What would be an ideal career for someone who wants to work with disabled children but has a low patience?
I would love to one day be able to help and communicate with disabled kids, such as a pediatric occupational therapist or something similar, but I tend to loose patience without meaning to. I am afraid that a career path such as pediatric OT is maybe a little too social for someone like me, and in that case, is there any similar careers that would allow me to still help and be part of their lives, but perhaps in a more bystander-like position?
Pediatric dental professionals spend their time providing dental care to children without special needs as well as children with special needs as they age from small children into young adults. They are trained in minimizing patient fears, making a trip to the dentist a "fun" event, and promoting education about oral health in an individualized manner that recognizes and addresses the different physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of each and every patient.
The second dental specialty I would like to introduce you to is special care dentistry. Special care dentistry is a branch of dentistry that focuses on providing dental care to patients with intellectual and/or cognitive disabilities as well as those with physical, emotional, or medical challenges that affect their daily lives and oral health. Special care dental professionals work with patients of all ages but also receive advanced training in treating the specific needs of elderly patients both with and without special needs. Oral health care is provided with a very individualized approach by addressing the daily challenges each patient may face when it comes to maintaining oral health.
I would recommend that you explore the many different careers found within a dental office and consider the amount of interaction that they have with patients as they come and go for appointments. While any dental professional may take on the "social" healthcare duties similar to those of an occupational therapist (and that was something you mentioned as not-so-desirable), much of that socialization is focused on promoting patient education and addressing individual oral health care concerns while relieving symptoms and preventing disease for each patient that walks into the office. It is a very rewarding field to work in, and the level of patient interaction varies from role to role as well as from one dental office to the next. There are also administrative roles that are found in these types of dental offices such as office management/billing, scheduling/patient records, and other business-related positions as well. These careers would allow you to help patients in a different way than the chairside dental staff....different, yet just as powerful. Distracting nervous patients in the waiting room by making a silly joke from behind the front desk and then returning to your administrative duties could provide you with just the right amount of social interaction while maintaining a more behind-the-scenes role of dentistry. On the opposite end, if you desire a greater level of patient interaction, taking on a more clinical-based position like that of a dental hygienist, dental assistant, or dentist would allow you to focus your attention on social aspect of patient care and the science behind it all. An added bonus of dentistry is appreciated by those those who enjoy working with their hands. As someone who has worked both behind a computer screen and at the dental chair, I can tell you that working with my hands provides me with a much more rewarding, fast-paced, and physical work day than any other job I've had. Regardless of specific positions, the whole world of dentistry is a field that you will both feel and see yourself grow in. Let me know if you have any questions. :)
There are roles you can be in that can help them, but not directly interact. You could look into advocacy, which is a job that helps to ensure the children are getting the services that they are entitled to. An other role is a member of a Child Study Team, which evaluates children to determin what assistance and modifications they need.
Ann Gianoglio Burk, MBA
I hope this helps. Good luck!