Dawn Occupational Therapist

Meet Dawn, an Occupational Therapist here at UHS. To celebrate AHP week, we caught up with her to find out about her time at UHS and what it's like being an Allied Health Professional.

Can you go through your background a little bit?

"I graduated from Plymouth University in 2013. I completed three placements across community learning disabilities, community physical rehabilitation, and a role emerging placement within a refugee charity. Whilst completing my second rotation within the community physical rehabilitation team I found my passion for Occupational Therapy in relation to adaptations and supporting physical recovery. On qualifying, I began my first post in a community physical rehabilitation team. I really enjoyed this job working with clients in their own homes; with varying interventions from simple adaptations to supporting complex patients with deteriorating and long-term conditions over a longer period of time. After working in the community for just over a year I decided that I wished to move on to an acute setting and be able to work more closely alongside a wide OT team to develop my skills and knowledge further."


Why did you choose UHS?

"When looking for my next post I knew I wanted to next move into an acute hospital setting. I looked at the different hospitals within the local area and UHS was the hospital that stood out to me. The rotations offered within UHS as a band 5 are so varied and cover such a wide range of specialist areas which I knew would help me develop a rich and varied depth of knowledge of skills. I also knew that from being a large teaching hospital I would have the opportunity to be surrounded by many exceptionally skilled OTs to learn from, as well as a much wider multi-disciplinary team to supplement my personal development further."


What opportunities have you had at UHS?

"I started as a band 5 and completed rotation across medicine for older persons and stroke. At this point, I was approached to ask if I had considered the band 6 rotations. I was successful at the interview and completed further band 6 rotations in Medicine, Cardiac and Medicine for older persons. Whilst on the band 6 rotation a post came up as a band 7 within the medicine team. From working in this area I knew this was an area I was really passionate about, however, felt I was not quite ready to become a band 7. I had a discussion with my line manager regarding this and expressed my passion for this area, and wish to progress to a band 7 however acknowledged my concerns regarding needing more experience prior to being a band 7. We discussed the option of undertaking a progressive band 6-7 post for this position. I was successful at the interview for this a began a year-long development programme to support my learning and development. This opportunity was fantastic for supporting my progression with the trust, giving me the opportunity to engage in a learning programme with clear competencies, leading to me becoming a confident band 7 at the end of the year."


Why have you stayed at UHS?

"I am currently a band 7 working within a respiratory high dependency unit. I absolutely love the variety of the role which allows me to utilise a wide range of OT skills including functional rehabilitation, cognitive assessments and rehabilitation, complex discharge planning, mood-enhancing activities and so much more. One of my favourite aspects of the role is supporting post-intensive care patients in their recovery, and seeing the value OT can play in making this person-centred and meaningful to the individual. My role is quite unique, and not a role that would be readily found in another setting which has been a big reason for me staying. I additionally love working with both my immediate team – who are always fun and supportive, but also having the wider team of different specialist OTs to seek guidance from, as well as the wider multi-disciplinary team. Every day really is a learning day!"


Why did you choose to be an Occupational Therapist?

"I grew up in a family of people who worked in roles caring for others, and I always knew this was the route I wanted to take for my career. Whilst deciding what I wanted to study at university I considered lots of different health care related roles. Occupational Therapy really stood out to me as its core ethos was on the person and what was meaningful for them. I was also drawn to the concept of the play that occupational engagement has on health and well-being, and how this can be utilised to support recovery."


What’s the most rewarding thing?

"The patients – being able to support a patient through their recovery journey in a hospital across a broad range of areas including cognition, physical, functional, and psychological – for Occupational Therapy this does not only come from tangible improvement in ability but can be through enabling occupational engagement with compensatory techniques. It’s all about supporting patients to engage in what is meaningful for them."


Fun fact about the AHP profession?

"OT is the only profession at an undergraduate level to study people across both a physical and mental health approach, and be qualified to work across both sectors."


What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming an AHP?

"Do it – it is a brilliant profession that often requires some lateral and out-the-box thinking but also comes with a sense of really supporting a patient with areas that are meaningful to them."

To find out about our open AHP career opportunites, click here.