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The transition from Student to Qualified Occupational Therapist

In anticipation of all the wonderful, Allied Health Professional Students graduating this Summer 2021, we took the opportunity to speak to Aanika, one of our fabulous Occupational Therapists, about her experience since graduating. We heard how she found the transition from Student to Qualified Occupational Therapist in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic and the advice she has for students graduating this year.


Q: Can you tell us a bit about your experience of working as an Occupational Therapist throughout the Pandemic


It’s been quite difficult as we didn’t learn about Covid-19 at University and the pandemic only started towards the end of my final year, which made going into my first job quite overwhelming as I didn’t know what to expect being in a Covid-19 ward. However, it has been a good learning experience as I have seen how much the pandemic has affected people’s mental and physical well-being, thus impacting their ability to carry out occupations, as well as their level of independence.


Q: In what ways do you think the pandemic has highlighted the importance of Occupational Therapy?


Since Occupational Therapy is about promoting independence and meaningful activity/occupation, I feel it has really highlighted how important it is to have these things in our lives, and the effects of losing them. For example, we hear how the lockdowns have impacted people’s mental health, whether that’s due to not seeing loved ones or being stuck at home all day with no one to talk to or anything to do. I believe it has really highlighted a need for occupation for our mental well-being.

Also, from personal experience working in an acute hospital, it is evident that covid-19 has impacted many individuals level of function/independence with activities such as personal care, toileting tasks and being able to transfer in/out of bed. These things hold meaning to majority of my patients and enabling their independence has been very rewarding.


Q: Do you think recently qualified Students will have a different experience compared to you? If so, why?


I think in terms of employment, it will be different as now we are much more aware of how covid-19 can affect patients health and well-being and build their knowledge around that, whereas when I graduated there was not as much research around it.


Q: Is there anything you struggled with in regard to employment when qualified?


It took me a few months to find work through an agency, mainly because a lot of jobs were asking for car drivers (which I am not). Plus, I have been on the band 5 waiting list for a while and not many posts have come from that as things have been much slower because of the pandemic. However, I’m now in a temporary post at Antrim Hospital through Keenan Recruitment and I’m glad to have the opportunity to do agency work and gain valuable experience.


Q: What advice would you have for students currently studying Occupational Therapy in regard to employment upon qualifying?


I would say don’t panic too much. I felt so lost coming out of University as I wasn’t sure where to start. Make sure you get as much advice as possible from your lecturers as this helped me a lot and guided me into agency work, which I feel was the best option for me at this time.


Katherine’s thoughts on the Q & A

COVID19 had such a massive impact on Students and their placements as well as their learning experience. For students graduating this Summer, who have perhaps done placements throughout the Pandemic and have more knowledge and experience to deal with current situations, Agency provides them with the ability to develop upon these skills further or try different areas to build upon their experience. Keenan is a candidate focused Agency which means we will take our lead from you in deciding your next step in your Healthcare Career.    

I’d like to add a massive thank you to Aanika for all of her hard work throughout the past year and for sharing her experience as a Band 5 Occupational Therapist working within the Northern Trust. All of staff have been incredible throughout the challenges COVID19 has brought and continue to show their determination and resilience, sharing their knowledge and best practice to empower future Allied Health Professionals.

For a confidential chat about our Allied Health Professional opportunities we have available please feel free to get in touch with Katherine on 02890447144 or email alliedhealth@keenanrecruitment.co.uk