What I learnt from my first placement!

10 weeks done and dusted, how did that go so quickly? Now I am back in lectures, it is time to reflect upon the last few months.

I have learnt more than was imaginable from my first clinical placement as a student of Occupational Therapy; and the first was how I underestimated how tired I would be! There were various placement settings which include acute settings, community, mental health and everything in between (which reflects on how many settings occupational therapists work in). Mine was a ‘split placement’ which meant I had double the experience! I had two lovely educators within two settings; a community hospital and a community rehabilitation team. I worked with so many patients many who had Dementia, had a stroke, had fallen, and who needed support with fatigue management. The OT role was to ensure they can access their chosen occupations, and ensure a safe discharge from hospital with the support they require.


The first day..

There were some common concerns amongst the cohort initially, understandably, but I think it’s safe to say those feelings soon disappeared. I turned up on my first day with my freshly pressed uniform and my pack packed full of stationery – it felt like the first day of school all over again! My educator came to meet me and took me to meet the team who were all lovely; which made everything seem so less scary. They understand that we are there to learn, and do not expect us to know everything from the offset, but want us to succeed by working hard. Every staff member went beyond for me to have opportunities to learn and have the best experience possible, and I cannot believe how much I learnt.

A few tips..

Placement experiences are different for everyone, but I found these things very helpful.

  • Prepare by speaking to your educator and ask some things to read up on; I found it useful to have a little knowledge on certain medical diagnosis’ that were new to me.
  • Take plenty of notes – it’s impossible to remember everything!
  • Reflect with a diary as often as possible, I managed to do a little overall reflection at the end of the day, but also in depth after events that I found went well, or not so well.
  • Ask questions, and take every opportunity to learn – chances are you’ll be offered to go with other team members (including nurses, support workers, speech and language therapists and social workers).
  • Ensure that you practice any assessments with the team on placement – it makes it less scary when going back to university.
  • Get plenty of sleep, but make time to meet friends and recharge for the week!

My favourite memories..

I was asked to do a talk to a group of ‘befrienders’ on falls within my first week, to do in Week 10 of placement. At the time, I was petrified, but the experience was brilliant - everybody was so kind and enjoyed the talk – despite my heart being in my stomach!

We were lucky enough to attend a training day for Dementia friendly technology, which was on the University campus. It was great to see that Plymouth is a Dementia friendly city and is actively working to support people with Dementia.


I took part helping out in groups that people attended in the community, which was ran by occupational therapists and physiotherapists. These groups were for people with COPD and who were at risk of falls, it was great to see these people week after week and improve over time!

One of our assessments for this placement was a PowerPoint, I actually enjoyed putting this together as I could talk about everything I’d learnt.

Lastly, I felt very lucky to work with such lovely people and see such great passion and teamwork. The teams worked so well together to ensure that patients received the best care possible, and it definitely reinforced this is what I want to do.