Throughout my time interning at SPROUT OT, I have learned so much about my personal strengths and weaknesses as well as pediatric occupational therapy as a whole. I have enjoyed seeing a different side of pediatric occupational therapy that most entry level students don’t get the opportunity to experience. “Concierge” therapy is a facet of occupational therapy that is not discussed enough when it often is the only option for some families to receive services.
This setting requires a lot of creativity and adaptability to be successful. Things don’t always go as planned and having the ability to think on your toes while continuing to make your services therapeutic is one of the biggest takeaways I have learned from this internship. You have to rely a lot on your surroundings in concierge therapy because you are providing your services to clients in places of their choosing, i.e. their home, their child’s school or day care. A lot of the clients that are seen in this setting are those that don’t always qualify for services in a clinic setting. It is important to take the findings from their evaluation and create an intervention plan that fits into their life and can be achieved in the setting that services are rendered. I found this to be the most difficult aspect of my internship. Every child is different and everything in this setting needs to be individualized for the interventions to be successful. Analyzing activities and integrating frames of reference to guide an intervention plan is something that takes time and higher level skills to feel confident applying throughout the process of providing therapy services. However, through the opportunities provided to me during this internship, I feel like I am on the right track and hope to continue improving on my clinical skills.
Another important aspect in this setting, is the importance of building a good report with the child and the people in their life. This relationship often goes beyond the primary caregivers and can include: teachers, babysitters, school advisors, grandparents etc. Carryover, or the ability to help a client transfer what they learn in their sessions across all environments, is the primary way to measure success as an OT. Our job actually goes beyond providing a 60 minute, once a week treatment session. Our job requires us to provide our clients/families with the tools they need to be successful beyond the treatment session. It is vital as a pediatric OT to be able to effectively communicate why specific interventions have been chosen and how to incorporate them into daily activities so the foundational skills carryover into all settings successfully (home, school, sports field, gym, etc). Without establishing these relationships, effective communication can be extremely difficult and the attempt for successful carryover becomes futile.
In closing, I’d like to provide some advice for fellow level 2 fieldwork students— Don’t ever hesitate to ask questions. We are on these rotations to get real-life experience and to learn! Our job as students is to ask questions and learn from our clinical instructors. Oftentimes, our questions can be a learning opportunity for others too! Don’t feel like you are inadequate, if you are asking questions. Fieldwork is a time for us to apply all the knowledge we have learned in school into real life situations. It can be a hard transition, so it is important to rely on and trust your clinical instructor because they are there to help.
This experience has shown me the importance of using a client-centered approach, individualized intervention plans, creativity and adaptability in the scope of occupational therapy, asking questions, and building a good report. I am grateful for this opportunity and feel honored to have worked alongside the amazing therapists and clients at SPROUT OT. I can confidently say that I will take everything I have learned from this experience and apply it to my skill set to use with my clients wherever this journey will take me!