The therapy assistant practitioner role involves assessing and helping to progress patient mobility and formulating safe discharge plans, under the guidance of an occupational therapist or physiotherapist. Both Niamh and James decided they wanted to become occupational therapists and felt an apprenticeship was a great opportunity to study alongside learning on the job.
Niamh said: “I’ve always known that I wanted to be in a profession that helped people and occupational therapy is very much based on that.
"Being an occupational therapist involves improving people’s quality of life by promoting their independence and helping them to achieve what is important to them.
"I knew that going into occupational therapy would lead me into a rewarding profession that I feel passionate about.”
James said: “Occupational therapy often requires a creative solution to answer problems that are found during assessment.
"This thinking outside of the box and the creative problem solving always keeps things interesting.”
The three and half year course involved a mixture of classroom based work, placements inside and outside of the Trust and exams.
Niamh said: “For anyone thinking about an apprenticeship, definitely take the opportunity and do it! The time goes so fast, you learn so much and it’s a great way to develop in something you’re passionate about.”
James said: “I really enjoyed the challenge, with a young family it was difficult at times to manage the work/life/study balance and Covid certainly complicated things with distance learning, which was a real struggle.
Niamh added: “Everyone in the Therapies team has been so supportive and understanding of the additional responsibilities that come with the apprenticeship. If I’ve needed advice or support for any university modules there have been so many members of the team willing to take time during work hours to go through things with me.
“I have now qualified with a BSc in Occupational Therapy and started my new role as a rotational Occupational Therapist in July. My first rotation is in elderly care and I will continue to rotate around until I find a specialism I want to remain in.”
James added: “Being able to get paid, work and study is a brilliant opportunity to progress in your career. If you’re unable to commit to a full-time degree this is a great avenue to gain the knowledge and skills you require. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
“My colleagues were very supportive and gave me great advice. I had regular supervisions with my workplace mentor and made sure I had plenty of time to study.
“I have now qualified with a BSc in Occupational Therapy and started my rotational Occupational Therapist role in the therapies medical team in July. This covers respiratory, cardiology and gastro which I am very excited about.
“I am very keen to take part in research and service development opportunities with an occupational therapy focus. I am hoping to have some work published within five years and may look at completing my masters.”
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