WCU Graduate Spotlight: Beth Hobbs, OTR/L

Posted on 05/16/2016

Scrolling through online job searches one day, Beth Hobbs saw something that piqued her interest.

“Wow, there’s a lot of OT jobs,” Hobbs said to herself, “but what is OT?”

She did some research and learned “OT” was short for occupational therapy, which is a healthcare profession that “focuses on helping people participate in the meaningful activities they need and want to do.” 

“And I found there’s a huge demand for it — there’s like a 28 percentage shortage in our field through like 2020,” she said. 

Now Hobbs is part of West Coast University history, having graduated with the university's first MSOT cohort and passed her certification — along with the entire class — on the first try.

“I passed, by just a little, but I passed,” Hobbs said, laughing. “But that’s kind of the story of my life.”

Initially, Hobbs achieved her bachelor’s degree in marketing and worked in the insurance industry for 20 years in Santa Rosa.

“I was actually an appraiser most of my career, where I would go to your house or go to the body shop and write estimates when you wrecked your car,” Hobbs shared. “I was kind of a gear-head growing up.”

While working at the second-largest body shop in the country, writing estimates for a multimillion-dollar company, Hobbs realized she needed a change and began looking for a new career.

“I decided ‘This isn’t me. Here I am again at a job that’s not going to be a good fit for me,’” Hobbs shared.

Hobbs relocated to San Diego and discovered that an old friend worked in OT in the city, so she decided to learn more about it by shadowing them for a few days.

“I think going from one side of the industry, [insurance], looking at medical claims from car accidents, to now helping people through occupational therapy, was really appealing to me,” Hobbs said. “It was a good fit.”

In a leap of faith, Hobbs began her occupational therapy education by taking science pre-requisites at local colleges. After 18 months of taking courses, she decided on a university, only to realize the OT program wasn't right for her.

“I remember thinking, ‘If I fail at this point in my life, I’m in trouble,’” she said, laughing.

One of her professors, Dr. Nicolaas van den Heever, ended up leaving to start the MSOT department at West Coast University, and — in a second leap of faith — Hobbs decided to enroll in the new program at WCU’s Center for Graduate Studies.

Now, she is working currently at a skilled nursing home — which she calls training ground for many OTs — and is well on her way to achieving her dreams as a newly licensed occupational therapist.

“I never felt I made a wrong decision,” Hobbs said. “West Coast was a perfect program. I was so impressed. Everyone was so approachable. I feel like I got a better education here, and a more OT-focused education here.” 

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