Sam Gourley graduated from USC in 2013 with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy. He now runs his own private practice on the Sunshine Coast specialising in providing occupation therapy to children. Sam wanted to find a career that would combine his interest in holistic health care and his passion for helping others. He chose to specialise in paediatrics after discovering how much he enjoyed working with children he met on practical placements as part of his studies.
Q&A with Sam
Did you find it hard to choose which degree to do?
“Yes, really hard. I wanted a profession that involved helping people…a sort of coming to the rescue. I had experienced that in the missionary work and had enjoyed it. I wanted a career that would be flexible and that would bring home a decent pay packet. With Occupational Therapy, it had the sort of things I was looking for. I learnt how holistic it was and I talked to my Dad who is a Psychologist who had been working with multi-disciplinary teams and he was able to tell me what Occupational Therapists do. I’ve never looked back and I am really glad I’ve done the degree. I can see other places I could take it other than clinical work in the future. An OT degree is a good foundation to work in the health sector. I’m considering doing an MBA in the next couple of years to develop my skills as a health service manager and business leader.”
What was the biggest change coming to uni?
“It was doing lots of work and not getting paid. When I finished school I spent two years volunteering and I worked at a retail job and was used to getting paid. Coming to uni, it was doing a lot of work and not getting paid right away.”
During your time at USC, was it supportive?
“It was very supportive. Even the Program Coordinator knew who you were. The lecturers knew your name and you felt they had your best interest at heart. My wife had been at a big city university and had described what it felt like to sit in a lecture hall with hundreds of people that you didn’t know. At USC, the teaching staff knew my life situation from year to year. You got the feeling they were watching you grow. They were really looking after you.”
Did the course work help prepare you to do the work when you got your first job using your degree?
“Yes, it was really good because by the end of the seven week placement in the final year, you were filling a full-time Occupational Therapist role. At the end of the placement you were treated as a professional and it was good for identity formation.”
Best moment at USC?
“My best moment would be finishing…graduating from university with my degree. All that hard work paying off. You had that qualification, that piece of paper. You were an OT…and that was definitely the best part.”