So currently I am doing my degree in Occupational therapy which means when I qualify I will (hopefully) work as an Occupational therapist. Not many people really seem to know what we do so here I plan to gradually develop a bit of an explanation to do my bit to promote OT. Watch this space!
I would like to answer a question which is going to follow me for the rest of my life... 'So what is OT?'
The obvious question when you say your at uni is 'what are you studying?'. People can understanding when you say history, or art or even nursing. My answer is occupational therapy. To which I normally get a 'ooh' or a blank kind of smile and then, from those brave enough... so whats that then?
The problem is it's pretty hard to explain. I'm not sure even most of my friends and family really know... I'm not entirely sure I do! We were talking about it in a lecture the other day and I quite liked our lecturers quote: 'It's not our fault it's so complicated!'. And thats the thing, its pretty difficult to sum up an entire career into a nice short sentence. Would a nurse be able to do it? Or a physio? The difference is people don't have a picture in their head of OT. So... For anyone passing my blog, please read on and learn a bit cause one day you might need an OT and it would be nice to know what they do. And infact when I say to someone, 'what can I do for you?', for them to make the most of it, surely they need to know what is possible!
So what do we do??
My normal definition is 'we work with people to live independantly with illness'
An improvement I heard in discussion the other day is that 'we help people live how they want to live'. I like this, indepednance isnt the only thing we work for, it's not always possible and it's not always wanted. But we help people do what they value and what is meaningful to them and we call this occupation, be it getting dressed in the morning, having a job or going swimming. We see occupation as vital to good health. We can work in physical or mental health, with any age group. We can work in hospitals, the community, prisons, charities, schools ... you'll be surprised where we pop up! We look holistically at a person, considering their environment, their illness and its effects, their values and their goals to decide what to work on and we use a range of techniques to acheive them. eg. teaching techniques and strategies, providing equipment, groups, education, exercises, splinting... the list could go on!
I'm struggling here to define what we do because it's so broad, but I've tried and hopefully you have slightly more of an idea. Please note I am only a second year student, not qualified, please don't reference this! It's just an attempt at getting a few more people out there to understand what OT's do, because I think it's really important and the more widely OT is known, the more effective can be!
For further infomation http://www.cot.co.uk/ is pretty good :)
I hope to continue to update, any comments are always welcome!