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Overcoming Barriers: Making the Leap to Transition to Hand Therapy

Written by Paige Findlay, MS, OTR/L

Being someone who has always loved to travel, I have had diverse international experiences and have learned the ins and outs of adjusting to new environments from the ground up. I have learned to be flexible and adaptable in order to adjust to new places, overcome language barriers, and pursue career development, job opportunities, and internships in both international and stateside opportunities.

In February 2017, I relocated with my military husband to his overseas duty station in South Korea. In order to move overseas, I had to quit my pediatric home health position, leave close friends and family, and adjust to becoming a new military spouse. While this was not an easy decision to make, I was eventually able to continue my career working for the Department of Defense as a pediatric occupational therapist. Unfortunately, this is not typically the case for many military spouses. Every 2-3 years, you have to pick up your life with little say where you go, not knowing how you will adjust, meet new friends, and continue expanding your career.

When I decided to leave my pediatric OT job in January 2020 to begin my transition to hand therapy, I came across the Virtual Hand to Shoulder Institute, LLC. I met with my current mentor, Mirella Deisher, a certified hand therapist since 2003, and decided to enroll in her first Virtual Hand to Shoulder Fellowship cohort. Through Mirella’s hard work and dedication to this virtual fellowship, I now have the confidence I would not have had to pursue a transition to hand therapy as I relocate to Anchorage, Alaska.

In addition to advancing my expertise in examination, evaluation, intervention, and management of patients with upper extremity and hand impairment through weekly lectures and study group review sessions, I have also taken advantage of the additional opportunities that are offered as part of this fellowship such as:

· Resume, interview, and hand therapy job search coaching

· Networking opportunities

· Future opportunity to be involved with tele-rehabilitation.

As I make the move to Anchorage, Alaska in the next couple weeks and begin getting settled in this new location, I have a revamped curriculum vitae, job leads, an incredible mentor, and a clear direction of what to look for in my next occupational therapy position as I get started as a hand therapist. Additionally, with the opportunity to be involved with VHSI tele-rehabilitation as I advance through the fellowship, I am confident I am on the right trajectory for eventually becoming a Certified Hand Therapist.


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