Student goes ‘Back to School’ for lesson about Occupational Therapy

News Page 6th December 2018

An Occupational Therapy student has returned to her roots to help demystify the profession by giving workshops at her former High School.

Chloe Holmes, who is in her final year of study for the three year BSc course, visited her alma mater Ormiston Bushfield Academy in her home town of Peterborough to help shine a light on a sometimes misunderstood and misrepresented discipline.

The idea for the workshops came about following a discussion by members of the Occupational Therapy Admissions Tutor Forum of which Debbie Hewson, Senior Lecturer at University of Northampton, is the chair of.

The aim is to encourage Occupational Therapy students across the UK to go back to the classroom and help explain the role of the ‘OT’, what they get out of their studies and raise awareness of the profession, how it helps people and how invaluable that help is.

Chloe said: “Occupational Therapy covers so much more than just helping people get back into work, but few High school students know anything about it. This is what I wanted to tackle with my presentation.

“By ‘occupation’ we mean a daily task or activity – like getting up in the morning or undressing to go to bed and everything else in between that you do to keep busy or for fun – basically, the whole of your day.

Chloe felt that doing this at her former school was especially important: “I’m one of very few students from Ormiston who have gone on to study Occupational Therapy in the past few years and was the only one from my year group. In fact, there was a bit of head-scratching and background research needed by my tutor – they had no idea what Occupational Therapy is!

“This is why I signed up to giving the presentation – to talk about what I do and why it’s a much needed profession.”

Chloe found herself further developing her public speaking skills in the process: “I gave two presentations, the first to 60 year 12 students about University life – so I was a bit nervous! The second was to a smaller group of Health and Social Care students across years 12 and 13 and was specifically about Occupational Therapy.

“Despite my initial nerves, my passion for the profession took over and I was able to talk about what Occupational Therapy is and the up to date ‘OT suite’ and learning equipment we have at Northampton’s new Waterside campus.

“What I wanted to get across was that Occupational Therapists can have a massive, positive impact on people’s lives as they help them engage or re-engage with daily activities and tasks they can’t do because of illness or infirmity.

“I also focused on the breadth of course placements you can go on. I’ve been on three, at St. Andrew’s Mental Health Hospital in Northampton, Leicester Royal Infirmary and my last one coming up will be in a school – I couldn’t ask for more varied experience for such a diverse job!

“Giving the presentations made a brilliant day, I had some really good questions from people and one student interested in Midwifery said she would seriously consider looking at Occupational Therapy courses as well. I’ve been invited back but if I’ve switched one person onto OT, I consider that a big success.”

Find out more about the BSc course in Occupational Therapy at University of Northampton.

For those who are interested in following future conversations about Occupational Therapy going ‘Back to School’ on social media, use the hashtag #OTback2school.

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