INTERVIEW WITH SARAH LYON FROM OT-POTENTIAL.COM

What led you to become and occupational therapist?
In 7th grade, I had to profile a job that I was interested in. I found occupational therapy through taking a computer-based job compatibility test. I knew I was interested in a profession where I could help people through a difficult time. I also knew I was interested in a health field, but I was looking for work where I could help the whole person.

The job then fell off my radar for many years. My junior year of college some friends, who were themselves in OT school, encouraged me to consider the career. Off to OT school I went.  ​​

What led you to become and occupational therapist?
In 7th grade, I had to profile a job that I was interested in. I found occupational therapy through taking a computer-based job compatibility test. I knew I was interested in a profession where I could help people through a difficult time. I also knew I was interested in a health field, but I was looking for work where I could help the whole person.

The job then fell off my radar for many years. My junior year of college some friends, who were themselves in OT school, encouraged me to consider the career. 

Off to OT school I went.  

What type of setting do you currently work in?
My career has taken a surprise turn. I am now self-employed and working as a blogger and freelance occupational therapy writer. My main two outlets are my website, otpotential.com, and About.com, where I serve as the occupational therapy expert

Describe what a typical day on the job looks like for you?
I work part-time hours. A typical workday starts with hanging out with my toddler then taking him upstairs to a shared sitter (we live in a large apartment building). I have pretty fast deadlines that I set for myself. I assign myself the morning to get out a draft of one article and in the afternoon I tackle another. 

I do a balance of writing about matters with which I have first-hand experience and areas where I have to do more research. I like to think of myself as a learner and communicator. I am consistently learning more about the work OTs are doing all across the country as well as the research that backs it. 

Breaking the information down into concise, engaging articles is the fun part.  

Before this, I worked as a mental health OT. You can read about what my day-to-day work at a state psychiatric hospital

What advice would you give someone who is interested in the occupational therapy profession?
At the end of the day, you need to decide whether helping people with the intimate details of their daily life is something that you are curious about pursuing. If yes is the answer, then start exploring options. 

Have you thought about being a certified occupational therapy assistant? That is a great career. Have you thought about managing your debt? Doing so may be an important part of landing your ideal job versus having to take the highest paying job. Do you know an area of specialization that you would ultimately like to pursue? Figure out how you can poise yourself early on to get there. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope 10 years looks from now looks much like life does now, where I’m learning lots and striving to communicate well. Only I’ll have more gray hair and possibly a personal robot. 

Over the next 5 years, I would like to continue to grow my website and eventually return to clinical practice, perhaps in a more specialized capacity.

What is your favorite thing about being an occupational therapist?
Whether I’m working in a nursing home or sitting at my desk crafting blog posts, empowering patients is my passion and favorite part of being an occupational therapist. It is thrilling to be working at a time when more information than ever is available to patients (and healthcare providers). The challenge of the next years will be to continue channeling the information revolution into better outcomes. 

Quote to live by?
Of all places, this quote comes from a book on ecological literacy. I discovered the words in college and have found them helpful in defining meaningful work.

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” – David Orr

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