back, this might be the greatest part about being a male occupational therapist