Preparing for OT Interviews: Topic influencing #OTalk on the 29th October 2013

As a final year OT student about to embark on my career in the coming months (pending results) nothing scares me more than the thoughts of preparing for my first OT interview. Although I may be equipped with the core knowledge and skills, how will I portray my ambition and passion in an interview? What if I completely blank and remember nothing? I will be going from a professional student to a complete novice OT. What types of questions am I likely to be asked? What placement experience, grades or personal qualities will they look for? What?Who?How? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

From joining in on one of the #OTalk’s during the summer I spoke with the lovely and encouraging Kirsty Stanley @kirstyes to host an #OTalk around the topic of preparing for OT interviews. My thoughts around this topic and hosting both petrified me but I thought seeing as the #OTalk community are made up of a mixture of like minded passionate OT’s, I could use this to my advantage and ask everyone to get involved on the night (29th of October). Preferably offerring their advice and information on their own experience of interviews. I also thought that OT students already involved with twitter & new graduates could also benefit of the discussion and possibly tweet in some of their own questions.

This #OTalk also appeals to OT’s in practice who have been in the same post for a number of years who are considering applying for a new role and want to brush up on their own interview techniques.

I encourage the #OTalk community to get involved & discuss their experiences or thoughts in those 140 characters 🙂

Since deciding to host this discussion another wonderful and inspiring OT Clarissa @clissa89 who started her very first OT post just over a year ago has created a wonderful and helpful blog of her own experience of preparing for interviews. This blog post really gave me an insight into how best to prepare for interviews.  Reading Clarissa’s blog really calmed my nerves as to what is expected of me and how I need to take a deep breath and not be so frightened of the interview process. I cannot recommend this blog post enough and I highly recommend everyone read it. Thank you Clarissa for sharing 🙂

I have also had the privilege of chatting with Rehana @LabmedOT a specialist recruitment agency offering locum recruitment services. Rehana’s input was a great resource as she gave me insight into what exactly recruitment agencies look for in a candidate and how they filter through CV’s. Some of Rehana’s advice are bullet pointed below, however I am keeping some of her advice for the night of #OTalk 😉 so please everyone get involved on the night!!!

  •  Keep your CV simple! Make sure it is easy to read as possible
  •  Include relevant details- bullet points ok don’t use paragraphs (small chunks/points are easy to scan through)
  • Locum work is completely variable 4 weeks option to extend/  3-6months (2/3 new grads joined permanent roles recently as managers liked them 😉
  • A lot more paper work is involved for locum work candidate’s need to be quicker & more efficient! Perhaps mention this somewhere in CV/at the interview
  • Be open to do different things and apply for new roles GO FOR IT!!! 🙂

Please OTalkers 😉 get involved on the night and share your experiences & advice so we can all reflect and learn from each other.



From being more critical in academic essays to practising the philosophy of our OT profession

As I am entering into my final year of my BSC in Occupational Therapy, I have found myself preparing for the year ahead by looking through feedback I have received from academic essays & reflecting on my placement experiences. What has become apparent is that I need to analyse & critique the evidence base further in my essays. Of all 3 placements I have had (4 week MH placement in an assertive outreach team, 8 week paediatric placement with children on the ASD spectrum & an 8 week placement in a primary care team in Ireland) I have achieved with hard work & passion for my profession an A+ grade in all 3. However there is always room for improvement either within ourselves as a professional or within the service we are working in. I know that achieving an A grade on a short 4 week placement will not make me the most competent or an expert in the field of MH, but what it will do is make me appreciate that as an OT I CAN & WILL achieve great things with my clients in the future.

While going through feedback from my academic essays, I was making a list of how I could be more critical in my essays. I have been told before that “a good argument is based on solid evidence”. So the obvious solution for me for future essays is in order to support my views I will need to be able to identify & evaluate the available evidence which means READING, READING & MORE READING THROUGH THE LITERATURE! Something I actually love doing :)

By sheer coincidence that very week I was recommended (by Brock Cook @Keeper85) to read Matthew Molineux’s keynote presentation from the 2010 New Zealand OT Conference in Journal form, Titled “Standing firm on shifting sands”.

The statement from Matthew at the very start of his keynote (I hope I’m ok using first name terms as this is not an essay……yet!) which struck a cord for me was “as occupational therapists we have not been able to respond effectively to the changing world around us”. I thought to myself why is he saying this? Why as an OT himself does he not see us a great human beings who can change the world around us when given the opportunity. But what I didn’t initially think about & I guess with the lack of experience of working as an OT was that he is not saying we are not a great profession but that we have not been given the opportunity to always practice within our OT roots. Matthew goes on to explain that being critical of what we do as OTs that some people think he is trying to destroy the profession when in fact he is as passionate about our profession as Sir Alex Ferguson was about his ( yes I’m a massive Manchester United Fan ;) )

So I read on through this journal & I was really given so much food for thought. Something similar to when the BAOT/COT conference in Glasgow was over in June. I was so inspired I couldn’t wait to input all these new ideas into my future practice. I have included the reference at the end of this blog as I could probably quote the whole paper to reveal my take home points from it. However I urge those taking the time out to read my blog to source this journal. It will allow you to look back at the history of our profession & make you critically think & analyse your own work as an OT.

I ask u the question to ask yourselves like Tracey Fortune asked to OT’s in her research in as far back as the year (2000) “Do I practice according to the philosophy of my profession and can I articulate why I do in accordance with that philosophy?”

Some of you are probably thinking right now, what is the philosophy of our profession. For me its one word: OCCUPATION!

“What we need to do is embrace & encourage the wider recognition of the importance of occupation in the lives of humans” (Molineux, 2011)

As OT’s/OT students we have all been faced with questions from the public & other health professionals like “What is Occupational Therapy?” “What can you do for me?” “What’s your role in this service?”. We all know that there are many definitions of what OT is & that it is a varied & complex profession in which our roles vary within every setting & organisation! We all have had the difficult task of trying to explain what we do for others to easily understand. So what can we do to try make things easier for us when it comes to explaining what we do? Perhaps another difficult question to ponder over.

For me as an upcoming OT soon to graduate I will be holding on to my passion for occupation & its potential to benefit society. I am aware that within certain organisations & services that the role of OT can be restricted due to time constraints, budgets, available assessments & “the actual role of OT” but what should not change or what we should encourage is our role in “the use of occupation to achieve an occupational outcome”. We should not just be aiming for an occupational outcome. So simple but yet seems to be less frequent in todays world. Yes I am still a novice OT with lots to learn & experience but I will fight for the use of occupation as means & ends which will allow me to distinguish myself from other health & social care professions.

“Adopting a role imposed on OTs by others only perpetuates confusion regarding their identity among the wider community & themselves” (Fortune, 2000).

This blog might not interest everyone & I know there will be OT’s who are not of the same opinion but I do ask & encourage you to source & read the 2 references I have put at the end of this blog & answer honestly is what you are doing truly “occupational”?

We need to reclaim our identity as therapists of Occupation :)


Fortune T (2000) Occupational Therapists: is our Therapy truly Occupational or are we merely filling gaps? British Journal of Occupational Therapy 63(5) 225-230

Molineux M (2011) Standing firm on shifting sands. New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(1) 21-28

Social Media: We don’t always get it right!

So I thought it was about time I attempted another blog before I get stuck into my final year studies in a few weeks. My last blog post was about my relationship with Twitter & how I found it to be an ideal forum for professional development. There are definitely no changes there 🙂 in fact I have had many more positive experiences in the last month. I have made many new inspiring connections & have been pointed in the direction of many worthwhile journal articles & research which I know will be imperative to my studies & future career.

However this blog is really about reflection for me!! As I am currently in the middle of researching ideas for my final year research proposal I had a few ideas down on paper relating to “social media as an occupation” & “social media as a CPD forum for students”. As my experience of Twitter was and still is so positive I decided to set up a separate Facebook Account other than my own personal facebook account. I had no intention of not being myself but showing more of my passion & willingness to connect to the OT world that I felt my personal friends & family would not appreciate or relate to on my own newsfeed. I wanted to have an account that I didn’t have to watch what I posted incase my friends would get sick of me preaching or talking about a profession 24/7. So I set up my account as “______OT”

When I set up the OT related facebook account I had been made aware there were certain OT groups I could request to join & so I did. I found them to be a great resource & excellent online support for OTs in various settings who are willing to ask for help or offer their advice to fellow OTs. I also had this thought in my head that when it came to adding friends I would be fine adding OT related individuals & professionals who I had been & who were following me on Twitter!!!!! (boy did I get that wrong).

So I clicked on the “add friend” or send friend request button & I will honestly admit I went overboard. I was so excited & caught up in making new connections on another social media site that my judgement was clouded. I had logged off this OT account for a few hours & when it came to logging back on I had numerous private messages asking me who I was. Eeeeeeek!!! In that split moment I became so out of my depth & overwhelmed that I quickly deactivated my account without responding to any of those messages. I was totally taken back as I was honestly not expecting this.

So I slept on it & woke this morning thinking that if somebody on my personal FB account had requested to be my friend & I did not know them or know anything about them that I would have either clicked “not now” or decline. So why should me randomly selecting people based on their name or connection to the OT world be any different on the OT account I set up? Upon reflection I have learned a lot about how two social media platforms & “their culture & intended friend/follower policy” are completely different even though they both had their similarities of connecting people.

Through twitter I was informed that by deactivating my OT facebook account I had indeed miscommunicated my intent of befriending one particular OT professional & hero might I add. I had sent a request & not explained who I was or what I was about because at the time I thought it was completely normal to do so. The feeling of utter embarrassment spread across my face that I still don’t think the red cheeks have calmed down. I took for granted the ease & “normality” of pressing the follow button on twitter which gives me some sort of human right to gain access to tweets & information about who I connected with. Although FB has OTs who are connected to each other I don’t think it is appropriate for a student or any individual to think they have a right to befriend someone because of their “OT connection” in my case.

The culture of the two social media platforms are very different even if they potentially do the same thing. I think having a made up name is not the best thing to do on facebook & individuals are more likely to accept those with a real name/ a professional & legit organisation who set up a page opposed to twitter where people seem to follow people based on their twitter name.

As this is a personal blog & opinion piece I think from my experience that I will sit back & think of the consequences of starting or setting up something new before I jump right in & let professional passion & excitement get in my way.

I think for now I will keep my original plan in place and have my Facebook as a private non OT forum & my twitter for everything OT related. However the groups on facebook seem an excellent resource like I said so I might just join those 😉

I have learned a valuable lesson in the social media world. I would also love to know if there is any research out there on the culture of social media or anything related to what I have been discussing. Please mail me on or comment on this blog. Thank you 🙂

An Occupational Therapy Student’s Relationship with Twitter: An ideal forum for professional development!

I set up my twitter account about 8/9 months ago just as it was the norm among peers & from watching reality TV series. The idea of following Kim Kardashian on her latest relationship & fashion tips was quite a novelty for the first 2 hours!!! I know for some people that getting a tweet or keeping an eye on one of their celebrity role models can be quite uplifting & a way to keep in touch with the world. However Twitter was just not for me & I had forgotten about having the app on my phone for quite sometime. I thought facebook was my preferred way to keep in contact with the world and Ill stick to that……….

Until one inspiring day while researching articles & content for a uni assignment I came across a health related article online. I noticed at the bottom of the page the twitter icon suggesting that 23 people had shared the link to twitter. By sheer coincidence I had another tab open on my internet which was the COT website & I noticed they had a twitter account.

I pondered over it for a while & decided to log back into my twitter account (after several attempts to remember my password & waiting patiently for a new password to be emailed). I decided to unfollow all 56 celebrities and decided that if I was to keep my twitter open it was strictly for educational purposes & strictly only OT & Health Professional “celebrities/heroes” I would follow. So I started to follow @BAOT/COT & came across the wonderful @Helen_OTUK.

This is where Helen introduced me to the world of :

OTalk Occhat Logo

For the first few weeks of pondering in & out of chats & getting my head around hashtags & keeping up with conversations I eventually got the hang of it. I sat back & watched the hour pass thinking oh god I have an opinion or I can relate to what that person has to say. I then thought “nope who wants the opinion of a student OT, sure what possibly could I have to offer” until one day (only over a month ago) Elaine Hunter was a guest host on the topic of leadership. I bit the bullet & sent a tweet including the hash tag #Otalk & to my astonishment I received 21 retweets & 6 favourites within the hour. It suddenly made me feel yes I do know something & my opinion does matter. I kept tweeting throughout the hour as much as I could with great encouragement from @Helen_OTUK, @ClaireOT, @Kirstyes & @clissa89 even @elaineahpmh (Elaine Hunter) gave me some encouragement & confidence to get involved.

THEN IT HAPPENED: I had gotten the twitter bug and started on my following spree 🙂 I knew I would be attending the COT conference in Glasgow and from following the hashtag #COT2013 I was able to communicate with other OT students & OT professionals attending the conference & managed to get some tips from those who had attended previous conferences. In the space of 3 & half weeks I now have 120 followers which for me is a complete milestone. I have retweeted over 200 links relating to our profession, from interesting articles on topics such as vocational rehab, neuro rehab, paediatrics to information on health legislations & up & coming health & social care policies. All of which I was a complete novice too but now I am learning bits of information & gaining the resources which I would never have been able to do if I had never started my OT related following spree!!!!

The past month has made me think about the overall use of Social Media in general and its potential influence not only on my Continued Professional Development (CPD) but how it could influence my future clients & their carers. I have to whole heartedly agree with Hugh Stephens the advisory board member for the Mayo Clinic Centre for Social Media when he quoted

“If Health Professionals were to use social media to its potential, patient care would be greatly enriched. Holistic Patient care is about treating the patient & their sociological condition, which goes beyond treating their medical diagnosis”.

Therefore I am keeping an open mind & will be constantly researching & keeping up to date with the occupational world through social media networks available to me, not just twitter!! Keep an eye on my future blogs as I have a keen interest in the educational use of social media for my CPD.

For those students or even health care professional reading this blog & have absolutely no idea of twitter and how to use it I have included a link to the brilliant blog on “How to Twitter” by none other than @ClaireOT

Get on board the Twitter Train Tweeps : I know I am 🙂 8-9pm UK time every TUESDAY join in on OTalk/Occhat by following the hashtag #OTalk /Occhat depending on the topic that evening. It will open your eyes to a whole new OCCUPATIONAL WORLD 🙂

Complimentary COT student places: Students & Universities need to get on board!

Every year the College of Occupational Therapists (COT) give 2 complimentary student places to each Higher Education Institute for the Annual OT Conference. As a 2nd year BSc student from Brunel University London I was overjoyed and a little ecstatic when I was offered one of the complimentary places. At the time of being notified (May 22nd) I was at home in Ireland undertaking a clinical placement. I knew that to travel to Glasgow and to organise accommodation with 3 weeks notice would put a severe dent into an already limited bank balance. I guess I am blessed with parents who have seen me through a previous 4 year Bachelor Degree were again willing to support my education & “loan” me the money. Not without good reason mind, and when this 26 year old found herself yet again having to justify to her dad (bank manager) why this trip would benefit her, the reasons were endless. So after presenting my case and convincing my bank manager, I booked my flights & accommodation.
Skipping ahead to the conference to the very first day Tuesday 18th June 2013, I attended the student fringe meeting hosted by the lovely Education Manager Fiona Fraser who I have to congratulate on all her hard work & wish her the best in her new role as lecturer. I was astonished to find out that this year was the lowest acceptance received by COT for student complimentary places for the 3 day conference. I had assumed that each place would have been snapped up!!! However like any element of our OT training we are thought never to assume anything.
Reflecting back on this & on my entire 3 day experience I would sincerely recommend to any student to put themselves forward when an opportunity like this comes around. Not only did I gain a wealth of knowledge in topics & areas such as role emerging practice, innovative practice, research & theory, I made a vast network of other OT students & professionals. I have made contacts which I can keep in touch with online through twitter, OT forums and through email where I can share ideas, discuss challenges & solutions and also inform myself of best practice from those already in practice.
I even met and had the opportunity to listen to Mr Kawa Model himself Professor Michael Iwama who I have gained not only an appreciation for his work & contribution to the profession but for Mars Bars 😉 anybody at the conference will know what I am talking about. I also had the opportunity to attend Sue Parkinson’s keynote address. She is the lead author of the Model of Human Occupation Screening Tool and an inspirational lady with a wealth of experience & knowledge contributing to mental health. I also attended the prestigious Casson Memorial Lecture presented by Elaine Hunter on leadership. From this I have gained a whole new outlook and appreciation on achieving future goals and I actually believe in myself & my potential that bit more from attending.
An exhibition was also held over the 3 days including professional associations & bodies (such as the specialist sections Mental Health, Work, Older Adult, Neurological Practice), information technology services, various types of equipment were all on display and delegates had the opportunity to trial and ask questions. The list of exhibitors is endless. Posters were also on display outlining various settings, technologies, and research undertaken by OT professionals & students.
These are only some of the amazing advantages & opportunities available from the conference, aswell as all the little freebies & stationary I came home with 🙂 Students need to experience it for themselves!!!
I would actively encourage the universities to get on board with advertising the complimentary places and making students aware. More advertising & marketing of the conference earlier in the academic year I feel is needed so students know how the Conference can add to their CPD. Not every student knows about what the conference has to offer. When notification is sent around (from my university experience) about the complimentary places its usually towards the end of the academic year which does not allow enough time for students to cover extra costs of attending. I understand admin staff & lecturers have enough to be doing and are extremely busy. I also know that universities sometimes wait until students are back from placement to notify of free places. However I would encourage even one or two emails at the start of the year reminding or telling students that they can apply. I appreciate that not every student wants to or can rely on their parents to help fund this. So the biggest tip I can give is to save a little bit from now until June 3rd 2014 where the next conference is on in Brighton from June 3rd-5th. I have certainly started saving already so i wont be in the predicament of relying on my parents yet again because of the short notice. Even if students are not lucky enough to receive a complimentary place start saving now. Students should take the opportunity of the discounted price available for students as once we are qualified professionals the cost of attendance doubles if not triples in price!!!