It’s time for another one of my special features where I get shine the spotlight on students from other professional faculties! Here, I will introduce to you two Occupational Therapy (OT) students who will share their experiences with the program and why they chose OT!
Amy is currently in second year of the Masters of Occupational Therapy program. She has a Bachelor of Science with a Specialization in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa, and graduated in 2013. Sezgi completed her Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) degree at McMaster University, specializing in Child Health and graduated in 2015. She is currently a first year student in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program.
Why did you decide to choose a career in Occupational Therapy?
Amy: I always knew that I wanted to be in a “helping career” where I get to help people and OT fit perfectly! I chose a career in OT because of how broad it is and how much the person is the core of care. We look at everything from self-care, productivity and leisure and we put all those things together to be able to work on goals that are both meaningful and functional. We can also work with people from all walks of life, with varying ages and disabilities or diagnoses which means our options are unlimited. I also love it because we get to do some of the physical rehab but we also get to do some of the cognitive rehab as well, so you are always adapting, learning and doing new things. No two days are alike!
Sezgi: I chose to pursue occupational therapy because of its diverse and holistic nature. The role of an occupational therapist is very diverse, working across a wide range of ages and abilities, in many different practice settings. Occupational therapists also consider all aspects of a person, and work collaboratively with them to achieve goals that are personally meaningful and purposeful to them.
What made you decide to study at UofT?
Amy: I chose UofT because they offer a large amount of placement opportunities in a very large catchment area that are all accessible by transit. I also liked the program because we have mentors who are experienced clinicians who help guide us through challenges and encourage us throughout school and placement. It is nice knowing that we always have someone to ask questions to or get an opinion or bounce ideas off of.
Sezgi: I want to work in pediatrics, so knowing that I could be placed at some of the best hospitals and clinics for children with disabilities was a huge factor.
What were some challenges you faced while studying to be an Occupational Therapist?
Amy: We learn a lot about so many things so sometimes the amount of time we spent on certain topics is limited because we have so much material to get through. We are also 107 people in my class so this poses a challenge in itself for group work and labs, but it has been an amazing learning opportunity to be able to work with so many great people.
Sezgi: There is a constant stream of assignments and tests, so it can feel as if you are always “on”. It is important to take time for yourself (for self-care and leisure occupations!) to find an appropriate balance.
What advice do you have for students interested in applying to the Faculty of Occupational Therapy at UofT?
Amy: My biggest piece of advice is to follow your heart. This program is tough and it is a lot of work but it is doable (and it is fun!) and when you see the finish line, it makes everything worth it. Take what you learn in class in strides and try to apply it to specific situations. Theory isn’t always fun to learn and to engage in but trust me, it is important for practice. One last thing, don’t sweat over what fieldwork placement you get, they are all great opportunities so try to make the best out of it and try to learn as many OT skills that you can to help develop your critical thinking skills—always ask yourself “why?” (e.g. why am I doing this? Why did she do that? Why did I choose this?…) and answer it! OH…and ALWAYS collaborate with your patients and healthcare team!
Sezgi: Research occupational therapy and really try to understand what they do and why you want to work in the field. First term is very theoretical and you might wish you were learning more hands-on clinical skills, but be patient because you will begin developing your occupational lens and viewing things very differently, which is a very exciting experience. The hard clinical skills will come and placements will help you understand how your classes are applied in the real world.