COTA/L to OT/R – Decisions, Decisions
On a personal note, I have been working at a COTA/L since 2003 when I graduated from Bay Path College's
weekend COTA program. It was a wonderful program that allowed me to work full time and attend college on the weekends. It was hard work but with the support of my family I was able to do it. Did I mention that I was doing it at the age of 41 after already having worked in the travel field for the past 20 years? It took me a couple years to get up the courage to go back to school and I have never regretted that choice and love working as a pediatric COTA but I am coming to another fork in the road and have to decide which direction I want to go in.
As much as I love being a pediatric COTA in the birth-to-three field I can't help but feel that I might be even more valuable to the company I work for and to the therapists I work with if I was to become a OT/R. As it stands right now my case load and the territory I cover is quite large as I'm the only one who services the occupational therapy needs in our office. I'm able to do this because COTAs are not allowed to do evaluations so I have the room in my schedule to see more children. However, this leaves the lion's load of the evaluations that are referred to us with motor concerns to the PT in our office to cover. If I was to get my Master's degree I would be able to take some of that load from her.
So I am at that fork in the road... trying to decide what would be best for me, my family, and my job. I have been accepted into the COTA to OT Master's degree program at New England Institute of Technology. It's a weekend program just like my COTA program of study was at Bay Path. What's nice about this program is that it is every other weekend at the college and then on-line study in-between. Quite doable for a full time working mom like myself.
But I am now 51 and I have to figure in the cost of the 2.5 years of study and weigh it with what the pay increase may be. As I am not independently wealthy or have a wealthy family member who may want to sponsor me I will need to take out loans for what financial aid won't cover. Do I want to have to go back to paying back a student loan again? On the plus side there would be more opportunities for me to work as a pediatric OT/R than there are as a pediatric COTA/L. On the negative side it would mean going back to studying and research papers and classwork assignments and all the fun things that come from being a student. On the plus side, once both my kids graduate from high school we could look into working overseas where there is more opportunities for a OT/R than there is for a COTA/L.
Decisions, Decisions. . .
Has anyone else made the move from COTA/L to OT/R? If you have, are you happy you did it? If you haven't, do you wish you could do it?