Lauren: Flying the nest – the end of year three and the beginning of me…

It has been a while since my last blog and much has happened since then. So I thought I’d summarise the last four months, finishing uni, and letting you know my plans for the days ahead.

When I wrote back in February I was immersed in my placement. I’m pleased to say the experience was excellent and I achieved a personal best in my final grade. It was a lot of pressure, but I think I was literally on a high the whole time and I’ve definitely learnt how to use pressure to my advantage.

It helped that my interests are in mental health and of course, if you’re a student thinking of doing an emerging role for placement, then be sure to pick something of interest. But I guess what I found was that I was actually putting into practice things that I had been taught right from year one.

For example “being a reflective practitioner” which for some people can be more difficult than others. Having this skill is so important in an emerging placement or where a service is developing. In order to know what you are doing and to be able to convey this to others, you need to reflect and ask yourself…Why am I here? What am I trying to achieve? What is expected of me? Mainly because there isn’t a traditional framework to guide your learning, so you will need to create your own!

Reflecting, as well as a number of other useful skills (too many to mention them all), really helped me to understand and develop a professional identity and to feel confident questioning the approaches of other team members. All in all, it was fab! 🙂

Time goes so quickly!

After placement finished it was practically straight back into lectures and the start of a new module. It’s amazing how quickly the time goes from New Year to the second semester. Just when you think you’ve got plenty of time to get all the work done, you’re into Easter with an extra couple of assignments to add to the research proposal set prior to Christmas.

Honestly, for me, the time went so quickly. In fact year three as a whole just flew by. I remember a friend saying to me last summer: “only a couple of months to go and we’ll be third years’”….I still pinch myself that the studying is now finished and the next big event to look forward to is graduation.

Ditching the junk food

Once all assignments are handed in and the exam is complete, it can feel quite strange not having much to do. Although, I think it’s important to relax following the pressure at the end of May and take some time out to just be you for a while. Re-engage with leisure activities or make a pledge to get fit again following all that junk food consumed to help get through assignments…I know it wasn’t just me!

Career satisfaction is my first priority

Some of my peers have jobs already and that’s great if the right ones have come along. I am still looking and I’m not stressing myself out about not having one as yet. One thing I am sure of is that I am holding out for the right job, as ultimately these last three years have been about just that. Choosing to leave full time employment at a slightly more mature age and return to full time education was a decision I gave a huge amount of thought to. So career satisfaction at this stage in my life has to come first.

As well as applying for jobs, I have spent time on my CPD (really important for interviews) and the plan next week is to create a personal statement to go with my CV. There are an increasing number of OT jobs in the private sector; not all are NHS based with standardised application forms, so a CV still has its value.

Getting published, perhaps

Another little venture I have recently embarked on came as a result of an article I read in the June edition of OT News. The article was actually about mental health emerging roles and, within it, the authors were asking for contributions to a new book they will be writing in the near future. I wrote in and offered my experience of placement to which they replied enthusiastically. So hopefully I will have an update about this for my next blog.

Not only is this a perfect piece of evidence for CPD, but I may end up having some of my work published in the not-so-distant future. Something I never thought would happen this early in my career.

That’s all for now. I hope to have more exciting updates in my next blog.

Enjoy the sun!


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