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Alum finds fulfilling career in occupational therapy

Galina Bailey had a job that allowed for travel and a secure future, but sitting behind a desk for the rest of her life as an operations manager was not her idea of a rewarding career.

“I wasn’t fulfilled,” says the 2014 Tidewater Community College graduate. “I knew I wasn’t doing the type of work that I wanted to do.”

Galina Bailey
Occupational therapy gives Galina Bailey fulfillment
she didn’t find in her previous career.

Today she uses the Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant that she earned at TCC to treat patients who range from children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and sensory processing disorders to adults recovering from a brain injury, stroke or spinal cord injury.

As an occupational therapy assistant, she provides skilled treatment to help patients restore and maintain the skills necessary to maximize their independence.

“I absolutely love what I do,” said Bailey, whose pink T-shirt displays her affinity for the profession.

Bailey researched several health professions before deciding on occupational therapy, after completing more than 100 observation hours on her own (admittance to the program requires a minimum of 30). She enjoyed all aspects of the program at TCC, receiving support from professors Bill Marcil and Amanda Leo, as well as from her classmates.

“Our class was comprised of individuals of various ages, backgrounds and levels of experience, so we were able to learn from one another,” she said. “We bonded as a group, and we graduated together.”

Clinical fieldwork is integral to the TCC program, and Bailey was afforded opportunities to work in behavioral health, acute care, skilled nursing facilities and public school systems.

“One of the wonderful things about occupational therapy is you can work in so many different settings,” she said.

Bailey recommends potential students attend the monthly open house held at the Regional Health Professions Center on TCC’s Virginia Beach Campus. “They answered questions I didn’t even know I had,” she said. “I left there thinking, ‘I can do this.’”

In addition to working for Southeastern Therapy for Kids, Bailey also works for two skilled nursing facilities, enjoying the versatility the profession offers and the flexibility that allows her to spend time with her husband and two children.

“What we do as occupational therapy assistants is client-centered; it’s all about the patient,” Bailey said. “Everyone wants to live life to the fullest. That’s what occupational therapy is all about – helping people do the things that are important to them.”

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