This guest post is part of an OTinsight series #OTStoriesFromTheField.
Hi everyone, my name is Jordan Hatfield! I am currently enrolled in the Masters of Occupational Therapy program at Lenoir Rhyne in Hickory, North Carolina! I plan to work in pediatrics and hopefully specialize in working with children who have special needs. I am completing my final fieldwork rotation at a pediatric occupational therapy clinic next summer in Boise, Idaho—which I am hoping will then turn into my job! If any part of my story interests you, feel free to reach out at: Jordan.firstname.lastname@example.org !!! I would be more than happy to chat!
Why did you choose OT?/How did you discover OT?
My best friend’s little brother had a stroke in utero and has had to have PT, OT, and ST consistently throughout his childhood. Through their family is how I first heard of what OT was about 9 years ago.
I entered into college knowing that I wanted to work with children and more specifically, children with special needs, but I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like in regards to choosing a major in college! So I explored the field of special education and considered becoming a special education teacher for a season before realizing it just wasn’t the field for me.
In having a conversation with my best friend, she suggested that with my interests and personality, I should look into OT and see if I liked what I found. After doing a little research, I began to fall in love with this career. I aligned perfectly with what an OT does and how an OT thinks. This is how my love for OT began!
What do you think is the most important aspect of OT/What are you most passionate about within the field of OT?
This is one of my favorite questions! There is no doubt in my mind that building a relationship with your patient is of utmost importance. We as occupational therapists are to see our patients as a valuable human being who has a family and a story just like anyone else.
I believe in treating my patients holistically—meaning, I don’t just get the referral to treat a patient for their knee replacement and figure out the best way to treat the patient. This means I receive the referral for a patient who just had a knee replacement and I figure out how this knee replacement has impacted their day-to-day life. Then I work with them to improve in the areas they see as most valuable.
I am extremely passionate about something called “therapeutic use of self”. This is something I plan to implement into my practice when I become a working clinician. When using therapeutic use of self, you value the rapport you build with a patient and understand how valuable the therapist-client relationship truly is.
I believe in the power of conversation and that having someone really listen to you and understand exactly where you’re at that time on that day can be extremely therapeutic. In all of my experience so far, I have learned how much more effective a therapy treatment is when you’re willing to hold a conversation with your client and really listen to what they’re saying. To be trusted to help heal an individual is a big responsibility, and I believe in this field, that looks like loving your patient well—right where they’re at, and utilizing the tool of simply being a genuine human being to help them reach their goals.
What does your typical day look like?
Ah, I am actually writing this on my last day of my FINAL fall semester of graduate school!
My typical days this past semester have varied greatly—including class, treatment of a patient in a local adult day facility, working on multiple group projects and presentations, meeting at Chick-fil-A for breakfast with some of my OT pals, planning and executing our Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) events as president, living day-to-day life with my incredible husband, Jake, and occasionally getting an actual 8 hours of sleep.
This semester has been fairly different in that there has been less lecture and more hands on experience and group work. It has been really great and really challenging at the same time. I am truly relieved to have a month off to catch up on resting and reading and spending time with the Lord and preparing for my final semester of school!
What has your OT journey been like so far?
Wow, this is quite the question. I feel like there is enough information in my head to write an entire book based off this question alone!
It has been crazy and hard and tiring and rewarding and eye opening and so, so joyful. There is something so beautiful about working in a field that is focused on helping others. There is something so incredible about going through a 2-year program with a group of people who think and work just like you do and who have the same goals. I have learned SO MUCH about myself and about how incredible the people I’ll be working with are. Occupational therapists stand out to me as the most phenomenal group of people, although I may be a little biased! 😉
Getting into school was like running a marathon. Graduate school has also been like running a marathon, but I’m running alongside some of the smartest, kindest, and most wonderful humans I have ever met. This journey has been nothing short of awesome and I cannot wait to see what is to come.
Do you have a funny/interesting fieldwork story you’d like to share?
100% I do. I have been dubbed as having “the most hilarious fieldwork story” by my cohort.
One thing you will learn if you are not yet in school is that as an OT student and then as a clinician, you have two options–you can either cry and get upset about the things you experience, OR you can learn to laugh at yourself and tuck away the crazy stories to bring out on a rainy day.
This past summer I was working with a 95 year old male who had a pretty minor stroke and required occupational therapy to regain upper extremity strength, balance, safety techniques–all that jazz. He quickly became my favorite patient (even though you’re not supposed to have those, shhh). Through working on simple meal preparation, we had spent a session making potatoes, as that was a meal he regularly made, but he wanted to also try making cinnamon rolls.
So one day I came in early, turned on the oven, and went to get this patient so we could knock out our arm exercises before starting on the cinnamon rolls. Well, while working through his exercises, the oven beeped that it was preheated and ready to go…until I stood up and saw that the oven was on fire.
Please keep in mind that at the time, I was completing my first level 2 fieldwork at a skilled nursing facility (SNF) and I had only been there for about 9 weeks.
My clinical instructor jumped up immediately when I quietly proclaimed, “I…think the oven is on fire,” to which she so bravely opened the oven and put the fire out. When she opened the oven, we discovered that someone had left a plastic cupcake container in the oven…to which I had, obviously, cooked until it was bubble gum.
By the time the fire was put out, the alarms in the entire SNF had gone off and every individual of high ranking was running into the therapy gym with a fire extinguisher in hand. The oven was thrown away, the therapy gym was shut down for 2 hours, and no therapist could utilize the resources within it.
OH AND ALSO, we were celebrating July birthdays that day. So tons of the therapists had brought food for us all to have lunch to celebrate…me of course being one of the TWO July birthdays we were celebrating that day…and unfortunately, all the food got contaminated in the process of putting out the fire.
Let’s just say, I eventually came around to laughing about the entire situation, and now I absolutely love telling this hilariously ridiculous story.
This guest post is part of an OTinsight series #OTStoriesFromTheField.