Travel Therapist Enjoys One-on-One Successes
Zita MacDow, MSc (OT), left a business career to help people in occupational therapy
By Debra Wood, RN, contributor
Occupational therapist Zita MacDow, MSc (OT), BComm, who travels with Med Travelers, worked in business after earning a commerce degree, but decided she wanted more--she wanted to help others on a more personal level. She felt that something in healthcare would be a good choice, and after researching various professions she discovered occupational therapy.
Why did you choose occupational therapy?
It is easy to take for granted the things we can do for ourselves every day. Even the simple act of being able to get dressed and brush one’s own teeth can be very important to clients who can’t do this for themselves. Helping OT clients to set and achieve their own functional goals, however big or small they may be, feels very meaningful and rewarding.
Have you had any memorable moments as an OT?
I’m lucky because I have those moments fairly often. I always remember client’s faces, which sometimes register surprise and often satisfaction when they realize they can do something they didn’t think was possible before. The appreciation and gratitude I feel from my clients when I help them reach a goal is the reward.
Why work as a travel therapist?
I was working in inpatient rehab and enjoyed it, but I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to expand my knowledge and experience in other practice areas. I felt working as a travel therapist would give me a good opportunity to do that. I’ve worked in Oregon and California since I started, and continue to enjoy it.
I’ve practiced in skilled facilities, some outpatient, acute care and home care. An advantage to being a traveler is I’ve had an opportunity to try different settings, but I found I like home care best. There is so much variety. No two days are ever the same.
You get to work with a lot of therapists. You see a lot of different approaches and what other therapists are doing. It broadens your knowledge and skill set. It’s challenging but rewarding. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to do it.
Any advice for OTs thinking of traveling?
Have confidence in your skills and don’t be afraid to try new things. One of the qualities we need is to be self-directed. Knowing what questions to ask and how to find answers is important. You’re expected to hit the ground running. You need to draw upon the experience you have and to be adaptable. Try to have fun and explore the landscape where you travel. There is always a lot to see and do outside of work, and, as we know in OT, that balance is important.
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