How can a little sign that says ‘Occupational Therapy’ instil so much anxiety into someone who has spent the bulk of the last 3-4 years studying the ins and outs, theories and frameworks, activities and interventions of just what occupational therapy is?
Well, that little sign can make your stomach flutter when it’s your first day on the job as a qualified occupational therapist.
It’s been several years now since my first day on the job as an occupational therapist but I can remember it clearly. I was extremely excited and proud to begin the career I had studied so hard for but I knew the day ahead was going to be nerve wracking, exciting and most likely overwhelming. But armed with new black pens, a notebook and a packed lunch; I knew I had done all I could to prepare.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” said Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers. And that quote is a great way to start considering what you’ll need to do to make sure you turn up to your first day of work with confidence.
So, ‘where do I start?’ you may be asking. Your professional association has invested time and resources to help make that transition from student to practitioner as smooth and hassle free as possible. There are dedicated pages on the COT website just for new graduates which cover the essential resources you’ll need such as the College’s Professional Standards and Code of Ethics documents and a great overall resource in the online web mag ‘The New Graduate Toolkit’. Further links from the new grad webpages provide information on mentoring and preceptorship, finding a new graduate networking group near you, and guidance on working in a non-traditional OT role.
What do you think you’ll need to know on that first day of work?
How about after a month on the job?
Or, maybe 6-12 months later?
The great thing is that you can dip in and out of the COT website and find the information you need, when you need it. It is essentially your one stop shop. You may find you want information on a specific area of practice-we’ve got that! The latest SPEaR (Supporting Practice-Evidence and Resources) sheets cover a range of topics. Or how about joining your regional committee and meeting fellow OTs to network and learn valuable professional skills too .
With so much to read, reflect on and research further, your new OT career is the start of continued learning, exploring and understanding of just what OT truly is! Where are you going to start first?
I’d like to hear your stories as a newly qualified occupational therapist.
How did you prepare?
Were there unexpected things that happened that no one could prepare you for?
What was in your packed lunch on that first day of work?
Share your experiences in the comments below or email me at Beriah.firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great time as you begin your OT career!