How to get a Home Health Job as an Occupational Therapist
Written by Natasha Freutel, Published on June 21, 2016
Home health occupational therapy can be seen as an ideal job to have as an Occupational Therapist (OT).
According to payscale.com, home health the highest paid sector of occupational therapy!
Being in home health as an OT has two key benefits:
- making your own hours
- choosing to work as much or as little as you want
You often work with patients who are very motivated to get better, and you can build meaningful relationships with patients and their families. Staying motivated is so critical, and there is nothing more motivating than seeing results!
The downside to home health is that you are working alone in the home, no one around to ask for help, which means most companies are wary about hiring new grads.
Many full-time jobs that open up in the home health community require previous experience and expertise, which can be hard to get as a student or new grad. Does this mean it’s impossible to get a job in home health early in your career? No. You just need to be strategic about it.
Here are five tips on landing the job of your dreams as a home health occupational therapist.
Build a professional relationship and job shadow when you can
Reach out to local companies who employ home health OTs. Let them know you are interested in home health and would like to learn more. Offer to volunteer or job shadow a couple of hours a week and build a positive rapport with the staff. This way, when a job comes up you will be the first person that comes to mind.
Beef up your resume with CEUs
Many CEU courses focus on working in the home health setting, or working with elderly patients. Demonstrate that you are serious about working in the field by listing the courses you have taken on your resume or include this information in your cover letter.
Start out as a per diem or occasional worker
Some companies like hiring per diem staff members to work when it is busy or other employees are on vacation. Although you may not get consistent work, it is great to pick up a couple of patients in addition to your full-time job. Picking up extra OT patient care experience will not only provide you with extra income but also help build your experience to transition into full-time work. Many people use home health as a ‘side gig’ and can pay down their student loans faster with the extra money each month.
Use your experience to your advantage
You are smart and capable of being an excellent occupational therapist. You have learned a lot during your academic years and even more during practicum hours. Make a list of what skills you have that would make you suitable for home health.
Companies are looking for OTs, who are organized, flexible, independent workers, and able to problem solve and make quick decisions. Communicate these skills to your potential employer with confidence and back them up with solid work examples.
Don’t give up on home health
There are lots of companies out there, and staffing is a dynamic and fluid process. You may not land your dream job right away but with persistence and dedication, it is always possible.
Do your research, make connections, and build your reputation in the community. Depending on where you live, the therapy community can be small, and word of mouth referrals are always best.
Home health OT may not be for every occupational therapist, but can be the perfect job for those looking for more flexibility in their career, or want to make some extra cash on the side.
“Occupational Therapist (OT) Salary.” (2016). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Occupational_Therapist_(OT)/Hourly_Rate