Meet our Spotlight OT Entrepreneur.. Caroline! She is a pediatric Occupational Therapist with experience in CP, Autism, Down syndrome, developmental delay, breastfeeding difficulties, feeding delays, Prader Willi Syndrome, ADHD, and many other diagnoses. Caroline is currently practicing in Florida. Caroline plays an important role as a Pediatric OT serving the needs of families and children on her caseload. She aligns with this months OT Objective Box theme “Fierce” effortlessly. As a new grad, Caroline decided to start her own business and less than a year later, her business is thriving and she is providing amazing resources to OTs across the US. Caroline founded the Pediatric Pocket Guide which provides resources to OT practitioners and students. Continue reading below to learn about her entrepreneurial journey and advice for new Occupational Therapy Practitioners.
1. What led you to pursue Occupational Therapy as a career?
I feel like my journey to OT starts out very similarly to others (probably more similar to those who chose PT), but it all began with a knee injury in high school… After this injury I had to participate in physical therapy for a few months, and I felt led to pursue this career where I could serve people in a medical capacity (something that I had always been interested in, despite attending art and film school for 6 years!) When I started university, I fully intended on pursuing a physical therapy degree, and then I took Chemistry and almost failed… Around that same time, my cousin gave birth to a little girl with Down syndrome and we talked a lot about the various therapies that baby Penny would have to have during her life. This is when I was introduced to OT – and I fell in LOVE! OT was the perfect combination of creativity, health sciences, and serving people in a genuine and intentional way that I had been craving. From that point on, I have never looked back and fully invested myself into becoming the best occupational therapist that I could – and here I am! A real life OT!
2. What is your favorite thing about being an Occupational Therapist?
My absolute favorite thing about being an occupational therapist is seeing the progress in my kiddos and the sense of peace that I can bring to the parents of the children I see. I love being able to be a resource, advocate, and confidante to my families and aiding them in pursuing the care that their kiddos need and deserve.
3. What settings and populations do you have experience working with?
I am a new grad so I don’t have a TON of experience, but if we are counting my level 2 fieldworks, I have experience in outpatient pediatrics, and acute care in a hospital! My experience with kiddos involves many different diagnoses, including CP, Autism, Down syndrome, developmental delay, breastfeeding difficulties, feeding delays, Prader Willi Syndrome, ADHD, and many other diagnoses. My experience with adults includes multi-trauma, cerebrovascular accidents, general medical issues, falls, ortho, and ICU care.
4. What sparked your idea to start a side hustle?
When I started my blog and Instagram, I never intended to make money off of it or turn it into a “side hustle”. However, while I’ve been in the OT Insta world for the last 4 or so years, I began to recognize the needs for pre-OT students and current OT students as well as new practitioners and realized that I had the skills and desire to help out in any way I could! I got my inspiration for my pocket guide from OT Reference (Jennifer)! Her acute care pocket guide saved me while I was on my acute care rotation, and when I asked her if she was going to make a pediatric pocket guide she explained that she didn’t have any experience in pediatrics, so I asked if she would be okay with me creating one and she said go for it! From there I got to creating and filed for my very own LLC.
5. Explain what your business is for those that don’t know!
My business right now is mainly providing resources (both physical, digital, and through one-on-one assistance) to pre-OT/A students, OT/A students and new practitioners like myself. I sell my “Pediatric Pocket Guide for Occupational Therapists” and the expansion packs through Etsy, and I provide assistance and guidance through raw and honest commentary on my experiences and journey to becoming the best OT I can be, as well as the occasional personal statement/resume editing gig!
6. How long have you been in business?
I technically filed for my LLC in February of this year (2021)! It was a big step for me and made all of the work I’ve done for the past 4 years seem much more real as I had to invest in myself and my work!
7. What is one long term goal you have for your business?
A long term goal of mine would be to provide consistent personal support for a small community of practitioners. Once I feel comfortable with the level of expertise and experience I have, I want to be able to pass on my knowledge and experiences with a new generation of eager practitioners! I love being able to teach and pour into others, so that is something that I would love to be able to do.
8. What is the most challenging thing about running your own business?
The most challenging thing about running my own business is that everything relies on me! I want so badly to be one of those super consistent bloggers/Instagram content creators, but at this time in my life, just managing my Etsy shop and making sure that my customers are satisfied and that the products I provide are the best they can be is my main priority and all that I can truly handle. One day I’ll figure this work-life balance out!
9. What is the most rewarding thing about running your own business?
The most rewarding thing is when I get a good review or a personal message from someone who has bought the guide or read my blog. Knowing that my work has provided support or positivity to just one person makes my heart so happy and makes all of the work so worth it!
10. What does a typical week look like for you?
A typical week for me looks like four ten-hour days in the clinic, and three day weekends! I am so thankful that I work Monday through Thursdays because working with kids can be very draining (but I love it!). I work in a private, small outpatient pediatric clinic and am contracted with my state’s early intervention program, so most of my kiddos are 3 and under, however, I also see some older kiddos and even one adult! I am the only OT in my clinic, so a lot of my time is spent researching, seeking advice, or preparing for my patients. On the weekend I love to explore my town and state, spend time with my friends, attend church events and just really get plugged into my local community!
11. What advice do you have for Occupational Therapy Students or New Grads?
Give yourself grace!! This is something my first CI said to me when I started fieldwork and it has stuck with me since. You will never know everything, and you shouldn’t be expected to. Never be afraid to tell your patient or your kiddo’s parents that you don’t know something – because they will appreciate the honesty! I always let my parents know when I don’t have the answer to something, but I reassure them that I will do everything I can to get to the bottom of the issue or do my research to provide them with the best solution. Be real with your clients and they will learn to trust you!
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