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5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known as an OT Student

Sarah Putt, MA, OTR/L

Ever thought, “I wish I would have known this when I was in OT school?”

Real talk, this is me ALL THE TIME.

After over a decade in the field, needless to say I’ve learned a lot. And now being a fieldwork educator, I try to share what I have learned so current students don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. 

So I did some reflecting and came up with five things that I wish I could go back and tell myself as a student.  

  1. You are more than “just”

The first thing that I have learned and wished that I could go back and tell myself is that you are so much more than “just”. 

You are more than just a student. Many students don’t think they have a voice and honestly I didn’t think I did as a student either. But students are the future of our profession. They are who are going to take our profession to the next level. 

I have met some of the most amazing students who are up to some wonderful things and I know will do some big things in the future. 

So do me a favor and remove the word just from your vocabulary. You ARE a student and you are way MORE than just. 

  1. Be creative and use what you have

Your biggest super power as an OT practitioner is that you are creative. You will be able to tackle any tricky case that comes your way and be able to successfully problem solve a solution, even if that solution means figuring it out yourself or referring to another specialist or resource in order to help your clients. 

Use your therapeutic brain to be creative in approaching your work. Some of the best treatment sessions I ever had were ones where I showed up, used what my clients had and just put my own creative and therapeutic spin on the activity. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there

Stand up for your clients, for your classmates or colleagues, and for your profession. Take initiative on things. Allow opportunities to come your way. You’ll never know what is possible if you don’t put yourself out there. 

  1. Never stop learning

I’m sure I’m not the first person who’s preached about being a lifelong learner. 

We have so much to learn about this profession and about the world in general. And when I was a student I thought I had to know it all and would actually be hard on myself when I didn’t know something. 

But know that you are exactly where you need to be at this moment. You don’t know everything and you prolly never will. I still don’t know everything and I’ve been practicing for over 12 years. 

  1. Believe in yourself

OT School is hard, being a new grad is hard, FW is hard… any time you start something new, it is hard. 

But hard doesn’t mean impossible. 

You’ve got this! All you need to do is believe in yourself. 

I actually did a full presentation about this the other week to the Student Occupational Therapy Association at Winston-Salem State University and released the audio as a podcast. Click here to check out the podcast episode. And to view the slides that paired with that presentation, see below.

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