Nursing or Occupational Therapy ?

  1. Should I be a Nurse or Occupational Therapist?

    I'm currently working on the prerequisites to apply to be in the class entering in 2010. I'm thirtysomething and this would be a second degree for me in a different field (I majored in German and History at a seven sister's school).

    I'm trying to decide between nursing or occupational therapy. My interests include gerontology, and with the aging population, I am hoping to have a specialty with continued demand. I currently work with helping older people re-home their accumulated "things" to prepare to move to smaller quarters. I am an entrepreneur and greatly appreciate the autonomy but know that it cannot last forever.

    My Aunt has been a RN for many years, and I cannot tell you how many nursing homes she has worked in and how many times she has lost jobs do to business issues (lack of funds) at the "home" to pay for an RN.
    Her wages have gone up and down over the years.

    I've also gone through some extensive time being a patient and have seen Drs. many times treat nurses as if they don't have a clue, when they often know better what is going on. I've also read about burn out being a big problem.

    I'm comparing it to Occupational Therapy as I am fascinated by helping people do what they want to do through the use of adaptive devices.

    So, if you could start over, which would you pick? And why?

    Many thanks in advance!

    -An "undecided" Virginian
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    About sarahcurzon

    Joined: Jun '09; Posts: 1; Likes: 1

    23 Comments

  3. by   lindarn
    Quote from sarahcurzon
    Should I be a Nurse or Occupational Therapist?

    I'm currently working on the prerequisites to apply to be in the class entering in 2010. I'm thirtysomething and this would be a second degree for me in a different field (I majored in German and History at a seven sister's school).

    I'm trying to decide between nursing or occupational therapy. My interests include gerontology, and with the aging population, I am hoping to have a specialty with continued demand. I currently work with helping older people re-home their accumulated "things" to prepare to move to smaller quarters. I am an entrepreneur and greatly appreciate the autonomy but know that it cannot last forever.

    My Aunt has been a RN for many years, and I cannot tell you how many nursing homes she has worked in and how many times she has lost jobs do to business issues (lack of funds) at the "home" to pay for an RN.
    Her wages have gone up and down over the years.

    I've also gone through some extensive time being a patient and have seen Drs. many times treat nurses as if they don't have a clue, when they often know better what is going on. I've also read about burn out being a big problem.

    I'm comparing it to Occupational Therapy as I am fascinated by helping people do what they want to do through the use of adaptive devices.

    So, if you could start over, which would you pick? And why?

    Many thanks in advance!

    -An "undecided" Virginian
    I would choose Occupational Therapy over nursing in a heartbeat. Nurses are treated like dirt, our salaries and working conditions are on the whim of abusive management, workloads are impossible, I could go on.

    Yes, there are fewer slots for OTm, HOWEVER, OT is not saturated like nursing is. They take great pains to ensure that they keep themselves in damand, by graduating fewer OTs. They are all glad that the entrance requirements went to a Masters. Why are they happy to have to go to school for a longer period of time? Because it skims potential students away from the career field, and then they go into nursing so they can get out of school in just two short years (and if you don't think that this a factor, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you).

    All in all, I would take OT over nursing any day of the week. JMHO and my NY $0.02.

    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Spokane, Washington

    Ots can open independant businesses, like PTs do, and be their own boss. They learn about starting a business while they are in college- it is a required part of the curriculum. OTs are far more respected in the hospital- I don't recall hearing about OTs or PTs being swung at in the ER, Nursing homes, etc.
  4. by   mauxtav8r
    I don't really see OT's being respected more than RN's --- quite the opposite. Just telling what I see.

    One of my classmates was formerly an OT. Don't know why she went to the time and trouble to go for BSN. But she did.

    Best wishes.
  5. by   Gentle Giant
    I'm in a similar boat in regards to choosing between nursing and OT. I've shadowed both RNs and OTs, and I did like the OT work better: more one-on-one interaction with patients, seemed to be more autonomy, chance to visit different floors of the hospital.
    However, there are some drawbacks that keep me leaning towards nursing. A BSN seems to offer much more of a broad platform for areas of specialization. The masters options seem numerous: MSN/MPH, RN/MSW, NP, etc. etc. I feel that if I choose OT I will be shutting out a lot of advanced nursing opportunities. I have a strong interest in mental health and public health. Being a beside RN would not be my end goal, but it is something that I "think" I could tolerate for a while before getting a masters. But on the other hand, it did seem like the daily life of an OT would be more satisfying for me, at least in the short term.

    So, I'm curious to get some feedback on my thoughts? Where do you think I'm correct or incorrect on my points above? What else should I consider?

    Thanks!

    Brent
  6. by   elkpark
    For what it's worth, the OTs I've known over the years have been much happier about being OTs than the RNs I've known have been happy about being RNs.
  7. by   HmarieD
    My best friend and I were in school at the same time, me for nursing and her for COTA. When we compared notes at the end of the day, I was always jealous. I gave soap sud enemas til clear, she made birdhouses out of popsicle sticks. I cleaned and dressed pseudomonas infected wounds, she worked puzzles.

    Obviously there was more to her COTA program then fun and games (and of course learning how these are therapeutic), but she just seemed to be having a heck of a lot more fun than me.

    Now she makes about the same $$ as me, and works no holidays or weekends. With a two yr COTA. I guess you can figure out what I wish I had done.
  8. by   CuriousCC
    I'm dealing with the same predicament! Nursing or OT? I'm leaning towards OT myself. I would love to hear more input...
  9. by   want2banurse35
    If I don't get into a nursing program next fall I am definitely going the OT route. I once considered SLP but decided against it. I have shadowed all and I really like OT. It didn't make me nervous like nursing did. I talked to a rep at an OT program and she said that all of their class of 2010 graduates had multiple job offers with bonuses. While I would love to be a nurse I just can't afford to wait to get into these competitive programs here in Ca. I am fine as long as I can provide a service that is helping people.
  10. by   DinaOT
    I am an O.T. and have been for the past 10 years. I have learned that I like working in hospitals the best, vs outpatient or SNFs or ALFs, etc. I like working with the medically acute patient. Sitting around with a patient working puzzles, or doing crafts is boring to me. Yes, it can be therapeutic, but boring. I like the setting of a hospital and the teamwork of MD's, NP's, PA's, RN's, PT's, OT's, etc to get a patient medically stable in order to move on to their next step of rehab, or home, whichever fits. As such, I have decided to do a fast track RN, then on to Master's in Nursing to be an NP. I think I will be happier with that profession than I am with OT. I like to analyze and figure out what's going on with a patient, then address the issue. If you're thinking of OT school, it should be because you want to rehab someone through neuromuscular re-education, therapeutic exercises, activity tolerance building through graded activity, etc., not because you want to sit around and do crafts. Anyone can do that.
  11. by   mustlovepoodles
    Quote from DinaOT
    I am an O.T. and have been for the past 10 years. I have learned that I like working in hospitals the best, vs outpatient or SNFs or ALFs, etc. I like working with the medically acute patient. Sitting around with a patient working puzzles, or doing crafts is boring to me. Yes, it can be therapeutic, but boring. I like the setting of a hospital and the teamwork of MD's, NP's, PA's, RN's, PT's, OT's, etc to get a patient medically stable in order to move on to their next step of rehab, or home, whichever fits. As such, I have decided to do a fast track RN, then on to Master's in Nursing to be an NP. I think I will be happier with that profession than I am with OT. I like to analyze and figure out what's going on with a patient, then address the issue. If you're thinking of OT school, it should be because you want to rehab someone through neuromuscular re-education, therapeutic exercises, activity tolerance building through graded activity, etc., not because you want to sit around and do crafts. Anyone can do that.
    What is the minimum degree requirement for OTs? I would think that might be a consideration for the OP. I know that PT requires a PhD now. Not sure about OT.

    There have been times that I wish I had gone into OT. The work is very appealing to me. My youngest son(15) has been in and out of OT & PT all his life. He has taken both OT & PT in the water, in the office, in school, and on horseback. It is nothing short of a joy working with this therapists!
  12. by   want2banurse35
    The minimum for OT is a masters. It used to be just a bachelor's but they changed it. One of my classmates just got accepted into a graduate OT program.
  13. by   Zookeeper3
    Neither, I would never enter the service industry, ahm, health industry
  14. by   DinaOT
    Currently, OT requires a Master's. There is a movement for it to be a doctorate in the future, however. You have to have a Bachelor's, have certain pre-req's (usually Chem, Biology, Psych, etc), and you have to take the GRE in order to get in to OT school. Volunteer hours in OT are usually needed as well.
    There are some schools that offer a doctorate in OT (OTD).
    The physical therapy doctorate is a DPT. If one has a PhD, it is usually in education or philosophy, etc.

    Yes, I agree with you, pediatric OT can be very appealing, especially if you like working with children. I have in the past, and enjoyed it, but my calling is in acute care. And there I must go!

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