5 Great Reasons to Accept a School-Based Therapy Job
By Ed Lamb, Contributor
School-based therapy jobs exist for occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists. Nurses with the appropriate training, experience and certifications can also fill school-based therapy jobs.
But why should you take one of the many school therapist positions listed on the Med Travelers job board? Consider these five reasons.
1. When School-Based Therapy Jobs Go Unfilled, the Neediest Children Go Unserved
The Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires all public school districts in the United States to provide “special education and related services” to children with needs ranging from autism to cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders. Children with musculoskeletal disorders and young injury victims also often require ongoing, individualized occupational, physical and speech therapy.
If you seek a challenging and rewarding job, working in an IDEA-compliant school will deliver.
2. School-Based Therapy Jobs Are Growing in Number
No exact numbers on how many school-based therapy jobs go unfilled each semester exist, but keep in mind that each public school district should have at least one opening for an allied health professional who can work with students on communication, learning, reading, movement and socialization. The 2010 U.S. Census found 13,588 regular public school districts. Obviously, positions will become available each school year.
Also, as pre-K through 12 school voucher programs proliferate, private and charter schools increasingly need OTs, PTs and SLPs to work with students who qualify to receive services under IDEA.
3. Summers Off Come Standard With School-Based Therapy Jobs
Few other travel health assignments deliver the combination of job security, easily planned and scheduled time off, and paid career development opportunities as school-based therapy jobs. The contracts often run for 23-28 weeks, or an entire school year for the location, and the terms grant federal and state holidays, professional development days, winter and spring breaks, and summer vacations -- just like teachers.
4. School-Based Therapy Jobs Show Results
OTs, PTs and SLPs who work in school spend their time designing and implementing individualized treatment plans for a small number of students. They work with the same children over several months, which means they see real-time progress toward learning and functional goals.
They can measure outcomes over fixed periods and make instantaneous adjustments to patient plans when doing so becomes necessary to spur progress or to reach new goals.
School-based therapists also have the opportunity to assist children from a broad cross-section of society. Since schools that accept funds to provide IDEA services must admit all students regardless of national origin or native language, therapists who treat those students regularly find themselves gaining cross-cultural skills they would not acquire in hospital or clinic settings.
5. Job Satisfaction Increases for School-Based Therapy Jobs
In a conference paper titled “Comparison of Job Satisfaction in Occupational Therapy Settings,” Lori Hellickson, Dawn Knapp, and Stephanie Ritter noted that 95.4 percent of school-based OTs in Wisconsin “reported a rating of good or better for their perception of overall job satisfaction.” This compared with 66.6 percent of OTs who practiced in other settings who expressed the same degree of job satisfaction.
Several limitations apply to this finding based on a relatively small sampling of a single group of allied health professionals in one state. But look at the difference. Obviously, school-based therapist found their work significantly more personally and professionally rewarding.
Further, the higher degree of satisfaction existed across nearly all variables, with school-based OTs ranking client interactions, interpersonal interactions with co-workers and perceptions of benefits higher than did their non-school-based counterparts.
These five reasons to take school therapist positions don’t even touch on the benefits of high pay and adventure that are common to all travel assignments for OTs, PTs and SLPs. Factor in those, and you owe it to yourself to give school-based therapist jobs a serious look.
School Based Therapy Jobs