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Teaching or occupational therapy

(51 Posts)
Allthecolours Mon 11-Feb-19 06:55:56

If you had your time again would you choose teaching or occupational therapy?

Background
I have wanted to become a primary school teacher for most of my adult life. I left university to have my first child when I was younger.

I have since been studying for my degree with the ou and I have two last modules to choose. I want to choose modules which will relate to the career I choose to go into.

I am considering occupational therapy instead of teaching because I have heard so many horror stories about the workload in teaching. I am also worried about having spent most of my adult life trying to get into a particular career only to burn out a few years in.

I get the feeling that most occupational therapists love their job. I would still get the chance to work with children eventually if I choose OT instead. But it hasn't been my long term dream.

I partly liked the idea of teaching to teach abroad but with 3 children now this would be very difficult. I could settle with just earning better money to travel in my free time.

I really want a career that I mostly love but doesn't take up every second of my free time.

Sorry for the rambling. Please share your stories and wisdom. Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Tookal Mon 11-Feb-19 06:58:54

What type of occupational therapy would you like to do? Benefit of chosing it would be that you could work in a range of settings. Could you set up some shadowing to get a chance to see what its like?

Cahms/ ld ots often have very large case loads. Ot is potentially more difficult to travel with

weaselwords Mon 11-Feb-19 07:04:02

Occupational therapy. No working in the evenings or weekends like with teaching. Holidays aren’t as long, but I think much better work/life balance.

bruffin Mon 11-Feb-19 07:06:38

You will need to do some shadowing anyway to apply for an OT uni course.
Dd is in her first year studying OT and just done her first 5 week placement. It was a forensic mental health placement in a medium secure unit. She really enjoyed it, but it was hard work,.

Piggywaspushed Mon 11-Feb-19 07:10:14

I read on MN recently that there aren't all that many opportunities and career progression isn't great in OT. However, I still think it would be less soul destroying than teaching can be and a better work life balance, definitely. I imagine OT brings with it its own stresses in terms of the difficulties many of the people face who you would be working with.

Piggywaspushed Mon 11-Feb-19 07:14:55

I think someone's 'dream' to be a teacher is often because teaching is such a familiar job to everyone and it sounds, on the face of it, like you are putting something back into society. People don't have 'dreams' generally to do more obscure jobs (your average primary school aged child can only name about 7 different jobs apparently and formulate job ambitions from this!) : but that doesn't mean they aren't better fits. I think there are so many disappointed teachers because they have couched what are really just 'aspirations' or 'ambitions' in idealised langauge, such as 'dream'.

puglife Mon 11-Feb-19 07:18:15

I'm an OT. There are areas where you would have to work shifts and/or weekends but not many so easy to avoid.
If you want to work with children there are a few options within OT to do that. I work with both adults and children and enjoy having a mix. You won't build up the same relationships with the children as you would in teaching, but it is rewarding.

Tookal Mon 11-Feb-19 07:33:43

I think its worth saying though that theres a huge shift to 7 day a week working in the nhs, and ot is part of this. Its prehaps not as weekend heavy as say nursing but out of 10 people who im in contact with from my course 7 are expected to work some weekends (variety of physical and mental health settings)

TooOldForThisWhoCares Mon 11-Feb-19 07:42:59

I would say OT is a more flexible degree in that you don't necessarily have to work in the NHS once you're qualified, the NHS obviously has it's own issues! I lasted a year in the NHS after I qualified and now work in a charity (job title not an OT but using those skills).

I think OTs in the NHS are subject to a lot of stress and it's not the "nice" job it once was. Plus I found some other NHS staff, especially nurses and support staff, looked down on Ots and really didn't understand what OTs did- just expected them to provide activities for people. OTs often spend their whole careers explaining what it is they actually do and even then there is a general lack of understanding unless you work in the physical side of stuff which is all about equipment. I can't compare it to teaching but I would say beware of it seeming a stress-free alternative as I don't believe it is.

littlemisscynical Mon 11-Feb-19 08:36:02

Another OT here. I now specialise in Mental Health. Definitely not stress free 🤣 a lot of my colleagues are now senior managers within the trust.

Allthecolours Mon 11-Feb-19 09:41:24

O wow thank you for all the replies. Some really valid points and interesting experiences.

I would prefer to work in children's mental health as my first preference within OT. Then either children's physical health or adults mental health. I would work in adults physical health to get experience but I wouldn't want to stay in that area.

I am not looking for a stress free job. But equally I don't want to be working constantly throughout my days off and evenings.

I wouldn't mind working the odd weekend with OT but whilst my children are young I couldn't do evenings. Although this wouldn't be a problem once they are older.

That is an interesting point about progression. This is really important to me. Not necessarily the extra money but I like to feel like I am always getting somewhere.

The 'dream' language is a good point. I guess I really just value education. I like the idea of working with children day to day and building relationships with them. Also being part of teaching them skills to improve their life chances and happiness.

I am planning on getting a part time job in the area I choose to go in to once my youngest starts school in September until I finish my degree. Hopefully this will strengthen my application to either the pgce or MSc in OT. I want to get this right so my work experience is relevant.

My favourite part of my degree has been the child psychology.

Thank you all for your replies. It has given me a lot to think about.

OP’s posts: |
HexagonalBattenburg Mon 11-Feb-19 12:39:05

OT really interested me when we had a course of it with DD2 recently - but it interested me because how it related to what I'd seen in the classroom working as a teacher more than anything else. The paediatric OT departments around here are horrifically overworked though - we've been waiting 5+ months for a report and recommendations after DD2's course of sessions and they're very much a "four sessions and you're done" so I don't know if you'd get the relationship building aspect of things you're after - it seems to be "teach the parents to do it, discharge and get the report out to the school" as a system these days.

Throwing another one into the mix - I'm currently applying to career change and train in Speech and Language Therapy.

Holidayshopping Mon 11-Feb-19 12:43:09

Throwing another one into the mix - I'm currently applying to career change and train in Speech and Language Therapy.

I would love to do this. What do you need to do to leave teaching to retrain as a SaLT? Is it a masters?

HexagonalBattenburg Mon 11-Feb-19 12:46:23

There's a BSc and Masters route for it - I've got applications in for both at the moment but obviously any shadowing and relevant experience you can get adds weight to your application. Limited range of unis offer it though - got an interview next week for the one I really really want - eek!

Piggywaspushed Mon 11-Feb-19 12:53:31

Oooohhhh, how much is that going to cost you battenburg , and how long have you been teaching? I, too, would like to do this but am late 40s and have no science qualifications.... It's the one degree I wish I had actually applied for back in th Dark Ages (that or audiology)

Holidayshopping Mon 11-Feb-19 12:55:44

What’s the pros and cons of the masters? How long and how much does it cost?

I’ve been teaching for 20 years and SEN for 5. I need out now sad

Allthecolours Mon 11-Feb-19 12:57:31

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I do think that I would miss the relationship building aspect with OT but maybe not having so much work to do at home could make up for this.

I have a similar experience with speech and language that you have with OT regarding assess, write report, teach parents and then leave. To put it briefly.

Speech and language doesn't appeal as much to me. I don't know why. English was my least favourite subject at school. I feel like there is a lot more scope with OT to work in different areas too. Good luck with your applications HexagonalBattenburg.

OP’s posts: |
LanieM87 Mon 11-Feb-19 13:03:05

I’m an occupational therapist in adult social care, it certainly has its stresses, but usually when I walk out the door at the end of the day they stay there and I don’t think about it again til the next day. No weekend working here which is a bonus.
There is progression within OT, you are limited to a degree unless you want to do management. Personally for me, the fact that OT is so varied keeps it interesting and every day I’m learning and being challenged no two cases are the same within social care!

HexagonalBattenburg Mon 11-Feb-19 13:10:28

Piggy - you can get the full undergraduate student finance package for it (even the Masters) even if you've had a previous student loan because of it being one of the courses that's been hit by the removal of the NHS bursary system. The one I really want is the 2 year Masters - with a shitter of a commute for me but not un-doable but I've got undergrad UCAS applications in as well at the moment as a plan B.

Piggywaspushed Mon 11-Feb-19 13:24:39

Interesting, thanks!

No danger of a previous loan : too old! I come from the Full Grant prehistoric days!!

I looked it up : the nearest one to me is really very far away sad

Allthecolours Mon 11-Feb-19 14:28:30

That sounds like something I would enjoy Lanie M87, although preferably with children.

Well getting it all written down and hearing all of the responses has helped me come to a decision that I have been pondering over for a while.

Occpational therapy it is.

Thank you all.

I have been researching and they seem to be in the process of making an undergraduate and postgraduate degree apprenticeship for OT so hopefully that may work. If not I will apply for the traditional masters route at university.

OP’s posts: |
littlemisscynical Mon 11-Feb-19 14:29:51

Unfortunately that is the case in most OT jobs now OP. I do have a lot of patient contact now as I work in a clinic based mental health setting. A large part of my role is generic and I complete the same work as the mental health nurses and social workers on the team. For every new patient assessment I complete I have approx 1.5 hours of notes to complete afterwards.

But I've worked in rotational posts when I first qualified moving to a different setting every six months. In a lot of them I would complete my assessments and then devise a treatment plan and give it to the OT assistant to complete. Or do my assessment, complete report and discharge the patient.

A few of my colleagues have went on to complete CBT training. I might go down this route myself.

Allthecolours Mon 11-Feb-19 14:36:27

I think that is a bit of a shame but then I think that is the way most public sector jobs are going.

The CBT training sounds interesting. I have done a counselling module as part of my degree.

I guess that is the thing with OT there are other opportunities whereas there isn't that many others areas to go with teaching.

OP’s posts: |
OneAndDoneForNow Mon 11-Feb-19 14:53:17

I'm an OT and what I would say is that there are very few paediatric OT jobs, you are much more likely to get a job with adults. The reason being that few kids need OT in comparison to the elderly population in particular. One of my collegues recently managed to side step into paeds but went down a grade to be able to do so.

Have you considered teaching children with additional needs? Or teaching in a hospital setting? Alternatively I know some people who have done their nursing degree followed by post grad teaching and are all now working as specialist teachers.

littlemisscynical Mon 11-Feb-19 15:09:18

It really is a shame. I love patient contact. But I seem to be spending less and less time seeing patients. We are under serious pressure to discharge patients quickly and it's all about targets and waiting lists.

I complete memory assessments and memory rehab with under 65s referred by GP also. I am expected to do this alongside my generic practitioner role which is a full caseload in itself.

I am a band 6. CBT practitioners are band 7. The trust will pay for most of your fees to
do your qualification. But I've been advised to wait until my family is up a bit as apparently the course is very intensive.

There are a lot of band 7 OT specialist roles available. A lot are or include being a manager or professional lead. But I know plenty who are band 7 clinicians with no management responsibilities.

I have worked with quite a few staff who say if they could go back in time they would have did OT.

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