Recently I got to represent Occupational Therapy at a postgraduate event, and it was great being able to help future OT students by offering some advice here and there. A lot of them commented that it was really helpful having current students there, as well as the University’s admission tutors, and it made me cast my mind back to the stressful months & weeks before my interview when I’d have sat through the every episode of Big Bang Theory in return for a student godmother to ask three questions to.
Below are some of the most common questions together with the advice I gave:
How do I get OT shadowing experience?
You can try contacting local hospitals’ OT departments and asking them. However in my experience, the success rate for people obtaining shadowing experience this way is low. A better way is to use your existing contacts, and think outside the box. By this I mean think about who you already know, and think about all the places where OTs work (clue: it’s not just hospitals).
Some ideas are:
Traditional settings– hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, nurseries, supported living facilities, day centres for people with learning disabilities, community health teams, hand clinics.
Non-traditional settings– mental health/psychiatric facilities, equine therapy/animal assisted therapies, assistive technology centres, research labs, prosthetic/orthotic clinics, chronic pain management clinics, palliative care/hospices, oncology depts, military hospitals/rehab centres, private schools, independent practitioners, prisons/criminal justice system, vocational rehabilitation, community-based or mental health outreach teams, A&E.
OTs are generally acknowledged to be the nicest people you’ll ever meet. The ones that I contacted ranged from willing-to-help to bent-over-backwards-to-offer-clinical-contact-and-photocopied-relevant-book-pages-for-me. Even if you don’t have a family member who’s an OT, ask around if anyone knows of one and you will be surprised. Then be shameless in approaching them directly for help! The worst they can do is politely decline, but I guarantee they won’t. Read more
Who is going to lean on you?
Who are you going to lean on?
What does this mean for you as a healthcare professional?
As an occupational therapist, team members from the different allied health professionals and other healthcare professionals will be leaning on me to provide my part of the care for patients. The patients themselves will also rely on me to provide the treatment they expect and are entitled to.
I will be leaning back on my healthcare colleagues as I will need to liaise with them to organise services for my patients that have been agreed as part of their therapy plan. I would also imagine I will be relying on any administratiive staff to help me with admin and communication between departments and patients. I will be leaning on my clinical supervisor and line manager, and whilst I am a student, my personal tutor.
As a healthcare professional this means it will be give and take, I will need to communicate well and build rapport, and working as a team/with other healthcare professionals and staff members will be crucial.