OTs working in Women's Health...
How did you get started? What sparked this passion?
A lot of people give me that look -- you know the one -- the "Oh.. but wait, you're an OT, and you're practicing in pelvic floor/women's health? I didn't think OTs did that" look. It's a constant conversation about what our role and functions are beyond what most people think of the profession of occupational therapy as. I once had a colleague tell me that he thought "You just help people put on their socks and stuff, right"... (deep cleansing breath) no no, we do a LOT more than that.
These conversations are important opportunities. I have resolved not to take it too personal, people don't know what they don't know. We as professionals should always be willing to take the time to inform others of what we do, what we have to offer, and how the shifting culture of medicine needs OTs like me (and you).
People want to know...
“How did you get started working in Women's Health as an OT?”
For me, honestly, it was kind of by chance. I had an incredible learning opportunity to work with a woman who became a mentor to me. However, she was a physical therapist (a women's certified specialist [WCS]). And thus, my first exposure to women's health topics (via pelvic floor rehabilitation) was from a very biomechanical standpoint. Naturally, that's what PTs do, and do so well. And even as my interest grew, and she continually encouraged me, I felt a bit overwhelmed by how much anatomy and physiology were at the core of pelvic floor interventions. It took me a while to get past this mental block and embrace the path that was unfolding before me. But once I did, I never looked back.
“So, what sparked this passion to not only specialize, but to be such an advocate for other OTs to join you?”
I remember one of the first patients I watched my mentor treating. I recall so vividly the detailed amount of time that this PT spent discussing the intricacies of her day-to-day life, of how her pain and dysfunction were crippling her ability to enjoy the smallest of tasks, ruining her marital relationship, making her feel so alone and misunderstood. Pelvic floor dysfunction is FAR from being strictly biomechanical. It's one of the most personal and intimate aspects of a woman's life. And in the end, this woman wasn't concerned about her levator ani or her obturator internus firing correctly -- she wanted to be able to have an intimate relationship with her husband. She wanted to go out with friends, laugh, have a carefree good time, and not pee her pants. Finding solutions for these problems is all about managing quality of life, and giving people a chance to live their daily lives to the fullest -- and that's OT.
I'm super passionate about everyone having equal opportunity to live their best life. Just because these topics aren't discussed as openly as knee, hip, or shoulder pain and injury -- it doesn't make them any less prevalent. We need MORE THERAPISTS who care about these topics -- PT, OT, or otherwise -- to ensure that the women in our communities are being given best practice care.
Are you also an OT working in pelvic floor, maternal mental health, or any other range of women's health topics that impact the females within our communities? How did YOU get started? What sparked YOUR passion?