These are some of the many questions Occupational Therapists hear daily when we try to explain our vocations. Occupational Therapy (OT) takes a holistic and person-centred approach to therapy in healthcare to encourage and promote the independence of those whose activities of daily living, i.e. washing and dressing activities, have been compromised or limited by physical or mental health.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a healthcare worker, helping people, and giving back to the community. The challenges of getting to where I am now started with my GCSEs. Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve the best GCSE grades and this meant that I couldn’t do the A-Levels I needed to go to university and study mental health nursing. I had to think again. So, I changed my A-Levels and route of getting into university to study a healthcare degree and it wasn’t until my tutor at school told me about OT that I researched it and thought it sounded like it would be the perfect course for me.
I had to go to college for 2 additional years and then apply for university again. This time, I got into university with the grades I got from a BTEC in science! This wasn’t the end of the struggles I faced. University was difficult for me, being two years older than most that go straight from school, I felt I’d be too old to make friends. I also had challenges in my first year with adjusting to higher education and the way of doing assignments and even got screened for dyslexia.
Throughout the year of the pandemic, I came across another bump in the road. I’d started my final placement in the beginning of March 2020 with the aim of finishing my degree in May 2020, however I had to suspend my placement due to COVID-19 and restart my placement somewhere different in July 2020.
Fast forward to September 2020, I finally finished university with a 2:2 in Occupational Therapy BSc (Hons).
Keeping my faith during this time has been one thing that really got me through these difficulties. I feel that without my faith and determination, I wouldn’t have completed university and, as cliché as it sounds, I wouldn’t be where I am now or have met the amazing people who have tiresomely worked all the way through the pandemic.
Starting my career in January has been the most refreshing start to the year I could have asked for. From having COVID-19 in November to being furloughed all through the lockdowns, applying to jobs and being rejected at interview, to being on universal credit and not seeing a way that I was ever ready to start a job as a professional, I feel the most comfortable and happiest I’ve been for a while with job satisfaction and a clear pathway as to where I’m going!
OT has opened doors for me and my future and has shown me exactly what I want to achieve from life and the career I want to be in for the rest of my life.
If there’s anything this pandemic has taught me, it’s to keep strong and chase your dreams! Going through the path from school into my lifetime career has been a difficult and challenging journey however, with faith, I’ve been able to overcome any obstacles that have been thrown my way.