9 Tips For New Therapy Grads

Welcome to the world of Pediatric therapy!

Overview:  This post celebrates the excitement of starting out in your new career as a pediatric therapist (occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, or physical therapist).  It shares 9 tips for new grads and also provides some resources to save for the future!

You would be hard-pressed to find a new graduate, fresh from school who isn’t excited to dive into their field!   As a pediatric therapist, you are likely dreaming of greeting new little faces, building rapport and playing in your sessions, and seeing your client soar!
But, we will wager that mixed in with the excitement are also likely some other feelings like nervousness and overwhelm.  
So below you will find a quick list of 9 tips we have compiled over the years + a quick overview of some resources on this site that you will want to bookmark for once you are settled in your new job!


 1) Write down your goals and don’t forget to DREAM BIG! What would you do if there were no constraints?  We encourage you to brainstorm all of the possibilities, and by writing them down you may find it easier to prioritize or see trends and patterns.  Knowing the big dreams can help you make better career moves or choose courses and trainings that align to drive you closer to that dream.  
I dreamed of beginning my own practice right after graduation. Thus, all of my future career moves were driven by my goal. Take courses relating to your career goals and read as much as you can. Ask questions and follow others with similar goals and dreams.
2) Join your local, state, and national organizations. It may seem expensive now but the rewards will be great. Often, organizations grant members unique access to research and other documents.  It’s also critical to know your state’s laws. 
3) Create business cards and keep them current. Canva is one of our favorite tools for creating marketing materials, including a vast number of business card templates.  Often their printing service is comparable, if not cheaper, to other printing sites.  It’s easy to fall into “trendy” templates, but we encourage you to consider creating something that speaks to you and really represents your personality.  It’s never too soon to market yourself, and trust us, once people find out what you do, the questions and potential referrals are bound to follow!
4) Networking is one of the most critical activities a new therapist can engage in. Since the therapy communities are generally close-knit, knowing who runs local meetings, support groups, and local clinics can benefit you greatly. Be sure to maintain a positive and professional attitude as you enter meetings and group events. We encourage you to think of it as though you’re always in an interview for a new job!  You never know when or where a therapist is seeking a new hire! Keep in touch with your grad school professors and clinical instructors. And don’t forget that mentorship is another form of networking (both for the mentor and the mentee).  We know plenty of therapists who ended up seeking jobs from former supervisors years after grad school.  Be open with communication with other therapists in other practice settings.  This will keep referrals for clients and also potential jobs open!  
For example, once at our parent company, Emerge Pediatric Therapy, we had a therapist who developed a friendly working-relationship with a school based therapists because they shared a mutual client.  A year later the school-based therapist reached out asking if our therapist had the space to take a last minute student whose clinical placement had fallen through.  The therapist, having a positive relationship with the school therapist, agreed.  The student was phenomenal and after she graduated we were thrilled to be able to hire her!  Networking at its finest!
5) Create a stellar resume! Remember to include your volunteer and unique skills. Oftentimes, employers prefer to hire therapists with neat and creative skill sets vs. those with only high GPAs. Being a juggler, for instance, says a great deal about your coordination and ability to entertain your pediatric clients! 
Horizon Healthcare Staffing offers a downloadable resume.
Job Hero also offers great resources for resume creation.
 6) Sign up for magazines and marketing materials from different equipment suppliers. I’m always surprised at the discounts available for exceptional products!  Thumbing through catalogs is not only fun but sparks creativity!
7) Start building a library of personal resources! Start with our award-winning books as they’re great for parents, therapists, teachers, etc.  Follow this blog for more FREE information about blogs, books, and resources.  Check out our course offerings and shop our store, filled with more resources to make therapy planning simpler.  Don’t just stay here though!  It’s important to seek information, book, journals, blogs, etc from a variety of voices in order to keep up-to-date and balanced in your views.  It’s important to take in information with a healthy does of critical thinking rather than blind following.  
8) Use your resources such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.  Again, keep in mind that social media can give you great snap shots and sound bites but it is up to you to dive deeper for a fuller understanding.  
9) Consider malpractice insurance. Many employers cover the general liability of equipment and/or staff but I always recommend purchasing your coverage. Pricing is dependent on full or part-time employment and experience. You worked HARD for your education, licensure, and certification, so protect it.
Some options out there include Healthcare Providers Service Organization or Proliability.
**We receive no compensation from either insurance company.

Now check out some resources below to help you pull it all together.  Sometimes just getting started is overwhelming enough, so bookmark or save these for later when you are ready to take your skills to the next level!

52 Weeks of OT

An entire year of pre-planned activities to make your life easier!

Pediatric OT Primer Course

6 hours of AOTA-approved professional development covering: Assessment, evidence-based strategies, development, reflexes, movement, motor, behavior, and sensory are all covered plus get tons of resources to use throughout your career.

Executive Function Master Course

8.5 hours of AOTA-approved professional development. Learn to build executive function skills to help improve your treatment outcomes using the Train Model

Retained Reflexes Course – Brain & Sensory Foundations

Do you worry that you could be missing something in your approach to therapy? Do you wish you could have a bigger impact in a shorter amount of time? Do you want a step-by-step system that is tested, proven, and supported by evidence?

Cara’s Bestselling Book

Many people struggle with sensory processing difficulties. Regulating emotions, knowing when to eat, drink, go to the toilet, and feeling your breathing and heart rate all depend on our internal awareness.

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