Having an occupational therapy mentor for any new grad OT (or really any occupational therapist!) is the single most important item you can have in your career.
These are the reasons you should put in the effort to find a mentor to accelerate your career development which will lead to more confidence and fulfillment in your career and your life.
The rise of home health, contract therapists, and travel positions leave many occupational therapy practitioners without a true community and mentorship.
What Does Mentorship Provide?
I was so lucky to have occupational therapy mentorship and support my first 2 years as an OT from an experienced therapist. But even then I remember reading an article out loud with my co-worker titled “To Burnout and Back. My first 2 years as an OT” and relating so much. Those first 2 years as a new graduate are crucial in our professional development as therapists.
Why is mentorship so important and why am I such an advocate for mentorship? Read on.
8 Reasons Why All Occupational Therapists Should Have a Mentor
Having a mentor means you will have words of encouragement and support when you need it. If you are working without support, being a therapist can be very emotionally draining.
If you find yourself feeling very stressed or burnt out, you can reach out to your mentor for advice and support. Being a therapist is a very rewarding career, but it can also be very stressful. If you are feeling very stressed, it is important to take time to care for yourself.
2 -Trusted Ally
Your mentor has a vested interest in your growth and development. Therefore, you can be sure that he or she will be invested in your success. A good mentor is a person who you can trust and who has your best interests at heart. They will be on your side, which means you can speak to them about an issue more freely than you can to a supervisor or a co-worker.
3 -Help with Professional Goals Setting
Setting goals is one of the best ways to stay focused and motivated, and a mentor can help you set and reach your goals by helping you see the big picture. They can help you set goals that are attainable, let you know when you’re setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, and guide you through the process of setting up a system for accountability.
Many people set goals but don’t have a plan for how they’re going to actually achieve them. A mentor can help you with this by helping you determine the steps you need to take to accomplish your goals. They can help you see the connection between your goals and your day-to-day activities to make sure you stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve.
4 – New Perspective
So often the key to coming out of overwhelm is just a new perspective. A mentor can challenge you to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems. They can be a great source of motivation, inspiring you to stay focused and work hard.
5 – Increased Knowledge
You don’t know what you don't know. Sometimes it is hard to ask the right questions. A good mentor facilitates discussion that leads you in the right direction.
6 – Unbiased Opinions
Someone who doesn’t have any connection to your organization won’t have any bias towards you or against you. They also probably don’t know everything that’s going on within your organization, and they can be a fresh set of eyes. A mentor can be helpful in many ways and can offer advice and consultation on anything they feel they can help with.
7 – Constructive Criticism
In the safe environment of mentorship, constructive criticism is key for growth.
Feedback = Growth.
8 – Personal Growth
Opportunity to practice skills and problem solve.
Types of Occupational Therapy Mentors
When looking for an occupational therapy mentor it is important to consider what type of mentor you are looking for. Only then can you know what questions to ask your pediatric occupational therapy mentor.
What type of mentors are there and which is the best fit for you?
4 Types of Mentors
Do you want someone who gets you through tough moments, helps you think big picture, and helps resolve work-related issues? A coach mentor asks you questions and encourages you to figure out the answers.
Do you want someone who takes the time to understand your knowledge gaps and helps you avoid mistakes? The educator mentor asks lots of questions to understand and help you come up with a plan for growth.
Do you want someone who will push you to expand your knowledge and think outside the box? The Challenger mentor encourages you to think differently.
Do you want someone with relevant experience and credibility to encourage and say “you can do this? The cheerleader mentor helps you see where are you already doing a good job and will be with you to see you grow.
Or a COMBINATION?
Or do you want all 4? So many mentors combine these mentoring techniques. What type of questions you will ask your mentor depends on what type of mentorship you are looking for.
What Questions to Ask your Occupational Therapy Mentor?
Honestly Anything! Think about your caseload and fill in the blanks! Some examples include:
What are your favorite activities to complete with kids who have difficulties with __________?
What types of goals to write for kids with _________?
How do I work on __________?
How do you recommend I start to learn about ____________?
Good Mentors Ask YOU Questions Too!
A good mentor will ask you questions too. I like to ask the pediatric OTs I mentor what they are struggling with that week and our conversations go from there. Some of the topics I cover in mentoring sessions include treatment session structure, treatment techniques, session planning, and more.
What Can an Occupational Therapy Mentor Do for You and Your Career?
What about you? Do any of these reasons resonate with you?
Are you looking for guidance to become more efficient and more confident as a pediatric OT?
One of my clients told me she wanted to stop being the last one out of the clinic in the evenings. Is that you?
Hopefully, you are lucky enough to help have mentorship at your current place of employment.
If you realize that an occupational therapy mentor is something you do not have and need, I’m here to walk this journey with you!
Looking for ways to find a mentor? Read my article here.
Do You Know the Type of Support You Looking for?
What works best for you? So let me know… what's your plan for becoming a more efficient and confident therapist? Let me know in the comments!