Learning the differences and similarities of Greece’s and the Netherland’s OT practice and education system.


Hello everyone, this is Emmanouela!

This month I did a collab-blog with Tahnee Augustin and Vera Engelbert, who are both from the Netherlands and currently studying OT at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences!

They contacted me suggesting that we did a collaboration blog about both countries’ OT practice and education system. I really want to clarify that in this blog we DO NOT want to compare our universities/colleges rather than just getting to know how each system works and what could we possibly learn when looking at OT from a different perspective! We would, also, love to hear from you wether you have something to comment or to ask about our blog or even if you want to share your experience from your OT studies and how the system in your country works or maybe note down the differences and similarities like we did! If you would like to do so, do not hesitate and contact either me via email or Instagram or the girls! (ALL CONTACT INFORMATION IS PROVIDED ON THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG).

Let’s get started, shall we?

Occupational therapy in the Netherlands

As an occupational therapist you support people who are no longer able to do ordinary, everyday things due to physical or psychological complaints. You look at the problems but also at what someone can still do and look for a solution together. The client’s wishes are the key and essential to setting goals (client – centered). As an occupational therapist you look at what is possible to achieve these goals. For example, you provide training in dressing, come up with custom writing or kitchen materials or give advice on tools such as a wheelchair.

As an occupational therapist you advise and train people who have difficulties performing daily activities as a result of:

– Rheumatism

– Acquired brain injury

– Chronic pain

– Dementia

– Muscular diseases

– Chronic fatigue syndrome

– Neurological disorders

– Hand injuries

– Age complaints

– Mental disorder

– Burnout / depression

– Psychiatric disorders

– Delayed developments in children

Occupational therapy in Greece

OT’s in Greece have the exact same role as the ones in the Netherlands. They work with clients in neurological, psychological, pediatric, geriatric centers and centers for displaced people. Besides helping people with physical or mental difficulties be more independent in their everyday life, they also help socially alienated people get back on track with their social life. It is really great seeing OT’s go out there in the community and train these people to cope with the modern and fast way of living!

Education in OT in the Netherlands

During the study you learn how to advise, train and coach clients. You have to be able to listen well and come up with creative solutions so that the person can do things independently again. At home, at work, at school or during leisure time. The study takes four years. In the first two years you are working on eight different modules. Each module lasts ten weeks. These modules are about chronically ill people, children, labor, the elderly, rehabilitation, mental health, in the neighborhood and competent on an internship. As a result, the program tries to give the student as broad a view as possible of where you can all work as an occupational therapist.

The first year the student is tested on the theory of the subject and a skills test consisting of two skills that the student must perform for twenty minutes. The skills test is designed by deploying simulation clients. This simulates a situation that is as realistic as possible. In addition to the theory and skills tests, there is also a performance assessment. This is a combination of the theory and skills test in one. The performance assessment starts with reading in one case. Then the theory part starts. This is an oral discussion in which the student is justified and substantiated his or her choices. After the theoretical part another skill takes place that lasts about twenty minutes. Here the student performs the skill with a simulation client that he / she has substantiated in the theory part.

In the second year, the student is assessed by means of a performance assessment. In addition, attention is paid to making an innovative assignment.

During the third grade, the student has the choice to do an internship throughout the year or to start the first half year with electives and a minor. Then The student starts an internship during the last six months.

If the student in the third grade has chosen to do an internship throughout the year, this will start in the fourth grade with electives and a minor. If the student has chosen to start with elective courses and a minor at the start of grade 3, he / she will start the second internship in the first half of grade 4. The last six months will focus on graduation. Students choose a study from this, usually in groups of three, and make a thesis out of it.

Outside of regular testing and lessons, students are responsible for their own free study space and internationalization hours. Free study space means that the student gains knowledge about occupational therapy outside school hours. In addition, hours are also entered for internationalization. The intention is that the students are involved internationally and culturally. Students are allowed to recruit assignments themselves for both free study space and internationalization.

Education in OT in Greece

In Greece OT practitioners get to study for four years as well. The annual number of the modules differs but fluctuates from 9 to 15 (depending on the curriculum!). Each year we get to have a clinical practice which lasts, the first two years, 6 weeks, and the last two, 8 weeks. We never learn and practice with the same population group twice, for example I worked with neurological patients during my first practice and with psychiatric patients during my second one. This way, we get to experience and work with many different professionals and clients.

During our first year we were taught about occupation – focused models and professionals standards, along with other modules, so we could practice during our clinical practices. This pattern is followed every year, we get to learn a different set of skills and theories and have the opportunities to practice them with our clinical supervisors’ guidance on our clients. On the fourth year we get to choose between several option lessons, some of them being specifically made for students who want to work in a neurological clinic or in a psychiatric institution etc.

Apart from the curriculum, we have to study on our own time as well, in order to keep up with the lecture and be up-to-date with the current literature.

Wrapping up

To sum up, the way every university teaches its students and the means it uses can differ significantly, especially from country to country but they all have one common goal, to help OT practitioners get the most out of their lecturers’ knowledge and experience and utilize the theoretical background for their benefit.

For those who want to learn more about OT in Greece, you can read the first blog I uploaded here –> https://www.spoteurope.eu/spots-new-blogger-and-the-somewhat-ancient-history-of-ot-in-greece/

And for those who want to know more about OT in the Netherlands, you can contact either Vera or Tahnee via email: 17**************@zu**.nl and 17*************@zy**.nl

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