Elizabeth Paradise

Occupational Therapy Assistant

I began working in retail as soon as I graduated from high school. But when I was around 30 years old, I wanted a change and began exploring my options. I thought health care might be a good fit, so I started working at a home for adults with disabilities. Since a license wasn’t required for the position, I jumped right in and started learning. One of my responsibilities was to drive patients to their physical and occupational therapy appointments. I saw firsthand what a positive impact those sessions had and I got inspired.

I decided I wanted to continue exploring the world of health care. The next step I took was earning my certified nursing assistant license, which allowed me to get a job in a post-surgical setting in a hospital. At this point, going back to school wasn’t something I was interested in, but I liked my CNA job and was happy with my position.

After a few years of working at the hospital, I had my turn as a patient when I needed to have semi-urgent surgery on my cervical spine. After the operation, I had physical therapy at the hospital, but wasn’t given any therapy after I went home. I really struggled with pain and mobility for months, and that’s when I decided I wanted to work in rehabilitation and prevent others from suffering like I did.

I knew Stormont Vail Health had one of the highest-quality rehab clinics in Kansas. This was especially exciting because of Stormont’s tuition reimbursement program! I was able to work as a CNA while I also went to school and earned my occupational therapy assistant associate degree, and Stormont covered some of my tuition costs.

Today, I’m an OTA in the acute care unit. Occupational therapy helps people get back to doing daily routines and activities they love after a surgery or accident has decreased their mobility. I guide patients to either transition to the next level of care or become safe enough to go home.

I love working with a diverse population and seeing people with a wide range of diagnoses. At the end of the day, I know I’ve made a difference in the lives of others and that means the world to me.

I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time working in jobs I didn’t enjoy before getting into health care, so I’d encourage everyone to make the most of their time and get started down whatever path you really want to pursue as soon as you can!