Interview with Catherine Douglas, Occupational Therapist
Description of your work setting/environment (desk / in a field / driving / meetings etc)
There are many different fields of OT and I am currently working in a private paediatric practice. My day is spent performing all sorts of activities with children, such as swinging, playing with balls, art work etc. When I am not with the children I am sitting at my desk completing notes and planning sessions. I am also frequently required to write in depth reports for new clients.
Summary of what most days look like for you
I generally have most mornings free and start work between 11:30 and 13:00 as the majority of the children come after school. My sessions are either 30min or 45min in duration. I finish work around 17:00-17:30. Fridays are reserved for admin, meetings and courses.
The pros and cons of your job
The pros of this job are working with children and seeing their progress; working within a multidisciplinary team; flexible working hours and school holidays. OT can be physically and emotionally draining at times, which can be a con.
Does your job involve designing something, assembling something or growing something?
As an OT you are constantly required to design new activities to meet your aims.
What are the pros or cons of this?
Children are never the same and you have to think on your feet all the time. This is both a pro and a con as it allows you to be creative but is more difficult when you are tired or stressed.
What skills/competencies do you need in order to do your job?
You need to be creative, patient, flexible, hard working; enthusiastic and high levels of energy can be greatly beneficial.
Please describe the steps you had to take to secure your job?
OT is quite a difficult degree to be accepted into as the classes are very small compared to BA or BCom degrees. You need to pass matric with exemption and generally with distinction, including two of the following subjects within your choice of six matric subjects: mathematics, science or biology.
The OT degree is a four year honours degree and is only available at universities with a Health Sciences department. After you have graduated, you are required to work in a Government institution for a year before being able to work independently.