It is nice writting to you, once again, and this month I have something more ‘personal’ that I want to share with you.
During the past month, I have been reflecting a lot on my previous placements for an assignment that is due 3 weeks from now and I realized that I have experienced some difficulties during these placements which I would love to share with you.
Let me know if you had the same difficulties and what your solutions were! Or if you want to share your experiences regarding your placements feel free to reach out. (all my contact information will be at the end of this blog post)
So lets get started!
Barriers during my placement
During the first year of my studies I had my first clinical practice in a neurological center, where I got to see the application of OT for the first time.
It was so different from what I had in mind since they were mostly utilizing the biomedical model and anything related to that and I only got to see the occupation as a means to therapy but still, not quite.
The first difficulty did not take long to occur since the placement was far from where I lived and near me, the only means of transportation was (and still is) a bus. I used to leave from home 2 hours before my shift so I would not be late and during those hours I took two different bus routes to reach my destination. Not only was I tired before starting an 8-hour shift but I developed chondropathy on my right knee pad due to me standing for 2 hours and holding on to dear life because the bus was always so crowded.
Besides this physical barrier, having to be inside a bus for 4 hours per day was really inconvenient when it comes down to spending time on studying and research. I was awake from 6 am and I got home at 7 pm so studying was not always easy for me after so many hours of working and standing. One could say that I was experiencing occupational imbalance and one would be right!
Even when I got over and got used to this program more difficulties arose which I only realized after talking with my supervisor. It was quite difficult for me to get along with all my colleagues since I was used to watching things escalate and learn through observing rather than contributing my own ideas out of fear of being wrong. Since it was my first placement I was really lost when it came down to applying OT theories and practices and that was the reason I wanted to watch and learn than be a part of the team.
When trying to adapt I experienced different difficulties regarding the way I communicated with the people receiving services in the center. Since a lot of the people there were diagnosed with a stroke, most of their cognitive functions were impaired, a fact that I did not take into consideration when communicating with them. Some people would get a little too comfortable around me and some others were taken aback because they weren’t that talkative.
All of the above pretty much sum up the difficulties I experienced during my first placement. Thankfully, most of these things were not a problem during my second placement, but I did have a problem with taking initiative.
Things I do to help me improve
The first thing I always have to do is of course realize what the problem is and why it occurs. Talking with my supervisor is always a great start since they are always noticing behaviors and patterns that are too internalized for me to understand. Therefore, I tend to observe more my environment, the needs of the people who receive the services, the way I communicate, and the way I let my personal traits affect me.
The most important part for me is looking back at these experiences and being able to reflect on them more clearly. This way I can identify the mistakes I made and what made me act certain ways, how my traits and background affects my practice and what should I do instead.
Of course, this is how I help myself become better and this process differs from person to person and from context to context, as we, OTs, like to phrase it.
As I mentioned before these solutions are not the only ones that can prove helpful nor are they the only ones that can help someone grow and be better during their placement. Which is why I would love to hear your solutions to the difficulties that have come up during your placements!
You can either send me a message on Instargram: @kanetakhe or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org