Having come straight from managing a coffee shop, I felt quite anxious about lacking the clinical knowledge and experience when I started the course. I soon came to realise that whatever path you’ve taken to get to occupational therapy, you will have gained a whole load of really relevant experience to draw on.
The balance of placements with more formal learning means that you develop steadily throughout the course and have the opportunity to apply different areas of knowledge into practice. Placements have been a real learning curve for me, and although they can be quite physically and emotionally draining, they’ve opened up my eyes to areas of practice that I hadn’t expected to enjoy. I’ve had a mix of NHS and non-clinical settings, which has really helped to prepare me for entering practice at a time in which occupational therapy is spreading into other areas.
As a year group, we’ve grown together throughout the course and there is a genuinely supportive atmosphere. There is a huge emphasis on reflection throughout the course, and it’s been an aspect that has really facilitated my own personal growth. Although I dreaded them, the more experiential seminars have been incredibly useful for developing my awareness of how it can feel to do these activities as a client, and I must admit that I did end up enjoying pretending to be a sheep, doing topiary, and playing tug of war!
I’ve received a lot of support from the Disability and Dyslexia Service at Brunel, which has enabled me to continue with the course, and has also helped me to develop ways of managing my disability in practice. Outside of the course, I’ve had a lot of involvement with the Arts Centre, which is a welcome break when you’re working on an assignment. It’s given me the opportunity to continue with flute lessons, take exams and give performances – I wouldn’t have done any of these things if I hadn’t come to Brunel.
The course requires hard work and commitment, but there is a lot of support from both the department and from other services, like ASK, to help you to develop your academic writing. There’s no denying that there haven’t been stressful times, but there have also been a lot of enjoyable times – it’s definitely been worth it.