A year ago, I would never have thought about studying a masters, let alone choosing a subject like occupational therapy, which I had known little about. I had a wonderful full-time job and got to work with some fantastic people, but my inner voice was telling me to seek a new challenge: to make a difference.
A seed had been planted in my mind to start looking at different opportunities. Initially, I was looking at areas that I was most familiar with, which is the marketing sector. With a quick search on the internet I quickly found plenty of options, and there were some interesting opportunities, but they did not provide what I was looking for. When I was involved with a community house project, I got to hear the life stories of lots of different people from all walks of life. I realised that staying in the familiar world of marketing would not fulfil my desire to make a difference to the people around me.
Then I spoke to my friend Ffion, a final year student on the Occupational Therapy programme at the University of Plymouth. She explained to me what occupational therapy means, and how occupational therapists work in the current health and social care climate. I will never forget the smile that appeared on her face when she was telling me how much it means to her when she has made a positive impact on a person’s life. Since that discussion, I have had only one thing on my mind: I want to become an occupational therapist.
Before I wrote my application for the MSc Occupational Therapy programme, I got in contact with a few occupational therapists from a range of different healthcare areas, such as the paediatric and special needs department at school, palliative care settings and spinal injury units. I was fascinated with the work that each of them do because it is a client-centred approach, everything is about putting the clients’ interests first. I love that this profession is about building a strong relationship with the people you are trying to help through meaningful occupations, it can be running, baking, photography, spending time with their friends and family or exploring nature. The list is endless because everyone is different and unique, which is something that I found so fascinating!
The decision to quit my job and to become a full-time student hasn’t been an easy one, because it involves leaving a place that I had loved, and giving up the financial security that came from working. Nonetheless, I made the jump to the unknown. I remember the late Steve Jobs once said ‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” In my case, I trust that my passion to help others, and to make a difference to the lives of others, will help me to overcome the doubts that I have. Even if I only manage to help one person it will be worth it.
I cannot wait to go on placement as part of my course, so that I can experience the work of occupational therapists in practice. I am excited to be a beginner again, and to have the opportunity to learn so much.