Hi Devlynn! Can you share a little bit on who you are, what you do, and a not-so-known fun fact about yourself?
Hey y’all! As you can see, my name is Devlynn and I’m an occupational therapist. I’m a Rochester, NY native who began a travel therapy journey right out of college. I have (so far) worked in California and New York on travel assignments, and am currently working in a SNF in central NY. A not-so-known fun fact about me is that I LOVE singing (that’s the known part) and actually auditioned for The Voice, though I didn’t make it far enough to land a spot on the show!
What led you to choose occupational therapy as a career?
I would say that occupational therapy chose me in a way. I had no clue what OT was in high school, but knew I loved psychology, anatomy, and special education. I stumbled across OT when looking at opportunities in special education and fell in love. I went into OT school with the intention of working in pediatrics, but changed my trajectory and focused more on adult and elderly populations. I still consider myself a generalist and hope to be involved in the pediatric world in the future!
What’s your elevator pitch for occupational therapy?
I always start with explaining what “occupation” means, so occupations are any activities or tasks that take up your time, and/or are meaningful to you – so occupational therapists engage clients in occupations (or meaningful activities) as therapy to restore skills or adapt activities for those who have endured illness, disability, and/or disease. OT is holistic, meaning we view and value the ENTIRE person and emphasize client-centered care.
What are the treatment settings and populations you enjoy working with?
I truly love working as an OT but my heart is in acute rehab. I prefer adult populations as my skills are stronger in this area, but loved my fieldwork in early intervention and would still love to work in a NICU one day. Through fieldwork or travel OT, I have worked in early intervention, acute rehab, acute care, SNF, subacute rehab, and home health. I enjoy the intensity of inpatient settings and the challenge of new diagnoses.
You are an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. How has your own story inspired you to be passionate about serving this community?
I consider myself lucky in the aspect of my experiences as an openly gay man. I have had incredible support from family, friends, and colleagues. I’ve been fortunate to live in a relatively safe space and found myself feeling a level of responsibility to speak on issues that weren’t being talked about. In OT school, we had one true lecture where roughly 30 minutes were allocated to LGBTQIA+ topics, where I (the token gay student) was left with explaining all things LGBTQIA+ due to a general lack of knowledge on the subject from a professor and my classmates. After that class, I dove into research concerning LGBTQIA+ education in healthcare programs and also LGBTQIA+ experiences in healthcare. I quickly realized there IS a huge void in understanding the unique needs of some LGBT+ individuals, particularly trans individuals, and that something needed to change before suicidal ideation and self-harm statistics continued to rise due to lack of care and knowledge. Trans individuals are up to 50% more likely to experience suicidal ideation or self-harm than other populations in healthcare settings, as a result of how healthcare staff treated them during their stay. I choose to use my voice to empower the voices of others. Pronouns matter, identity matters, and the way we treat other humans, especially as healthcare providers, matters.
What has been the most rewarding and most difficult part of your career?
The most rewarding part of my career thus far as an OT is every instance in which I can be a part of a patient successfully and safely returning to home and to their meaningful occupations. As a new grad, I question what I do so frequently and if I am doing the right thing, so to see the change and to see them reach their goals is so magical. The most difficult part for me has been finding a balance between work, self-care, and wellness. It’s definitely an ongoing process for me but I now have some tools to establish a level of balance that keeps me from burning out.
If you could leave someone in healthcare with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to say no. Remember, every time you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Sarah Putts from OT4Lyfe once told me that if it’s not a HELL YES, then it’s a HELL NO. I felt the need to say yes to everything that was asked of me at my first job and I ended putting myself and my patients in a less-than-desirable position (hint: I ended up with a one-way ticket to burnout city).
What is your favorite daily routine?
Every morning I wake up 15 minutes early and listen to my favorite meditation music while completing a basic yoga flow. I take time to be mindful and start my day with ‘me’ time. On days where I ignore my alarm and miss that extra 15, I take time to be mindful during my morning commute and just check in with my body and my senses.
What makes you your most lit up self?
I would say there are two things that make me my most lit up self. Being on stage and singing in front of a crowd is both terrifying and so energizing for me, I feel like a ball of light when I get a chance to perform. Spending time in nature and being mindful in nature lights me up, whether it’s on a beach smelling the crisp ocean air and hearing the waves melodically crash, or on top of a mountain where silence can be found and the wind gives you a big hug for making it to the top. I would say I’m happiest when I’m with Mother Nature!