Written by Ben Dwyer, OPG Staff
The role of a Direct Support Professional (DSP) is complex, and demand for passionate DSPs has never been higher. A foundational position within the human services field, it is estimated that over a million new DSP positions will be required by 2022. The daily person-centered plans a DSP must create will present challenges, along with distinct opportunities to grow within the role.
Whether you’re starting straight out of high school, finding a job while studying at college, or any walk of life beyond, entering the sphere of direct support is one of the most rewarding career paths you can take. Each person supported’s unique context will allow you as a professional to adapt to a wide variety of fulfilling circumstances.
"I never had a dream job when I was growing up. Being a DSP made me realize that this would have been it. I have always been someone who cares for others both physically and mentally and I love that being a DSP allows me to do both."
- Abigail Ivaldi, DSP
What it Means to be a DSP
Being a DSP is a versatile position. While an ounce of stress can be expected, the benefits of working with and improving the life of another person is infinitely more distinguished. Making the position yours throughout a flexible schedule demands a creative mind; one that’s wholly involved, kind, and puts the needs of the people you support above all else. When you enter a home you’re not just staff, you’re an advocate for growth.
If you’re at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma, becoming a DSP provides invaluable professional experience as well as career-launching training. Working in both residential and community settings comes with a variety of responsibilities that center around assisting individuals to lead a self-directed life. Being a natural caregiver does not require any formal experience, and as a DSP, you’ll be in one of the few entry-level positions where you’ll have the opportunity to work with individuals directly.
Being at the forefront of intellectual support requires patience, compassion, and the utmost dedication. Here at OPG, we believe the ultimate goal is to develop independent skills through a fading plan – growing individuals’ independence over time. Developing this level of independence not only makes real positive change in the lives of people we support, but delivers a true sense of accomplishment for all.
Expect the Unexpected
While many jobs boast that no two days are the same, a DSP’s day-to-day is legitimately that. Each day comes with its own unique hurdles, and unique accomplishments. Person-centered plans mean adaptation is key. Furthermore, adventuring out into the community can provide a host of additional activities to enjoy and challenges to overcome.
Simply put, being a DSP means you actively seek to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. If you strive to realize a true positive impact on the world, there is no better place to start than becoming a Direct Support Professional.
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