OT’s Talk - Finding the life lessons in your work.
Hi there, it’s that time again… Time to introduce another guest blogger, Megan Bezuidenhout. She is wise beyond her years, with a great passion for both people and the profession. I hope you’ll learn as much from her as I have. Take a read:
“You are going to be the only OT at our clinic”, was probably one of the scariest sentences that I heard, starting as a community service Occupational Therapist (OT).
Honestly, when I first heard those words, I was filled with fear. Would I be able to run my own OT services? Would I be able to treat all my patients, some with conditions I hadn’t even heard of? I even heard it said that working as an OT would be completely different from studying OT. Would I be able to adjust? I honestly wasn’t sure that I could.
Now, however, as the year draws to a close, I’ve found myself reflecting on how much my community service year has taught me, not only about working as an OT, but also about life in general. So, here are the top five things that working as an Occupational
Therapist has taught me:
1. People matter
This year I have met some incredible families. They take time off work to bring their loved one to therapy, they wake up early to help the patient through their home programme, and they provide endless emotional support when therapy gets tough. I’ve learnt to use a patient’s friends and family in therapy; a good social support system was often the difference between a patient reaching their goals and a patient never progressing. This also taught me to look at my own support systems, both those that support me and those who I support.
2. Critical thinking
We are all human, and we all make mistakes. It’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to disagree. I’ve learnt that by digging deeper, you are not only growing your own skills but helping others grow too.
3. Life-long learning
Learning in a “non-school” environment was amazing. People attended courses just because they could – hungry to learn new skills that could benefit both them and their patients. Not having a looming deadline or test-stress really changed and challenged the way I went about learning. I learnt that you should never say no to an opportunity to develop new skills.
I recently heard a quote that encouraged one to “think inside the box”, to allow your constraints to drive you. That is my community service year in a sentence. Working in small spaces with not a lot of resources, you quickly learn to get creative, and find a new way to accomplish your goals.
This was the first time that studying 24/7 wasn’t a priority, and yet it was all too easy to let work and unproductive leisure (Netflix!) take over. It wasn’t long before the dreaded burn out hit. I had to learn to create balance by exploring new hobbies, prioritising friends and family, and leaving work at work.
This list could honestly go on and on. It has been an incredible year, and as I start the next adventure, I will be sure to lean on and continue to develop these skills and I hope that where ever you are and whatever you do, you’d be encouraged to do the same.