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Choosing The Right Continuing Education Course as an Occupational Therapist

Written by Matthew Alpert, OTR/L, Published on June 24, 2016

Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were a simple guide to follow for new grads on how to choose continuing education courses?

Well, this isn't the end-all-be-all, but it will get your mind turning!

Choosing the right continuing education course as an occupational therapist can be a difficult task, especially since there are so many out there. CE costs money, and you want to use that investment wisely.

Spending your hard earned cash on a pointless CE isn't the best idea, and trust me, I've been there. We all know being a newly graduated occupational therapist money is tight!

Here are four questions to ask yourself when thinking about which continuing education course to take.

1. Does this course add a valuable tool for me as an occupational therapist?

For most new grads all continuing ed classes will be beneficial and helpful.

  • does an individual course make you more valuable to your employer?
  • does a particular course make you more valuable as a therapist in your special treatment?
  • are you considering specializing in a new modality that can increase your take home pay?

2. Is there a certain population that you’re working with that will benefit?

As a new grad, we will choose to work with one population over another. Some of us will be working with the pediatric population others will be working with the geriatric population. Others might be working with both geriatric and pediatric populations in an outpatient upper extremity facility.

The community you want to work with will help you focus on the type of CE course, that will help you to grow as an occupational therapist.

3. What does my senior occupational therapist think?

We need to accept the fact that we will be taking continuing education courses for the rest of our career.

By asking a senior therapist on their opinion might shed some light on areas that might need a little fine tuning or what might be beneficial for your future.

If you have a clinical mentor, use them! They are there to help you make the right decision as a clinician. Check out this video Steve Flathers, OTR/L; CST did on mentors in OT.

4. What topic(s) do you have a specific interest in?

I feel when we graduate from occupational therapy school our knowledge and interests are very diverse and throughout time, we begin to find our passion.

As you learned in school, occupational therapy is an incredibly diverse field and there is the ability to work with the pediatric or geriatric population, the physical or mentally challenged, as an ergonomics consultant and even driving rehabilitation. Our opportunities are limitless, however, think about what would most benefit you at this point in your flourishing career.

Now that you asked yourself these four questions have any ideas?

Once you have a general direction, take a look at AOTA’s CE WebFind Database for a course in your area. Here are some ideas for some continuing education courses:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders: Introduction to Treatment
  • Developing a Fine Motor Program for Preschoolers
  • Learning Disabilities: Occupational Therapy Assessment and Treatment
  • Evidence-Based Physical Agents: Application and Practice
  • Best Clinical Practices for Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Myofascial Release Approach to Pain Management and Function
  • The Occupational Therapist in Long-Term Care
  • Splinting the Hand, Wrist and Elbow

So . . . What continuing ed course are you going to take? Will it be a splinting or sensory integration course?

Topics:Careersceucontinuing edcontinuing eduation

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