Why I’ve chosen to be an Independent OT (and realising the journey will never be easy!)


Realising the journey will never be easy
This pretty much sums up things for me right now!

I’ve written and deleted this a lot over the past few weeks – are people interested? Is it too personal? And now here we are in what can only be described as a chaotic and uncertain time where I’m currently in isolation with my family due to my lovely other half having a cough – and it’s prompted me to sit down and actually do it! Why am I choosing to work in independent practice? Honestly right now it’s possibly the worst  time to try – when generally my work requires a visit to your home, but you’re most likely in the higher risk category for Covid-19 so need to limit who visits you – not a great way to start a business really is it?! And it’s brought back those fears of ‘can I do it?’ and ‘what happens if….?’ But it’s also made me think about my skills as an OT and what I can offer. And thinking outside of the box is something I can be quite good at (if I do say so myself)! So I’m taking this opportunity to finalise all the little bits I’ve been putting off, to stock pile a few news/blog/resource posts, and to think outside the box as to what I can offer moving forward. I’ve no idea what the next few weeks are going to bring in terms of being able to build my private work, but I’m going to try and put those fears aside, step off the wobble board, and focus on positive steps forward. Oh, and I’ll obviously keep washing my hands! So here it is….a bit about why:

I started my journey into independent practice 8 years ago when I first ventured into case management. I was working full time as a housing OT at the time and I’d been in the post for just over 2 years when I decided I wanted to try something new.  I wasn’t really sure what case management was at the time, but I knew it sounded interesting and that the purpose of it seemed to tie in well with OT. I called a few case management companies to have a chat, and one of them was recruiting so I signed up. Due to the location of that company the work I had has been quite ad-hoc, but it’s given me a great insight into case management and I know it’s something I enjoy.

I continued to work full time and never really took the independent work any further. I moved to a new role in social services and went onto have my first son, and my family then became my focus.

Before children I would get an urge every 2-3 years or so to try something new. I’d start looking for my next challenge and would apply for a new job if it looked appealing. All that changed when I had our son. He was priority and the location and convenience of my job meant it was too good to try and change anything. I think that’s the same for most people when they start a family – obviously priorities change and you have to do what works at the time, and for me staying there was 100% the right thing to do.

More recently though, as my son gets older, I’ve started to think about what I can do to give myself a challenge. Work was still good. I have some amazing colleagues and a manager who often lets me get my creative cap on and introduce little changes within the team, but I still felt I was missing something. Jobs in my area don’t seem to come up as often as they used to and I started thinking more and more about private work. Taking that leap though is a scary thought, and financially I just couldn’t work out a way of properly testing the water while still being able to pay the bills! As it happened I went onto have our 2nd son, and I felt that if I didn’t take the opportunity soon I would miss it altogether. I’m still technically on maternity leave, but as the baby gets a little older I’ve used the time when he naps and when my eldest is in school to research the area and try and see if I could make it work.  I’ve attended the Royal College of OT’s Look before you Leap course and gained some valuable information as well as making links with other OT’s who were considering taking the leap.

Taking the step into independent practice has made me re-evaluate lots of things about my career and where I want it to go. I started university over 20 years ago and realistically I’m going to be working for at least another 20 years (it’s probably closer to 30 actually). That’s an incredibly long time to not be feeling fulfilled in what you do!

I continue to work in Social Services and privately as a case manager and now also work as an associate OT for a couple of different companies. Work is building nicely and I’ve decided to push myself further into independent practice and that’s what has led to Enable Me Solutions coming about. I have so many ideas about how I would like to move things forward – probably too many actually as I tend to flit from one idea to another when what I should really do is focus on one or 2 things! More and more OT’s are moving into independent practice because of what it can offer. It’s not just the personal benefits that stand out either. Professionally I can really be the holistic OT that I signed up to be 20 years ago, which so often in other services can be difficult to achieve for lots of different reasons. And because of that I can deliver so much more to the people that ask for my support. Just thinking about the things I could do and the autonomy I could have has made me feel excited (and apprehensive!) and has reignited in me something that I lost a little while ago. And if nothing else, that can only be a good thing can’t it?!

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