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Discovering a Rewarding Career Path as an Occupational Therapy (OT) Apprentice

My name is Bex and I'm an Occupational Therapy (OT) apprentice, based in the Optalis Local Access Point (LAP) team. The LAP team are a multi-disciplinary team, and includes colleagues from Mental Health services, nurses, hospital teams and social workers.

I've been asked to share my experiences and insights about this exciting career path.

Firstly, let me explain what an OT apprentice is. As an OT apprentice, I work alongside experienced OTs to gain practical on the job experience, while completing an intensive three-year degree course, which has been arranged through the learning and development team at Optalis. I spend one day a week on campus at university, and complete some learning in my own time, alongside the hands on learning I experience through work. I have a work-based mentor, who is my supervisor – Diane Macdonald, Principal OT for Optalis. We have regular meetings with my lecturer to help me progress on my course. The apprenticeship course has been a perfect fit for my situation, I have a young family and need to continue to earn while I train.

Working in the LAP team has been a fantastic opportunity to learn from professionals across the health and social care and develop the skills needed to become a successful and rounded OT. I could not have picked a better team to join. From the first day I was sitting in on meetings and out on shadowing visits, I have learnt so much from the whole team. As an OT, you must be holistic and consider every aspect of the person’s wellbeing, and the LAP team helps do that for everyone they support. Because I’ve worked alongside so many different professionals, I am not daunted by something that I may see that’s not in my professional remit, I feel confident speaking to colleagues and getting advice. 

One of the things I love about being an OT apprentice is that it's a practical role, with more direct contact with people than my previous role. A lot of people assume that it's just about using equipment, but it's very broad and you have the freedom to look at the whole person and be creative.

I am incredibly lucky to be based in the LAP team. It has been inspiring to work alongside experienced Mental Health colleagues, Nurses and other professionals in the LAP team and to see them all still learning and developing. I thought I was stuck with my career choices, but I have been given a second chance to re-study and find a role that aligns with my key beliefs. It's never too late to change your path, it’s a big commitment and lots of hard work but my team is very supportive. Over time I hope to progress further in my career and become a senior OT, leading a team. 

If you're considering a career as an OT apprentice, my advice would be to go for it! It's a challenging and rewarding career path that offers endless opportunities for growth and development. If you have a passion for care and helping others, then occupational therapy could be the perfect fit for you.

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