Work after hours

One of my coworkers recently was talking about how her parents were accustomed to a 'teacher's lifestyle of leisure' where they left work at 3, had summers off, and did not spend time outside of school working on lesson plans or grades. I thought this was ironic because my father is a teacher, yet he spends untold hours reworking lesson plans, adding technology into the classroom, and generally trying to improve his teaching and the environment for the students. It is uncommon for him to have a day, let alone a whole summer, where he is not working to take things to a higher level. To me, this highlights a basic difference in mindset about ones work. Does your job merely require effort from 9-5? I know that there have been lots of days where I come home from work exhausted, and all I can bear to do is try to make it to the couch or defrost something for dinner. If it's been a particularly stressful day at work, I might not want to even think about going back. But I try to spend some time every week working on something, be it reading OT Practice, looking up some diagnoses on the internet. This is what I see as the difference between a job and a professional career. If you see your job as 'just a job,' then there's no problem if you aren't spending extra time working to develop yourself or your position. But when you become a member a of profession, I feel that you have a duty to yourself, the other members of the profession, and those consumers that are affected by the profession. This duty compels you work on improving yourself and your station for the benefit for all involved. This is why continuing education is required of OTs, because it is a professional duty to continue improving yourself. If you just 'turn off' everyday after work because OT is 'just a job,' then you are going to become stagnant and your coworkers and clients will suffer. There's always something to work on for self improvement- learn more about a new diagnosis, learn a new treatment for an old diagnosis, learn about a new practice area. If you have an expertise, then share it and help others improve. If you stop learning, then you will stop growing, and I believe your practice and your person will suffer as an end result.


Servant of said...

As an occupational therapist I am fully aware of the potential health hazards of working too hard. I tell my patients to value their work/life balance, as I pay close attention to my own: http://www.metaot.com/blogs/%5Buser%5D-3

Our reflections and professional development activities should take place during work time only, as they are generally for the benefit of our service-users rather than ourselves. When thinking about occupational therapy in my own time, I am actually being a hypocrite by failing to respect my own occupational balance. I think we should lead by example. It is therefore vital that our employers give us sufficient time to reflect on professional issues while we are at work.


Cheryl said...

I understand the idea of the work/personal life balance, and wish that employers offered more time for personal reflection and professional growth. Yet many sites don't even offer reimbursement for CE, and require the employee to take PTO time to be able to go in the first place. I also feel that if I don't put in some time outside of work learning how to improve my practice that I will be a substandard therapist. I'd hate to wake up in 10 years and realize that I was still functioning at a novice level. I'd love to have the time at work to peruse the books I need to, heck, I'd like to have the time to score and write up standardized assessments at work. But until that happens, I will be working on personal time, for the sake of my own practice and for my patients.