I studied a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at USC. Don’t worry, I always get that blank look! Occupational therapists (OTs) promote independence in people who have limitations to their everyday activities which may be due to injury, illness, disability, mental illness or the effects of ageing. We can work in hospitals, clinics, schools, workplaces and enable people to do everything they need to, want to and should be doing in their day. For me, working with children with disabilities in schools and clinics has been my passion. Find out more about Occupational Therapy.
I loved that our practical real-world experiences started in Semester 1 in First Year. It meant that I really got to sink my teeth in and explore what it was like to be an OT working with people, rather than just reading the theory. I worked with people of all ages from young children through to older people in a range of settings. My experiences included hospital rehabilitation, hand therapy, back-to-work, mental health and my favourite setting, paediatrics. Throughout the four years I was given more and more independence during placement and even had my own caseloads of clients in my third and fourth years. My placements let me explore different specialisations of OT and I developed so many great transferable skills.
My biggest insider tip to studying at USC is attending O-Week and meeting up with your Student Mentor. Having an experienced student to show you the ropes (and find the right lecture theatre before you get lost) was really helpful. My student mentor was always really friendly and I knew I could shoot her a quick question about the library or ask for student diary organisation tips. My mentor also completed the same degree as me, then by chance I completed two of the same placements as her and now we both work for the same organisation! She has been a great inspiration and friend during university and now into our careers as real OTs.
Just a month after finishing at USC, I landed a job as an OT with the Department of Education and am based in a regional town in Queensland. I work independently and as part of an allied health and education team to support school students with disabilities. A lot of my work includes supporting teachers and the schools to help these students find and achieve their best potential for learning. Although the regional area means I travel far and wide to see my students, it has been incredibly rewarding so far knowing that I’m helping to make their school lives easier and more enjoyable.
At this stage I’m loving the small-town vibe and working with children has been my passion since I began my degree. I want to spend time in my new position working with children with diverse strengths and abilities and continue developing my skills as an OT. One of my friends posted a great quote the other day that I’ve found very meaningful as I begin my career: “Experience doesn’t come with time; experience comes with experiencing.”
Onwards and upwards!
By Rachael Anderson.
Rachael is graduating with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy on 7 April 2016.