A Quick Start Guide To Becoming A Pelvic Health OT
When OTs first discover Pelvic Health it's common for their excitement to quickly be replaced with overwhelm.
It can be easy to become overwhelmed with all the different information: course, jobs, training, mentorship, subspecialties, etc.
What happens when people become overwhelmed?
They typically don't take action as they are unsure where to focus their energy. So many choices lead to not making any choices.
But you don't have to feel overwhelmed or not knowing where to start.
It can be so easy to get bogged own in nitty gritty details that we lose perspective and can's see the whole picture.
Remember - learning to become a Pelvic Health OT is like learning any other skill you've already done.
And learning any skill is simply a combination of:
- Head knowledge (e.g. learning both informally and formally)
This is it - everything you've learned in the past can be summed up this way. When you think about learning Pelvic Health as an OT in this fashion, it is much easier to see how to pull together a plan.
Step 1: Devour Free Information
Unlike when I first got started, there is a wealth of free information on the internet for you to start consuming right away. This is your "informal" education that starts to give you an idea of the scope of pelvic health. It can help develop your interest, discover common conditions/populations and treatment approaches.
A great place to start is my free Facebook group call "OTs For Pelvic Health" with over 5k members. I go live every week teaching a pelvic health topic.
There's over 100+ hrs of free replays available. You can join this group today and get a mini-crash course in pelvic health for free.
There's other free resources available to you as well including:
- Sign up to receive my free interview series where I interviewed 6 amazing people working Pelvic Health to learn their insider tips
- Listen to my podcast "OTs in Pelvic Health." New episodes are released each week!
- WomenHealth4OT Facebook Group
- Other podcasts such as Pelvic PT Rising, Pelvic Health Podcast, and OTs After Dark
Step 2: Start With Just 2 Courses
You want to supplement your "informal" education by going to high quality continuing education courses to develop your core foundational expertise.
But, I say start with onl 2 courses because that's good enough to get a solid introductory knowledge. From these 2 courses you can then decide what additional sub-specialty courses you want to take. But, you can take these subspecialty courses over time.
A friendly warning about courses: it is easy to fall into the trap of "just one more course." I totally understand this and I've found myself in the same situation! But, what I've found with mentoring other OTs is that there is a dark side to "just one more course" because it's often masking an imposter syndrome and the person never feels ready.
So, my advice is to not rush into a ton of courses right away. After you get your foundational knowledge, then let your work experience and client experience dictate where you spend your continuing education time.
When I first started years ago, most of the course were only taught by PTs. Now, we have some amazing courses taught by OTs and from an OT perspective.
(Related: Check out OT Pioneers: Introduction to Pelvic Floor Therapy for Occupational Therapists)
Step 3: Get Some Experience
If you have been devouring free stuff and taken 2 introductory courses, then you are completely primed to confidently walk into a clinic and get volunteer or shadow opportunities.
In fact, in many cases, just having 2 intro courses under your belt would be enough to actually get a full-time job!
(Related: Read 4 Tips to Help OTs Land A Job In Pelvic Health Without Years of Experience and How To Build An Irresistable OT Showcase Resume To Land Your First Pelvic Health Job)
Receiving volunteer/shadow time is incredibly important to take the training you've taken and apply it into the real world.
Each client is unique and different and there is no one size fits all approach. Seeing as many clients as possible in such a setting will enable you to see how to adapt your training to the unique client situation in front of you.
In fact, this is my favorite part! It's the most creative part of being an OT in Pelvic Health where we get to meet the client where they are in their journey. It allows you to be resourceful when treating your client.
This volunteer and shadow experience will prime you to confidently apply for your full time job.
Step 4: Get A Mentor
Mentoring is such an important component to your development that it's a shame so many people don't consider doing it.
A mentor enables you to decompress from a client session and go over your clinical reasoning.
It enables you, in a safe space, to understand what you could do better or alternative ways to think about a client situation.
For this reason, I recommend your mentor be someone that isn't a co-worker. You want someone outside your clinic that you don't mind being candid with, that you don't mind asking "those stupid" questions to and that you aren't worried will participate in your performance review.
This mentor could be someone in your area that you meet with physically or someone you meet with virtually.
On my Facebook page "OTs for Pelvic Health" I maintain a large list of OTs that offer mentoring support. Check it out to find if there's one in your area or one that you can connect with virtually.
Take These Action Steps Today
The role of an OT in Pelvic Health is complicated. But that doesn't mean becoming one has to be overly complicated. Don't let any overwhelm prevent you from taking action.
In just 4 simple steps you can become a confident OT in Pelvic Health:
- Consume free stuff (if you haven't yet, join "OTs For Pelvic Health")
- Take 2 initial courses
- Job shadow
- Get a mentor