Pediatric Jobs ...
Thanks so much to everyone who responded via email and messages. I'm glad to see that what is being reported by the media is also what we are all seeing out in the "real world". Here in CT jobs in SNF are still the most available type of OT jobs out there but there are several companies that are looking for pediatric therapists as well, especially in the southeastern part of CT for the school and birth-to-three populations. A new area that I have seen more postings for is the homecare/hospice field.
I received a couple inquiries asking how hard it was to get into the pediatric field and if I had any suggestions on getting a pediatric job when one had a lack of pediatric experience. I can share first hand that when I was in college and working on my COTA degree I was discourage by my advisor and professor when it came to my desire to be a pediatric COTA. It was their belief that the jobs were far and few between and once a COTA got into that field they rarely left it. It was shared with me on more than one occassion that the pay & the openings were in the SNF field. I had decided to return to college after working 10 years in the coporate world for the sole reason of becoming a COTA and working with children. I knew in my heart the jobs were out there but that it might mean I had to go search for them instead of find them advertised. And that is just what I did. And have been continuously working in pediatrics since I graduated 6 years ago.
So my suggestions are:
1) First and foremost do your best to get an fieldwork placement/internship in pediatrics. I was proactive and sent out inquiries to all pediatric companies that employed OT's & COTA's in CT. I didn't care how far I might have to drive as long as I was able to get my foot in the door and gain some experience. I received several responses and was able to hand over the contacts to my fieldwork placement advisor who was able to secure a spot for me for my last fieldwork/internship placement. So, if you are led to believe there are not placements out there, ask if you might be able to inquire on your own locally. Most advisors would have no problem with this as they have their plate full already with everyone else's fieldwork placements and may not mind the extra help in getting them contacts they can use for your placement and keep to use for future placements.
2) Don't get discouraged if you cannot find any job listings in your local paper. Try looking in the ADVANCE's job listings as well as on-line job search engines. I've found the following companies have had current and up-to-date listings: Simply HIred, OT Jobs.com, Rehab Word (this is a good one to get a list of companies and what types of jobs they hire for - SNF, Homehealth, Pediatric, etc), AOTA's job search section. These are just a few and if anyone has other places they have had success with please let me know and I would be glad to share them.
3) Research and find the companies in your area that employee pediatric OT's. Send them a letter of inquirey asking if they are currently looking for new employees, explain your desire to work in pediatrics and enclose contact information (phone #'s and email address). When I wrote my letters I used my computer to add a clipart of an adult figure holding hands with a group of children. I had several compliments on how that image stuck in the minds of the individuals who read it and that it was an effective way to get noticed and be remembered. Even if you don't hear back from them don't get discouraged. My current position was not one that was posted but one that I had send a letter to when I first started looking. I did not hear from them until nearly a year later. By that time I was already working and happy with where I was. I shared with the caller that I was not looking right now but asked that they keep me in mind for future openings. About a year later I received another call asking if my circumstances had changed and would I be interested in coming in for an interview. I was and I did and I've been with them for over 3 years now and love my job.
4) I have read recently where there is a new trend surfacing in the job hunting field. The job seeker is offering to work for free for an agreed upon amount of time to show the company that they are able to handle the work load and that they are capable of completing the job requirments even if they may lack in direct specific experience (i.e. they've been working at a SNF but want to work in pediatrics). This gives them an opportunity to prove to the company they would be a valued employee and for the company to see if they are a good fit. I have not tried this myself but would not be adverse to trying it if there was somewhere I really wanted to work.
These are just a couple of suggestions and I hope they may help you if you are job hunting. Above all else, don't get discouraged. Keep on trying and finding your own unique way to make yourself noticeable... just remember to keep it professional.
Thanks for stopping by.