Saturday, October 8, 2011

To D or not to D?

So the D I am talking about is my OTD (Doctorate in Occupational Therapy).  At the moment, if you would like to be an Occupational Therapist, you are required to at least get your Masters degree. There are also many programs out there that also offer a Doctorate program. I've always thought it would be a lot of fun to go back to school and get my OTD. What are some of the benefits you may wonder? Well, you learn more first of all!! I think that OT is such a HUGE field full of diversity and options. I always feel like I could learn more, and I enjoy learning, so it's something that would interest me. Secondly, you can teach. I really don't feel like I'm even a tiny bit close to having the qualifications to be teaching, but I think it would be a lot of fun down the road to help others see the good in OT and teach them the ropes. Some of the cons? Well, first off, it's an expense. And not a very cheap one. We are in a situation where we have a lot of student debt, so it's not a smart or viable option at the moment. Another con is that if you end up not teaching, the pay is not usually comparable to the cost it takes. I have a lot of friends who have their Doctorate in Physical Therapy (which is also a requirement), and when we've chatted, we find out that we're really making about the same as each other. Sorry if that's a bit a loaded's not true in all cases of course, but just with some of the friends/co-workers I've had.

:::::So here are some of the options for OT regarding schooling:::::
-COTA (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant): Requires 2 years of schooling after college at an accredited program. As a COTA, you are able to do many of the things OTs do, except things like Evaluations. There are various state rules regarding what COTAs can and cannot do in specific areas practice, so check out your state's OT Board to find out more.
-Masters in Occupational Therapy: Some schools require you to have an undergraduate degree first, others require a couple years undergrad and then you enter a program. My school was the latter. We went to college for two years, and then entered the OT program, which is about 3 1/2 years. There are also accelerated programs at certain schools and online. Make sure you research possible schools before you dive in.
-Doctorate or PhD in OT: I won't be a pro at this one so feel free to add comments if you have more insight! There are many great options to get that D you're shooting for, whether it's your OTD or PhD in OT. Make sure to get your undergrad first, and look into the programs you may apply for before deciding what your undergrad decisions will be (what and where).
-There are also hybrid programs that offer dual degrees to get your DPT (Doctorate in Physical Therapy) as well as your MOT. People who do this totally impress me, I'm not sure I could make the cut! I'm not really sure how they work, but if you know anyone or any more about them leave a comment! :) I feel like you'd have a large responsibility after you graduate and am not sure of how the pay differs if you have both your OT and PT degrees. I know you can only take on the work of one person but really you have the knowledge for two, so I'd think you'd at least get some sort of bump up on the salary tree.

Before you choose a program, try to talk with some previous graduates from that specific track/program, as well as the faculty. It's always nice to get a good read on things to see if it will fit best with your learning style and situation. For me, I'll just wait a while until I have a clearer picture of my future, and see where I head from here before I make any more big schooling decisions.

Good luck!!! :)