Education, Students & New Grads, Occupational Therapy in Practice, OTalk

#OTalk 12th Jan 2015 – Choosing What Employment Schedule Is Best For You

Choosing What Employment Schedule Is Best For You

Date:   12/01/2016  Host: @BillWongOT

Blog Post  –  Transcript

This week @BillWongOT is hosting on working patterns. Below is his reflection and some planned questions.

“When I accepted my first offer as a qualified OT in summer 2013, I was ecstatic because it was a job relatively close to my home and I had success with the setting when I was at placement. However, as time went on, I slowly realized it was not as great as I thought. Part of it was because I experienced increased levels of anxiety and stress while trying to pass my 90 day probation period. But part of it was because I began to realize that a strict and consistent schedule was not a good fit, as I later realized that I could have benefitted in settings where I can take an occasional day off just to refresh myself mentally (aside from satisfying the need of me to have time to honor guest lecture commitments or attend OT workshops). Finally, I also realized that there is a difference in passing placements versus keeping a job. I eventually resigned after 3 months due to my anxiety levels were so high that I couldn’t afford to send a timely notice that I was supposed to provide as a professional courtesy.
So, when I eventually ended up with my current job in summer 2014, I initially chose per diem/locum for a couple reasons. First, I wanted to integrate to this setting slowly, as I had never worked in the setting before during placement. Second, I wanted to minimize my chances of burning out. As part of my personal plan to try to improve my ability to retain this job, I started with 20-25 hours per week for the first 2 months. Then, I increased to about 30 hours a week for the next 2 months. After that, I was able to work 35 to 45 hours a week (depending on need) on most weeks I am able to work for a full week, and only required to take a mental health day off every 1-2 months.
Recently, I decided to do an internal transfer in my company because I wanted to work closer to home while maintaining a similar level of flexibility that has worked well for me so far. After consulting my new building manager (as I was working in one of her buildings that day and we were able to talk about my current employment and personal situations), we decided that part time (but with the ability to do full time hours) is the best option for me moving forward. This change was bittersweet for me. On one hand, I would really miss the awesome teams I have worked with during my time at my current job. On the other hand, I was happy because I do not have to deal with busy Los Angeles traffic as much now and the average distance I have to travel is reduced. Meanwhile, another change that comes with the change is that I will be able to get my insurance and CEU expenses covered along with holiday pay as long as I achieve the requirements.

Aside from this, I also realized upon reflection- I was a better fit with the geriatric setting than pediatrics because I felt my skills actually fit this population better than children.

Looking forward to contribute to a Twitter chat that will help OT students immensely if they are thinking about how to transition from being students to practitioners.”


Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L
Questions to guide the Discussion
1. Are you a student or a practitioner? If you are a practitioner, what is/are your practice setting(s)?

(follow-up question) If you are a practitioner, what is your employment schedule if you are employed? (full time, part time, or locum/per diem)? Are you contracted with a company, or do you have a private practice?
2. If you are a student, what setting(s) are you interested to work in? If you are a practitioner, how many hours do you work on average per week? Do you have a flexible or a set schedule?
3. (For practitioners) What are the pros and cons of your employment schedule that you will like to share with students?
4. (For students) What are some questions you like to ask practitioners that you might not have observed at placements?

2 thoughts on “#OTalk 12th Jan 2015 – Choosing What Employment Schedule Is Best For You”

  1. Apologies, I’m not on twitter! Interesting topic, and very pertinent to my current situation. I qualified a few years ago and there were very few opportunities in my region, so I ended up relocating a few hundred miles to work in a more generic role within a public organisation. I was contracted to work 40hrs pw but – owing to a team member leaving – my boss pressured me into covering the extra hours…

    I ended up working 8am-6pm every day (no days off) until, 5 months in, I was signed off work with depression and anxiety. (I’ve had issues in these areas since my teens but had managed well during my studies.) I was also being bullied by the manager and it all became too much. I ended up relocating again to a lower band job, working 30hours pw, but I couldn’t afford to live on those wages – found a higher band job, working full-time hrs, but had no support and quickly found life too much…ended up having to leave that job.

    I now find myself about to start a new job but am really anxious (and severely depressed again) about coping with the full-time hours (as well as having the worries about managing my job and performing satisfactorily etc). Unfortunately, working fewer hours just isn’t an option for me – I have no debts but a part-time job would not cover the rent, let alone the travel costs (3hrs per day – I’m in an area poorly served by public transport so have to drive) or other daily living costs. I’m in a seemingly no-win situation!

    As a student, I just about managed the living costs. On placement, we had a study day every fortnight – now, as a practitioner, there isn’t that luxury: it’s a really difficult world out there, economically – and you have to be really creative with your time management. If I were using public transport, I’d do my CPD whilst travelling – obviously, as a driver, I can’t do that! So now – as most health practitioners do – I do my CPD in my own time.

    I’m middle-aged and have worked in public and private organisations throughout my life – I think my main point is this: it’s a tough world out there, and many of my employers would have laughed at the idea of an employee having ‘mental health days’ each month (although I thinks it’s a good idea!) – it can be difficult to manage on a part-time salary, and it can be difficult for the rest of the team to have to cover frequently for someone else. There just isn’t that luxury sometimes of having flexible hours being available to you (despite legislation)!

    So, sorry, no answers, and apologies for being so pessimistic (or realistic!) – but I knew, when I was a student, that things were relatively easy: so appreciate the time you have whilst you’re still in training, and use those OT skills you have to come up with creative solutions for managing your time!


    1. Thanks for sharing your story Louisa. Do you have a spare room you can rent? I’ve done that to help support myself to work less hours. Hope this job works out better for you.


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