Hey readers! This week I bring to you our final OT feature of OT Month! I am sad that OT Month is coming to a close because I had so much fun learning about 5 awesome OT students and sharing some of their passions with all of you. This week, I bring you Jonathan Kabshura, an OT student and one of my classmates! He has a really cool background in exercise and health science (shout out to all of the ExSci majors out there, woot woot!) and is a personal trainer. His goal is to become a Certified Hand Therapist! Let’s learn more about Jonathan!
Hello occupational therapy enthusiasts and any others that may be reading! My name is Jonathan and I have recently completed the first year of my OTD program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Before telling you more about what I am currently up to, let us take a quick trip in the time machine (futuristic time travel whirling sounds). My undergraduate education was in exercise and health sciences which served to help me develop an understanding of how exercise could be utilized to improve health outcomes for numerous populations. My interest in exercise also led me to a career in personal training. By working in this profession for a number of years, I learned how satisfying it could be to form collaborative relationships with clients and support them as they pursue their health-related goals and actualize their fitness potential. As part of my final semester of my undergraduate program, I received an opportunity to intern in inpatient occupational therapy services at MGH primarily within the Sumner M. Redstone Burn Center. This was my first deep dive into the world of OT. Over the course of this internship, I saw firsthand the amount of acumen, attention to detail, problem solving skills, and compassion needed to support patients in their journey to overcome barriers to engagement in meaningful occupations. This amazing experience is what solidified my interest in pursuing an education and career in OT and my desire to enter this profession has only been reinforced since this internship.
Why did you decide to become an OT?
I initially decided to become an OT after a discussion with a former and wonderful personal training client who had previously worked with an OT. She attributed her ability to overcome multiple activity limitations she was experiencing at a young age to the work that she did with this OT. Today, she is entirely independent and lives a fulfilling life. As she told this story, I found myself astonished that an OT could have such a life changing impact on an individual. Thus, I began researching the profession and was immediately hooked. I knew that day going forward that I wanted to begin a career as an OT and make the same meaningful difference in the lives of the individuals that I one day work with.
In combination with this initial spark, there are countless other components of the OT profession that attracted me to this field. Firstly, in my Foundations of OT Practice course, I learned that occupational therapy is known to be one of the least likely professions to be replaced by automated robots or artificial intelligence, so that is certainly a plus in terms of job security! I relish the creativity and collaborative problem solving required to overcome challenges that a patient may be experiencing (it makes me feel like the healthcare version of Sherlock Holmes). I also appreciate that practitioners working in this field take a more holistic approach to healthcare and see an individual as so much more than their condition or the sum of their bodily functions. Finally, occupational therapists have the ability to work in a diverse range of settings with various populations, so you always have the flexibility to shift your area of practice to something more suited towards your interests and skillset during your career. Based on all these factors and many more, the field of occupational therapy is a perfect fit for me!
What are you most passionate about in the world of OT?
As an eventual occupational therapist, I am incredibly eager to pursue a career in hand therapy where I will work with patients to evaluate and treat injuries of the upper extremity. This area of practice is an appropriate fit for me based on my interests in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, motor learning, and evidence-based practice. Though the use of upper extremities is not necessary to live a gratifying life, they can be an excellent tool to interact with our environment and engage in many occupations of interest. Working in this field would allow me to take a hands-on (pun intended) approach and utilize different and innovative interventions to improve upper extremity function of the patients I work with. I would also be able to use my OT background to positively influence health outcomes by addressing patient’s routines, psychosocial barriers, environmental factors, and health literacy. I am particularly excited that I will get the opportunity to develop creative orthotics that are individualized to a patient’s needs (I am taking a splinting class this summer, so I guess I will find out if I am any good at this!). To become a certified hand therapist, I will have to gain three years of clinical experience, 4,000 hours of direct practice in hand therapy, and pass the hand therapy certification exam. Therefore, it will be a long road to achieve my goal, but I am confident that pursuing something that I love will make it such an enjoyable ride!
What is occupational balance to you, and how do you maintain it?
For anyone currently in the field or interested in occupational therapy, you are going to hear this term quite a bit and for good reason. The term has several definitions, but I see it as an appropriate amount of time spent engaging in activities that are both fulfilling and diverse. Personal experience has taught me that occupational balance is what helps me to manage stress, fulfill multiple life roles, and continue expanding my own identity as an occupational being. Graduate school can be quite demanding, so it is very easy to develop tunnel vision and simply focus on the occupations of work and school. Due to this, I have taken concerted efforts to strike a relatively healthy occupational balance since beginning my OTD program. I make sure to perform a structured workout every morning, outside of Sunday. I aim to engage in one leisure activity each night for one hour. These leisure activities are variegated and include biking, running, yoga, swimming, basketball, frisbee, video games, playing chess, reading for pleasure, exploring the Boston area, spending time with friends, and watching anime (you may have your doubts, but I promise you that I am an adult!) or a movie. I also make sure that my Saturday afternoons are dedicated to spending quality time and goofing around with my partner Eneda. To be entirely forthright, there have certainly been weeks that this game plan has fallen apart because of an increased workload and/or exhaustion, but as soon as the opportunity arises, I always jump right back into this more balanced routine. I know how beneficial this has been for me, so I encourage everyone, but especially the pedal to the metal worker bees out there, to try achieving and reaping the benefits associated with occupational balance.
Fun Facts About Jonathan
Since beginning my program, I have continued personal training on a minimal basis. Working in this field is an integral component of my own identity and something that I hope to continue doing in some capacity throughout my life. I have recently began working as a personal trainer at a new facility and am excited about integrating elements of my occupational therapy education into my work with clients. At this new facility, I started teaching a small group class primarily designed to improve participant self-efficacy and knowledge, so they can begin independently implementing resistance training into their exercise routine. This is all in the hopes of making resistance training a lifelong behavior for those who may be facing barriers to regular engagement in this form of exercise. As an added bonus, this class will mostly be composed of my OT classmates, so I am really looking forward to working with them in this context.
Favorite OT social media accounts?
I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Allison’s blog (I promise that she did not pay me to say this!). I became aware of it fairly recently and I fully appreciate the varying experiences and perspectives that are shared along with the description of her adventures in the field of OT and graduate school thus far. I think it is a great read for anyone, but especially for those who are potentially interested in pursuing an education/career in occupational therapy.
One podcast that I listen to regularly that I would recommend is “Spill the OT.” The host is an OT in the Massachusetts area who has OTs, PTs, and SLPs as guests (a majority of them are OTs) who speak about their experiences working in different practice settings. Both the host and these guests provide a very candid take on their profession by discussing their educational background, responsibilities, salary, and how much they enjoy their current and previous practice settings (sometimes it is not always positive which is helpful information as well). Based on the type of content discussed, I believe this podcast may benefit those trying to decide what practice setting they would eventually like to work in.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found some of this helpful, cheers!