Being on placement is one of the best parts of studying a postgraduate degree at the University of Plymouth, because it really allows you to apply what you have learned in the class room to a real word environment. After my placement with the learning disability team and the charity for the refugees, I was very eager to find out where my final placement would be. The email came, and my allocation was announced: “general medicine in a teaching hospital”. To say I was over the moon is an understatement, as this had always been on my placement wish list since the beginning. At the time, I actually wondered if my new glasses were playing tricks on me. But nope, it was true, I was going to be wearing my green trousers and spending twelve weeks in a hospital! The role of the Occupational Therapist in this particular ward is to identify the patients’ occupational needs, to ensure they are able to return home safely upon discharge and continue to live independently.
I was fortunate to have a wonderful placement educator, as this was my first placement in a fast-moving hospital setting and she was very sensitive to my needs and concerns. She was patient with me when I made mistakes and encouraged me to use every opportunity as a learning experience. She was also one of my biggest cheerleaders when it came to the progress that I made, no matter how big or small it was. As someone who has learning difficulties and struggles with writing up clinical records, my practice educator never once gave up on me and always challenged me to overcome my fear. She showed me compassion that I didn’t think I deserved, and her positive attitude and kindness is shown in everything that she does with her patients, colleagues and her placement student, me. I can honestly say that she is my role model in finding out what kind of Occupational Therapist I wish to become, which is the kind that inspires others to succeed and make a real difference in the world.
There is no secret that the health care system is under tremendous stress, and this is expected to be the case for years to come. But the NHS is also made up of its people, not just the size of the building or the bed spaces that are available. I have met so many healthcare professionals who dedicate not only their expertise, but also their compassion on a day-to-day basis which really makes a huge difference to the patients’ experience. Looking back, I am so proud and honoured to be involved with this wonderful organisation as part of my training to become a competent Occupational Therapist.
‘You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you'll win, no matter what the outcome.’ – Patch Adams