Supporting the occupational therapists of the future!

In a few days, the facility that I work out will go on holiday break similar to the school holidays. This means that in this next week, I will be wrapping up my final evaluations for all of my placement students.

This semester in particular, I have had the opportunity to be a preceptor for occupational therapy student, occupational therapy assistant students, a recreational therapy student, and personal support worker students. Each of their final evaluation and their learning objectives look a little bit different, depending on the curriculum, but I always have the same experience while filling out their final evaluations. In reflecting on their experiences on my facility, and the learning that they have gone through, I always find myself learning more about myself as a preceptor, and recognizing what is missing in our education system.

Final evaluation’s are often very vague in the skills you’re reflecting on and often focus a lot on the placement experience as a student in school versus taking what you’ve learned into the future. I like to focus a lot of my final evaluation on celebrating all of the amazing things they’ve done during their placement because they receive all of my feedback throughout their experience. I also love to give practical tips for when they head out into the workforce.

This is where the idea for my blog post came from. Today I was celebrating one of my student’s final evaluation, and I gave her a couple of my go to tips that I was given when I graduated that helped a lot. She was very grateful and excited as to some of the tips that I shared, because they was not something she had thought of or been told before. I will share a couple of my favourite tips that helped me when I was entering the work force, and what I share with my students, but I am really curious to know as preceptors what you share with your students!

So, in attempt to put together a document of tips for occupational therapy students, I was hoping we could fill the comments with things that you either learned as a student or found out on your own that helped you become an occupational therapist that you are today. This could be where you get your information from links to different workshop to check out. Do you have favourite books that people should check out? Or different networking strategies?

I believe we are in an era where healthcare professions are dwindling in their numbers, yet a lot of information is gatekept. I shared with my student today that when I worked in my community public healthcare job, my supervisor told me I shouldn’t be asking for help so much because I should be “finding the information on my own”. I personally think a great way to burn yourself out is to feel like you’re constantly re-inventing the wheel, when we’ve all started from the same place and probably have the information to share somewhere!

Here are a couple of the tips I figured out on my own or was given when I graduated which really helped me grow as a practitioner:

  • Self care is ESSENTIAL as a therapist ! Before you seek out any further education, take some time to explore what your self care routine is, what you would do on an emotionally draining day, and how you can set appropriate work life balance boundaries. You are important to your clients but you can’t pour from an empty cup!
  • Create a go to group of occupational therapists that you can bounce ideas off of, and share experiences with to help you grow in your practice.
  • Take time to reach out to a different occupational therapist that you can find on LinkedIn or on your local college website where OTs have have their license registered (COTO for Ontario) Do this not with the intent to get a job, but to ask if you can interview them about their role to see what is out there, what education they took after university and if they have any tips
  • Becoming a licensed therapist is very expensive, so try to use free education sources when you first graduate. Podcasts and OT blogs can be great to have more of a personal connection, books from the library, and connecting with a student who has access to article can be a great way for literature. And seeking out free workshops that are not only for occupational therapy, but for other relating interprofessional subjects, can I add to your knowledge.
  • Don’t feel like you always need to reinvent the wheel. I had a supervisor who told me to stop asking for help because I should be figuring out everything on my own, and I literally quit the job because I was so frustrated that I was so alone. There are so many things that are out there so many resources and knowledgable people that there is always someone that can give your help!
  • Finally, don’t feel like you need to fall into your ideal job right away! All of the girls I have kept in contact with, and myself included, we have all bounced from job to job after graduating before finding what we enjoy. My placement coordinator at my university told me she has worked in SO MANY different jobs with different populations and goals, and that’s the beauty of OT!

I’m sure I’m missing tons of tips, but please feel free to add anything you can think of in the comments ! The more the better 🙂 let’s brainstorm together to help our future OTs bloom to the strong team members they can be!

Published by maiiflowerr

Pronouns She/Her/they/them. I'm a millennial just trying to make a difference in the world, and create space for people to accept themselves and live their best lives. My fiancee, Sydney, and I are mothers to our two goofy cats, and the queens of creative adventures. I am an Occupational therapist, a dancer and a yoga instructor with a passion for supporting people and creating community.

2 thoughts on “Supporting the occupational therapists of the future!

  1. Also meant to circle back to this! Loved all your tips and find they apply to rec therapy as well – one area I feel like you kind of allude to is exploring the ableism within your healthcare profession (and peers).

    2 examples – I think I’ve actually learned more from  OTs, SLPs, LCSWs since graduating than rec therapists, but mainly (or maybe) because there’s so much more free & open/virtual content from these other fields, which has been more accessible to me.

    Another ex where my disabled identity & professional structures creare barriers is what you call precepting, and in the states (or at least in RT) is known more as internship supervising. One can only supervise or take on students if they work full-time – so as a chronically ill & neuroqueer RT who can sustainably work part-time, students can shadow me, but not get that immersive longer term time, which is frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The second example you made is very frustrating for sure – are you not allowed to share a student ? I had my first placement with two supervisors because they said they didn’t have time for a student …. So it’s upsetting that these rules are in place for full time staff but not for part time ! I think that’s a huge barrier that institutions need to fix because I’m sure a lot of amazing supervisors are being missed with that rule !

      Liked by 1 person

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