Home > Blog > April 2016 > U.S. Veteran William Johnson Finds a New Passion in Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

U.S. Veteran William Johnson Finds a New Passion in Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

Posted: April 11, 2016 by Elizabeth Baker

April is Occupational Therapy Month. To celebrate this important profession, we are telling the stories of current students and graduates throughout the month.

Occupational therapy assistants (OTA) help patients with disabilities or injuries regain a more independent life by providing then with effective treatments. It’s an incredibly challenging and rewarding job that allows them to work directly with patients on their physical, psychological and social needs, helping them rebuild their health, independence and self-esteem.
Occupational therapist assistant student William Johnson works with another student in the lab William Johnson (right) works with fellow occupational therapist assistant student, Victor Rivera, at the Mesa campus' OTA lab.

William Johnson, a current OTA student at Pima Medical’s Mesa campus, first learned about the profession from his wife, a teacher who often works with OTAs in the classroom. William had spent 10 years, from 1985 to 1995 in the U.S. Air Force. After he left the military, he entered the prison corrections profession, but he wasn’t feeling fulfilled from the career. His wife suggested he look into the OTA profession because she knew he had a passion for helping others and had expressed an interest in the medical field.

“I went and toured the campus and spoke to people there. Then I spent a day at an occupational therapy clinic, and I knew an hour into it, that was what I wanted to do,” he said.

William enrolled at Pima Medical’s Mesa campus in June of 2015, and he was immediately immersed in classwork—something he hadn’t experienced in a really long time. He also had to temporarily stop working due to the class load.

“It had been a number of years since I was in school. And I’ve worked since I was 17, so not working in my late 40s was hard for me. We had a lot of classes, but my classmates helped me get through it,” he said.

“So far, my favorite thing about the program is the instructors. They have a lot of passion for what they do. The program has also allowed me to express a lot of creativity.”

After he graduates next year, William would like to work with children in need of occupational therapy. Working with children in need will fulfill the thirst he has to help others.

The OTA program is offered at Pima Medical’s Mesa and Tucson campuses in Arizona, in Denver, Las Vegas, El Paso and Houston, Texas and Renton, Washington. To learn more, visit http://pmi.edu/Programs/Associate/Occupational-Therapy-Assistant.

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