dave BledsoeDavid Bledsoe did what a lot of children do; follow in the footsteps of their parent. In 1986, he became an accountant, just like his Dad, even though he had no passion for it. Then a year later, a life-changing experience happened.

“My sister was badly burned in a house fire and had a lengthy hospital stay in the UAB burn unit,” said Bledsoe. “It was there I met a certified occupational therapy assistant who told me about a developing area of occupational therapy called industrial rehabilitation.”

The seed was planted and he decided not too long after the incident to quit his accounting job to start a career in occupational therapy. However, he never assumed he wouldn’t be accepted into the program at UAB.

“I didn’t know there was a chance I wouldn’t get in,” said Bledsoe. “I assumed it was like accounting and anyone who entered the program could pursue it.”

Fortunately for him, he was accepted into the OT program and graduated in 1991. He now owns not one but two businesses: Bledsoe Occupational Therapy Inc. and HD Strength and Conditioning, LLC.

“My therapy job has me performing Functional Capacity Evaluations, a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s work-related abilities, as well as a good bit of industrial rehabilitation consulting,” said Bledsoe. “My strength and conditioning and sports development business just opened in May. I train athletes from middle school to the collegiate level.”

Bledsoe may have taken the long route to get where he is today, but he knows it was worth it. His advice to incoming students?

“Be curious,” said Bledsoe. “Don’t only learn what you need for a test or exam. Enjoy your classmates and develop relationships with your teachers. Be well rounded, exercise and have a hobby besides OT school.”

He also encourages soon-to-be graduates to join their state OT organization to help grow the profession. He also suggests graduates specialize like he did with industrial rehabilitation.

“Find some area of OT that you are passionate about and own it,” said Bledsoe.