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Interested in Occupational Therapy? Meet Josie Burke


Name: Josie Burke
Age: 22
Hometown: Allen, TX
Current City: Lubbock, TX
Undergraduate University & Major: Texas Tech University; Psychology
Graduate School Attending: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

The Past

1) Take me back a decade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
At that point (12 years old), I’m pretty sure I just wanted to be a popstar! I had big aspirations to be a singer and on Disney channel! Haha!

2) Tell me about your college application process. How did you decide on a school and major?
I knew that I wanted to stay in Texas and go to a public school. I applied to 6 colleges but had my heart set on Texas Tech the entire time. I had looked at schools that also had OT schools and that’s how I came across Tech. I had my first college visit there right before my senior year of high school and really just fell in love! I loved how it felt like family and how nice everyone was. There also seemed to be a lot of opportunities (and at that point I had no clue just how MANY opportunities) for me at the university.

3) What was the hardest part of your undergraduate studies? How did you get through it?
The hardest part for me was learning how to balance my time. Specifically starting my second year. I had a job as a Community Advisor (equivalent to an RA in a dorm), was involved in numerous clubs/activities, and had a full load of classes that I tried my best to maintain A’s in!
I got through it by scheduling everything and making lists for everything. Holding myself accountable this way helped to me to not get overwhelmed and to stay on top of everything. I also really had to work on not procrastinating! That was a big issue for me in high school, but I definitely had to say goodbye to that habit in college!

4) What did you do between undergrad and graduate school?
Initially I had a whole 10 days between undergrad and grad school. So not much there except move to a new house in town! After the first two months though there were some changes and I ended up taking off 10 months. During those 10 months I stayed in Lubbock and worked as a teller in a bank. I also worked on learning more about myself and how to better myself!

The Present

1) How and when did you decide on OT school?
When I was a junior in high school I decided I wanted to go into healthcare. I started looking at different options and OT came up. I had no idea what it was until I happened across it on the internet. It interested me a lot, so the following year (my senior year of high school), I did some shadowing at Baylor Rehab in Frisco, Texas. I shadowed OT, PT, and SLP, just to make sure that OT was for me. I decided after that, OT was the right choice!

I started looking at different options and OT came up. I had no idea what it was until I happened across it on the internet.

2) What did you do to be a good OT school applicant?
From the get-go of college, I focused on maintaining a high GPA. I also started taking my pre-requisites my freshman year (although I know a lot of people don’t have to do that!). I had shadowing experience from different types of settings (pediatrics, inpatient, and outpatient). I also stayed very involved in on-campus organizations and also at my church. I had a lot of community service through those things. I also had recommendation letters in mind throughout college, so I made sure to create good relationships with my professors and also the therapists that I shadowed.

3) What advice would you give to a freshman pre-OT student? How have you managed to balance school/ relationships/self care since starting school?
The best advice I could give is to be serious about school from the very beginning. I was, and it made it much easier to have a strong beginning for my GPA so that I wasn’t having to play catch up later on. I would also recommend finding organizations to be a part of on campus to stay involved, and also start getting shadowing hours/experience. Overall, it did take me some time to learn how to balance everything. I think that is part of the process of becoming more independent and the transition into college. By the time I graduated, I had definitely become much better at the balancing act. My planner is my best friend honestly.

4) Are you interested in any specific specialty?
Right now I am still trying to figure it out, but I think I want to work in an inpatient rehabilitation center with an adult population. I am open to learning about different areas though, I’ve still got a lot of time!

Overall, it did take me some time to learn how to balance everything. I think that is part of the process of becoming more independent and the transition into college.

The Future

1) What does your ideal career look like?
I would love to start out in an inpatient setting, hopefully in the Dallas area. I want to be able to work mostly weekdays and fairly normal hours. In the future I am open to seeing if an independent gym or clinic would be a good fit for me. I will probably go with the flow while I am young and see where that leads!

2) Where do you see yourself in five years?
Probably in Dallas, but honestly who knows! I may or may not be single still, which will probably play a factor on where I am living. Part of the beauty of OT is that is a fast growing career and the need for OTs has grown exponentially. I should be able to find a job wherever I decide to go.  In five years I will have been in the workforce for just 3 years. I am considering pursuing my doctorate after several years of being a clinician, so I could be looking into that at that point!

3) What sacrifices have you made for your career?
Fortunately not many so far. I am young and on track to have my degree and be certified at 24, which is fantastic.

4) Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am also interested in being apart of medical missions in the future. Potentially even live overseas. I want to be able to make an impact globally and bring my services to those with a greater need.

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