What it’s like to be an occupational therapist in the hospital and the home

Last updated: 
An occupational therapist helps a patient sort medication as part of a therapy session
Occupational therapists like Sandi Cordova help patients relearn how to perform activities of daily living.

When it comes to occupational therapy, no two treatment plans are alike. Each treatment is specifically customized to meet the needs and goals of each individual patient. A patient might want to learn how to cook their favorite recipe again, drive their car or to be able to dance with their significant other. However, the type of patient and setting could also play a factor into what their treatment plan entails. A patient being treated in a hospital may have different goals than a patient who is receiving home health treatment. Meet two occupational therapists who share what ignites their passion for occupational therapy and the differences and similarities between the two care settings.

Sandi Cordova, OT at Encompass Rehabilitation Hospital of Albuquerque, NM

Why did you decide to become an OT in the inpatient rehabilitation hospital setting?

“I wanted to become an OT so that I could assist people in regaining their meaning again and be able to get them back to the occupation of living. I appreciate the ability to work with people in their first stages of recovery and be part of the quick progress that often comes in inpatient rehabilitation. Being able to create individualized plans and take people from basic activities of dressing and eating to beyond the hospital walls and out into their communities is such an amazing opportunity.”

What does your typical day look like? 

“My typical day consists of working with patients on their self-care activities so that they can return home as independent as possible. That can often involve basic self-care such as dressing and bathing, education about their injury or illness, adaptive equipment and strategies to help them relearn ways to function, family training to assist families in caring for their loved ones, and working together with my interdisciplinary team to provide the individualized treatment.”

How has Encompass Health supported your goals as an OT?

“We have the ability to work in our interdisciplinary teams and support each other with information and a team approach. I have a lot of colleagues available that I can ask questions of or mentor newer therapists as they begin their own journey in OT. Encompass Health also offers me the ability to continue my learning and stay up to date through continuing education opportunities. Encompass health encourages me to take advantage of new learning opportunities and to be a part of process improvement teams and committees to help me reach my individual goals and to find the meaning and purpose for me in my own job.”

What advice would you give to someone starting their career as an OT?

“I encourage the new OT graduates to begin by being exposed to a wide variety of diagnoses and settings in order to find what it is that interests them and brings them purpose. Encompass Health is a great place to begin your OT career and to do so in a very supportive environment where you have a team of other therapists and support staff that can guide you and help you as you begin your journey.”

Lisa Parent, OT at Encompass Health – Home Health in West Springfield, MA

Why did you decide to become an OT in the home health setting?

I first became interested in therapy when I tore my ACL in high school playing soccer. When I was going through PT and OT myself, it sparked my interest and that is when I decided to look into the field further. I decided on OT because it seemed like more of a creative avenue because of the fact that sometimes you have to find creative solutions to helping patients meet their goals. I was attracted to home health because I like the fact that it is so hands on. You are literally in the patient’s home so you are able to be there to help them achieve essential daily tasks like doing laundry or opening cans of food.”

What does your typical day look like? 

On average I see 6-7 patients a day. The first thing I do is review my case load, any notes from nurses or physical therapists and confirm the times that I will see each patient. Before going to see each patient I will review their treatment plan and also check in with nurses to see if there is anything specific I need to address with the patient that day. When treating patients, sometimes family members or caregivers will be there so I will make sure to answer any questions they have.”

How has Encompass Health supported your goals as an OT?

“Encompass Health definitely promotes training and continuing education. I love that training is still viewed as overall productivity and that there is a large network of clinicians across the country that we can tap into for any questions or advice.”

What advice would you give to someone starting their career as an OT?

“Slow down and really listen to your client. Take time to establish a relationship and level of trust with your client. It is so important to form that connection with the patient so that you truly understand their goals, which will allow you to have better outcomes and feel like you are making an impact.”

Want to learn more about occupational therapy at Encompass Health and how you can become part of the team? Join our talent network or sign up for job alerts. If you are ready to make the next move in your career, you can search for openings here.

The content of this site is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical conditions or treatments.