By Kathleen McNally Durkin, Chief Executive Officer, The Arc Baltimore
At the beginning of summer, the Greater Baltimore region celebrated thousands of student graduates. We hope many of them will consider one of the most rewarding, professional careers possible – that of a Direct Support Professional (DSP), working for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
We know that Gen Zers are driven by purpose, passion, and impact. They need human interaction, though they enjoy working independently. They are diverse. All that’s a great fit for a career in direct support.
Our DSPs receive high-quality, intensive training that prepares and qualifies them for challenging work. Certifications are required for the professional demands and expectations. Yet we know that some still view DSPs with less understanding of the work as a career. It may be considered as “care-giving” or a “labor of love” rather than meaningful work requiring skills and training.
Granted, some DSP candidates may want the experience for only a few years while they continue their education (often in a related field like occupational therapy or education). But in our experience, we find many individuals who remain in the direct support profession, largely because it is rewarding, varied, ever-challenging and provides an opportunity.
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead lives across Greater Baltimore that require a range of services. Some may require a DSP’s diligence to careful administration of medicine, assistance in doctor’s appointments, and physical support. Others need help to learn job skills and gain employment themselves or look to their DSPs so they can be involved in social activities with their friends.
With more than 19 percent of adults in Maryland with disabilities, organizations like The Arc Baltimore are always looking for new talent with knowledge of the community and an eagerness to work in a rewarding career.
As our region’s graduates explore career opportunities, we hope they will consider learning more about becoming a Direct Support Professional. The hours are flexible, with opportunities to work part-time or full-time, and schedules that range from morning, evening, or weekends.
Beyond those benefits though, being a DSP is one of the most rewarding professions you can ever imagine. For more information about the profession, visit www.thearcbaltimore.org/careers.