Moving Abroad to Work as an Occupational Therapist

Hi All! I am Jena, you may know me as the social media lead of SPOT Europe. I have just finished my pre-registration master’s at the University of Derby in England. I moved from Canada to complete my master’s and was exited to return home after 2 years away from amazing maple syrup, my family and friends, and views like this!

However, in the transition of moving home I have learned LOADS about moving abroad to work as an OT. While some of it is Canada specific, it can all be transferred to other countries.

MY TOP TIPS FOR MOVING ABROAD AS AN OT

1. Check what immigration policies are like for OTs 

This is easily the most boring part of the process. But, before you go through the process of applying for jobs and talking with employers make sure you will be able to move to this country and work! This is particularly important if you plan to move out of the European Union. It stinks to feel like you’ve wasted time and a dream on moving to a country that immigrating to is really hard or impossible!

2. Check the WFOT certification

Some countries require that all OTs attend a WFOT certified school, some need more, and some do not require WFOT certification. Find out what certifications the programme you attended have and if they are compatible with the country that you wish to migrate to. You can check all of those things here: https://www.wfot.org/programmes/education/wfot-approved-education-programmes .

3. Read the OT regulating body’s webpage AND CONTACT THEM

Almost every country has a group that makes sure OTs working in that country are properly trained. If you are interested in moving to a country, just google that country and occupational therapy/ergotherapie. I read the Canadian OT’s webpage on internationally educated occupational therapists over and over. However, I still got far more information when I e-mailed the representative. She was able to discuss with me things like what I could do prior to graduation to best prepare myself for working in Canada. She also gave me a few tips and tricks for the application process that were so helpful! It can be tempting to do things online, but speaking with a person involved is so helpful!

4. Be Prepared

After making sure you have a full understanding of what you need to do to get a license to practice OT in your new country, make sure you are ready to do all the steps that are required. Some preparation may be required. For example, in Canada and the USA you need to write a national exam and it is important to be ready for this to do well and pass!

5. Make a Budget and Start Saving!

Everyone’s migration will be different, so take a good look at your circumstances and make a budget. Will you need to move into an apartment before you get your first pay cheque? Do you need to pay to write an exam? Will you need to pay for a visa? How much will a plane cost? What about transporting all of your things to your new home? All of these things cost money and although it’s not a lot of fun, it will make you feel much better once you have arrived in your new home! Plus allocate some money to do fun things in your new home!!

6. Be Patient or Be Flexible

Some countries will be easy to immigrate to and work as an OT, some will be more complicated and take more time. If you are set on a location that takes a little while, be patient. Follow all the steps as best you can. If you’re like me and you’re not patient be prepared to be flexible. Either be flexible about your location and pick a different country to explore while you wait. Or be flexible about your job! Sometimes OT assistant jobs or jobs in a related field can be just as rewarding and will allow you to explore and live in a new country with less paper work! It’s up to you which route you want to go, but recognize that you will need to be patient or flexible.

7. Discover and Sell Your International Self!

Although it can be scary to apply for jobs in another country remember that you are bringing something unique and hard to come by! Use SPOT or another OT Facebook group to connect with OTs from the country you are hoping to immigrate to. Use these resources to highlight the differences and what potentially unique perspectives or ideas you can introduce to a service. Show how being an international OT will ADD to a service and its users! There are loads of conferences and online forums to help you get a good grasp on international OT and make informed choices!

Upcoming International Activities in Amsterdam!

COHEHRE event: November 4th-6th

“THE ETHICS IN BUILDING
SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIPS WITH COMMUNITY PARTNERS IN EDUCATION”

Check out the Cohere Academy which facilitates international conversation amongst several health care students! It’s a great time to swap ideas and get a feel for what OT may look like in other countries! Check it out here: http://www.cohehre.com/index.php/calendar/.

International Mobility Week: November 6th-8th

Another opportunity is the International Mobility week. This weeks theme is looking at marginalised groups in a range of settings! Find out more here: http://www.cohehre.com/index.php/event/1235/ or stay updated on our Facebook page!

SPOT – News & Activities

 

Just giving everyone an update about SPOT’s recent activities and exciting ideas for the future!

As SPOTeurope develops there will be a few role changes and a lot more opportunities for YOU to become involved in sharing your experiences! 

See below for an update from each of the SPOT board members:

(more info on each member can be found on The Board page)

 

Marlies – President

Over the past months a lot of changes happened within SPOT. First of all (and sadly) we’ve waved Maurane and Valia goodbye because they are now qualified OT’s (yay them!). Luckily we welcomed two new wonderful board members, Alex & Natalie, who will bring new energy and refreshing ideas into our team 🙂

As a (new) team we’re making new plans and progress on taking SPOT to the next level. You can expect the ‘How-to guide’ for the Mini SPOTs very soon, just like the (long promised 😉) map of all the OT schools in Europe. Thank you to the students who are already developing the mini SPOT’s and sharing SPOT within Uni; we’re growing really fast! Keep up this great work.

Besides my tasks for SPOT, I’ve been part of the ENOTHE’s board since the ENOTHE annual meeting in October 2018, as the first Student Board Member. I’m involved in the day to day tasks and decisions within this board. In a few months I’ll write a blog about my experiences and tasks as a board member, so you all will have a better idea on what I’m doing! If you have ideas or changes you’d like to see within the OT education / ENOTHE : please let me know! I’m your voice and would love to share it.

Lastly, I want to thank Lottie with all my heart. She’s stepping down from her role as Vice President very soon. Lottie was the first one to join me in SPOT and without her, SPOT wouldn’t exist like it’s now. We’re going to miss you!


Charlotte – Vice President

After nearly 2 years in the role of Vice President, I am stepping down and handing my role over to Cassandra, (our Mini SPOT Coordinator).

I hope she enjoys her time as much as I have! My SPOT journey has taught me so much about occupational therapy across Europe. I’ve had some amazing experiences, in some amazing locations, and feel very proud to have contributed to SPOT’s growth.

Thank you to all the students, practitioners and educators who have also been part of that.

Let’s be sure to stay in touch!


Cassandra – Mini SPOT Coordinator/ soon to be Vice President

SPOT has grown a lot in the last year and this makes me very happy ! I started as the Mini SPOT Coordinator one year ago. Since then, I have worked on developing knowledge around the mini SPOT’s, created a ‘How-to guide’ and supported other students who wanted to set up a mini SPOT.

In the upcoming year I will be part of SPOT in a different way. Our current Vice President Charlotte will step down soon and I will pursue her role. I am really looking forward to this and hope to meet lots of new OT students!

Please contact me at vicepresident@spoteurope.eu if you have any questions!

Anything relating to mini SPOT’s please email Alex at outreach@spoteurope.eu


Alex – Outreach Coordinator

I first learned about SPOT at the 2017 ENOTHE AM in Zagreb. I was really intrigued by their ideas for internationalisation and student exchange so I became a student representative for my university in Innsbruck, Austria. In the past year I’ve tried to promote SPOT and get my colleagues interested in international activities and student exchange. A few months ago I then joined the SPOT board as Outreach Coordinator. Since then I’ve been establishing and maintaining contact with students and lecturers across Europe, helping them with their own activities including setting up mini SPOT’s.

My aim is to spread awareness of SPOT and help anyone who is interested to get on board!

With Cassandra pursuing her position as Vice President, her old role and mine will be merged and I’ll take over her responsibilities.

If you have any questions on how to get involved or need inspiration setting things up at your school/university, feel free to contact me anytime at outreach@spoteurope.eu


Jena – Social Media Lead

Our social media has continued to grow and we are so happy about that!! We are looking forward to having 1000 Facebook likes!

Highlights of our social media include #mememonday and self-care Sunday!

Check us out on Facebook, twitter, and Instagram 

We are also hoping to start a “day in the life of an OT student” on our Instagram stories, so if you’re interested in showing SPOT what you get up to every day message us on Instagram @SPOTeurope!!


Natalie – Blogger

I’m currently searching for future guest bloggers that would be interested in sharing their activities and experiences of Occupational Therapy!

Guest blogs can include information about: placements, student activities, conferences & events, interesting news articles and more!

Please get in touch if you have something you want us to share or you are interested in writing a guest blog!

Email me at  blogger@spoteurope.eu or contact me through Twitter @Nat_Pickering

 

New Year- New SPOT Blogger!

Hi, I’m Natalie 🙂   The new blogger for SPOTeurope!

About Me

I’m a first year student at the University of Worcester in the UK.
I’ve only just started my OT journey and have lots more to learn over the next three years!

I’m excited to be part of SPOT to share new perspectives and opportunities for us as students. I really believe in the benefits of internationalisation and sharing our experiences to support each other and promote our incredible profession! I have an interest in the Arts and anything creative, especially if its combined with improving wellbeing 🙂

 

The Blog

The aim of the blog is to connect OT students in Europe and the world through posting interesting news, activities, tips and experiences we have as students!

Articles will be posted twice a month, on Wednesdays. Some posts will be my me, but most will be by students like you! or other people linked to Occupational Therapy.

 

My role

I am on the lookout for people who want to share their experiences relating to Occupational Therapy!

This list below has a few suggestions but we are happy to include new ideas if you have them!

  • Experiences on placement
  • Student activities (Mini SPOT’s, mobility weeks, workshops, guest speakers etc)
  • Service users experiences of OT
  • Interesting conferences or events
  • News and current topics around OT and healthcare
  • OT practitioners and current research
  • Emerging OT roles of the future

Everyone has the opportunity to become involved! 

Guest blogs can be written by anyone with an interest in Occupational Therapy: students, service users, practitioners, researchers, other health professionals, the list goes on!

Don’t worry, creating an article is quick and simple! I can offer support and guidance to help you write your blog post and include any photos or videos you want to show.

 

Please get in touch if you have something you want us to share or you are interested in writing a guest blog!

Email me at  blogger@spoteurope.eu or contact me through Twitter @Nat_Pickering

Look forward to hearing from you all! 🙂