At Pediatric Therapeutic Services (PTS), we strive to support and uplift our therapists every day, so that they can provide students with the services they need.
To show you what it’s like to be a therapist with PTS, here’s the story of Jen, one of our dedicated occupational therapists. Read ahead to discover how Jen found her way to Occupational Therapy (OT) and how she puts students first with the PTS team!
Discovering a Passion for Occupational Therapy
After completing a community impact senior project working at a therapeutic horseback riding facility, Jen discovered a passion for Occupational Therapy. Originally planning to study nursing, Jen shifted her focus and dove headfirst into all the OT-related courses offered at her high school.
She attended Alvernia College to study OT and came to realize later that one of her professors also worked for PTS. Once she earned her certification, we helped to place Jen with a local school district as an occupational therapist.
PTS Was the Perfect Fit
Jen has worked with PTS for two years now (and counting). As an advocate for taking a holistic and team-based approach to therapeutic services, she found that she connects with PTS’s Whole-Child Approach. She also truly cares about her students—or her kiddos as she affectionately calls them—so being able to provide OT in a school-based setting feels especially rewarding.
What Is it Like to Work for PTS?
Just as PTS takes a whole-child approach to related services, Jen found that her directors take the same approach with their therapists. This leads to a culture of mutual respect among team members, led by Clinical Directors who truly take the time to listen to what their therapists need. They facilitate communication between teachers, school administrators, and therapists.
For example, when Jen needs extra support, her Clinical Director advocates for her to get the response she needs from her school. Since working with PTS, Jen has developed a close working relationship with her Clinical Director, whom she meets with monthly.
She’s also had many opportunities for ongoing professional development and support, including regular trainings for license renewals and certifications.
Navigating a Pandemic as a School-Based Occupational Therapist
During her school-based therapy work, Jen has seen firsthand the ways in which the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges students face. Many of them have missed developmental milestones due to limited face-to-face exposure and access to supplies.
Team-Based Problem Solving in Action
Jen and the entire PTS team have sought ways to support students whose development has been hindered due to a lack of social interaction and play time. Since telehealth limits critical in-person supports, there has been an uptick in:
- Low self-confidence
- Anxiety leaving home
- Withdrawn behaviors
- Students not wanting to attend sessions
In response, Jen and the PTS team facilitated communication and sharing of resources between everyone on each student’s care team, including parents, teachers, and case managers. With support from PTS, Jen does all she can for her students, including building and sending out home therapy kits. She has also made activities for her students, especially for those without access to or funding for therapy equipment.
Addressing the Root Cause Enables Students to Access Support
PTS therapists seek to understand the root cause of what is going on for each individual child. By collaborating with parents, teachers, and case managers, therapists like Jen work hard to ensure students can access their therapy treatment to the fullest.
PTS takes an all-in-this-together approach that:
- Empowers parents to support students at home
- Strengthens relationships between parents and therapists
- Helps parents build confidence and develop a deeper understanding of their child’s needs
Responding to Growing Caseloads in Post-Pandemic Programming
Though typical therapy caseloads hover around 70 students, Jen currently has 90 students, including children ages three through up to 14 or 15. Many therapists are seeing similarly higher caseloads due to the pandemic, which indicates an immediate need for an innovative approach that keeps caseloads manageable. PTS delivers that approach.
Keeping Therapy Caseloads Manageable for Therapists
PTS’s Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Approach keeps therapy caseloads manageable, which is more important than ever in a post-pandemic world. This innovative approach diverts evaluation requests by implementing more push-in sessions and interventions.
The result: more students develop the basic OT skills they need to succeed, and therapists have what they need to avoid burnout.
What Tips Does Jen Have for New OTs?
When we asked Jen what advice she’d give to her younger self, she said she’d remind herself to:
- Set limits
- Practice self-care
- Maintain healthy boundaries between work and life
- Ask for help when needed
When working with students, Jen suggests taking time to build rapport and trust. To help students flourish, she focuses on providing individualized attention and positive reinforcement, even in group settings. Though it may be difficult at times, Jen also recommends therapists set clear boundaries for both themselves and students, especially when it comes to personal space and belongings.
By getting the support you need from PTS, you can serve your students to the best of your ability while also taking care of yourself, just like Jen.
Follow Your Passion for OT With PTS
If you’re ready to follow in Jen’s footsteps as a school-based occupational therapist with PTS, then we can help you get started. As a member of our growing team, you’ll receive the support you deserve, and the tools needed to succeed as a school-based therapist. Apply online to our open positions, or contact us to learn more!