Category Archives: Occupational Therapy School

The High Price of Becoming an OT

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Hello all, and happy New Year! I’ve been out of the blogosphere for quite some time due to a series of very fortunate events in the past several months, including:

  • Graduating from OT school
  • Studying for and passing the NBCOT exam
  • Getting married to my significant other of 7 years (and counting!)
  • Going on an amazing honeymoon to sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico!
  • Applying and interviewing for various OT jobs
  • Traveling to visit family and friends
  • Accepting a position as a school-based OT for a large school system

 

As you can see, I’ve been keeping pretty busy! But I’m hoping that in the new year I will get back to blogging more regularly and keeping anyone out there who cares updated on my transition from new grad to new practitioner.

On that note, I’ve been keeping a close eye on what it has actually cost me to get to this point in my career (or rather on the cusp of my new career, which will actually start on Thursday!). I did not include the cost of my OT school tuition/fees, as this number varies widely across programs. However, I have calculated exactly what I spent as I journeyed from student to practitioner over the past several months to give current and prospective OT students a realistic assessment of what it costs to become an OT.

Although I had a vague idea of what it would cost to take the boards, apply for a license, etc. I was still blindsided by how much money I needed upfront to actually become a licensed, registered occupational therapist. In the grand scheme of things the amount below might not seem like a lot, when it comes directly out of one’s shallow grad student pockets within a couple of days, it can be quite the financial blow. In hindsight, I recommend that OT/A students who are approaching the end of their academic careers calculate exactly what they will be spending and begin saving for (or set aside) the necessary funds to cover these costs.

nbcot-cost

*The procedure for transferring exam scores varies by state, so confirm with previous program graduates or professors to ensure you are paying for the correct service in your state.

**Students in my program receive this book as a graduation gift from program faculty. Because it is so widely used by OT students preparing for the NBCOT exam, the value of a NEW book with digital resources (CD) is included here.

 

POTENTIAL COSTS

In addition to my actual costs to take the NBCOT exam and apply for licensure in my state, I could have paid hundreds more if I had purchased additional study materials, such as:

Other possible (but easily avoidable) fees are those charged for switching exam dates ($50), arriving late or bringing the incorrect documents to the testing center ($175), or failing to take the exam within the time allotted after the issuance of the Authorization to Test Letter ($75-175).

Because I mostly used “free” resources provided by my OT program faculty and a friend’s subscription to an online study tool, my actual out-of-pocket cost for study materials for 1.5 months of studying was only $46 – and I passed the exam on the first try! Depending on the type and amount of study materials you purchase, your costs may be more or less than mine. And while I can’t tell you how much is the “right” amount to spend on study materials, I do think the rates some of these services are charging are ridiculous and borderline unethical…

I believe that most OT/A programs are graduating students who are well-prepared to take the exam, even if they might need to spend time reviewing specific interventions, developmental stages, measurements, etc. to answer some questions. While I wasn’t 100% cool, calm, and collected on the day I took the exam, I did feel confident in my clinical reasoning skills, practical knowledge, and overall ability to pass.


Ultimately, actually becoming a licensed, registered OT isn’t easy or inexpensive. I spent the bare minimum on study materials and exam costs, and still it was almost $900 when all was said and done. I’m thankful that my family was able to help me cover some of these costs and help me complete the final steps in becoming an occupational therapist, and I’m proud to say that I am now Lauren Jones, MS, OTR/L!

 

The 8 People You Meet in OT School

 

The 8 People You Meet in OT School

After two years of being in class with the same 21 people every day, I think I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my classmates’ strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. Some are more laid-back, and some are more high-strung. Some try to find the positive in every situation, and others have a more pessimistic point of view, but everybody excels in different ways and has something unique to offer!

 

Anyone who’s been in OT school before can probably tell you about the classic personality types you’ll encounter as an OT student, but if you don’t have anybody to ask, read on to find out what you have to look forward to!

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Funding Your OT Education, Part III: During OT School

This post is Part III of a four-part series to help occupational therapy students and practitioners find ways to fund their OT education.

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This post is full of tips, advice, and resources for current OT students who are looking to save money as they pursue their degrees! In case you missed them, you can read the first two parts of my Funding Your OT Education series for advice about how to find funding for OT school and what you can do before starting OT school to make the most of your money.

Read on to learn about ways you can save as an OT student!
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Funding Your OT Education, Part II: Before OT School

 

This post is Part II of a four-part series to help occupational therapy students and practitioners find ways to fund their OT education. You can read Part I here.


 

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People who are applying to OT school are often in the difficult position of deciding which program they will attend before they have a 100% clear understanding of what their financial situation will be at each institution. It’s a tough spot to be in, but these tips will help potential OT students avoid as much debt as possible from the start of the application process onward.

Note: These tips are primarily geared towards students applying to graduate level occupational therapy programs, which are generally more expensive than occupational therapy assistant programs. However, much of the information still applies no matter which OT degree you are pursuing!

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Funding Your OT Education, Part I: How to Find Funding

This post is Part I of a four-part series to help occupational therapy students and practitioners find ways to fund their OT education.


 

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Welcome to Part I of the Gotta Be OT “Funding Your OT Education” series! The goal of this post is to introduce you to my tried-and-true method of identifying, organizing, and pursuing funding opportunities for your OT education. Whether you are a prospective student, a current student, a new graduate, or even a veteran therapist with student debt to repay, this series will help you understand how you can get off on the right foot or get on track with your educational expenses.

 

The diagrams below represent the way I recommend conceptualizing and organizing your funding search process. The pyramid structure represents the relationship between the level of funding and the number of competitors you’ll likely have for that funding. (The smaller the segment, the smaller the number of competitors, and vice versa.)

Funding Triangles

 

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Free Magazines for OT Practitioners

 

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Hello again! The holiday season has come and gone, and we have officially entered that time of year when people are pinching pennies, making resolutions to save, and crossing their fingers in hopes that they’ll get a tax refund and not owe anything back!

If any of these scenarios rings true for you, you’ll be excited to learn that you can honor your resolutions and save a few bucks by spending absolutely nothing to access these free magazines with helpful articles, job postings, and information for OT students and practitioners! Below is a selection of six free publications that OT/As can read for treatment ideas, discussion of professional issues, product recommendations, and more!

P.S. (If you’re strapped for cash and looking for a good gift for an OT/A friend or coworker, a free magazine subscription will make them happy while saving you some money!)

Even if you are a dedicated reader of AOTA’s OT Practice magazine, I recommend signing up to receive digital editions of a few more magazines to help you sharpen practice skills, gain new perspectives on the profession, and improve your interactions with clients and families.

Read on to find out what’s free for those who practice OT!

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Top 6 Reasons to Volunteer at the 2016 AOTA Annual Conference & Expo

 

Do you like…

Saving money?

Making friends?

Making a difference?

If so, then you should sign up to volunteer at the 2016 AOTA Annual Conference & Expo in Chicago, Illinois! I volunteered at the Baltimore conference a couple years ago for practically nothing, and it was easily one of the highlights of my early OT experience. I was also able to attend last year’s conference in Nashville, and the time I spent there just confirmed that I had chosen the perfect profession.

There were volunteers of all ages and stages at the conference, including retired OTs, veteran volunteers with 10+ years of experience, current and future OT students, and others. Don’t let your age, student status, or anything else deter you from serving in Chicago this spring! You don’t have to be an AOTA member to volunteer – but you’ll probably want to be one when you’re done!

In addition to helping support and promote one of the fastest-growing, influential, and dynamic professions around, there are several other benefits that come with being a conference volunteer. Read on to find out more about why volunteering will be the best thing you can do for yourself and your career in OT!

Top 6 Reasons to Volunteer at AOTA Conference.png


 

  1. Meet some of the most influential people in the profession. As a conference volunteer, you have the chance to meet the people whose blogs you read, whose papers you’ve referenced, and whose Twitters you follow in person! Rubbing elbows with such accomplished (and really nice) people is a major high and a can’t-miss networking opportunity!
  2. Cut the cost of attending Conference. Conference attendees must pay nearly $300 simply to attend, and that’s the student rate – not including travel, food, lodging, and other expenses! But volunteers can view special exhibits, attend one or two sessions, and see the posters for FREE. As a volunteer, you won’t necessarily be able to attend the session of your choice or participate in all events, but you will get to experience many of the best parts of the conference without paying for much of anything! Pro Tip: Check with your OT program, graduate student association, or employer to see whether there are special funds available to help cover your travel and other expenses. 
  3. Attend the Expo for FREE! Where else in the world can you get a TON of free stuff in exchange for just a few hours of your time? Just think: in the time it took you to sit through one overly long OT school class, you could be having fun, making friends, and earning your way into the Expo. You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that this is too good a deal to pass up! Note: Only AOTA Marketplace/Member Resource Center volunteers can earn this privilege. 
  4. Diversify your resume and grow your professional experience. Volunteering at the national conference shows that you are involved and invested in your national professional association and your profession as a whole. Whether you are planning to apply for a leadership or volunteer position with AOTA, a position in your state OT association, or even a job, having a record of service to the profession will definitely give you a boost.
  5. Make a difference and be an advocate for OT. Have you ever wondered how all those bags get stuffed, how all those signs get posted, or how an event with thousands of attendees seems to run so smoothly? It’s not magic – it’s volunteers! By serving as a conference volunteer, you can be a part of the team that makes the AOTA Annual Conference such an amazing experience for attendees from across the U.S. and around the world and have a great time while you do it!
  6. Network with students and faculty members from OT programs across the country. While I served as a conference volunteer, I had the opportunity to talk with fellow OT students, meet instructors from numerous OT programs, and exchange ideas and information with a variety of people. Volunteering at conference is a great way to meet people who may have similar interests to yours, so be sure to keep those business cards handy!

…well, what are you waiting for? Visit the AOTA Volunteer Signup page today and find your place! (And click quickly, because spots fill up fast!)

See you in the Windy City!