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What is a Virtual Occupational Therapy Placement?

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I started my role-emerging virtual placement this week, which I need to do a lot of explaining about…

For my role-emerging placement we decided to combine occupational therapy (OT) with my blog - Not So Terrible Palsy - and my role in the online community. So, this means that I’m on placement as I write this blog. How great is that? As I’m writing, it's day 3. I’ve barely got my foot through the doorway, but I’m already having the best time!

So, what is a virtual occupational therapy placement?

The truth is, I don’t really know what it is myself, as it's far too early to say; I’m writing this blog as much for my sake as I am yours. But I can give you a bit of background about the nature of this part-time placement and tell you a bit about what I have planned for the next 12 weeks.

Background information

To start this story off, let me introduce you to my supervisor, the lovely and creative Margaret Spencer. I was lucky to have a halfway visit from Margaret during my paediatric placement last year. I was more than lucky as, during this visit, Margaret asked me what area of OT I wanted to go into. This is when I mentioned combining occupational therapy and blogging, which is where the idea of the placement came from.

The online disabled community is growing. So, why isn’t occupational therapy growing with it?

This is why I started producing OT content on my blog and why I published Why I Study Occupational Therapy. This blog was to lay the foundations for this placement and, ever since then, Margaret and I have been chipping away at it so much so that I did 15 hours’ worth of placement before it even started.

What my placement is going to look like

It took Margaret and I a while to decide how we wanted this placement to look. Even though being online is a big part of it, it’s not the only purpose.

During my last placement, I was very open about how emotionally challenging I found it (see my blog Transitioning from a Service User to a Healthcare Professional). Therefore, another major element to my placement is this transition. I will be discussing this in my #OTalk on Twitter on 21st April, in the hope that I will find some top tips to enhance my confidence, ready for my next traditional placement.

As well as my #OTalk, I have a whole bunch of things lined up, including talks at Sheffield Hallam University and Derby University, plus a podcast. I will be working closely with CP Teens UK, as Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month falls in the middle of placement - talk about perfect timing! I will also be attending the Naidex show in Birmingham and will be blogging about my thoughts before and after the show…

Oh yeah, I haven’t mentioned why I took a break yet... During my placement, there will be a blog every week on my site! I mean, it is a virtual placement after all. We even have our own hashtag: #VirtualOTPlacement. I will also be running an online intervention; although the intervention is not top of my agenda yet, I’m already having a few ideas.

A big aim for my placement is changing people’s attitudes about disability, so I want my target audience for intervention to be parents or carers who have just been given a new diagnosis for their child.

To find out:

  • How this diagnosis was delivered

  • How this affects attitudes towards disability

For example, a big question I want to ask is: Was the explanation of the diagnosis delivered to them in a suitable way - and was the right terminology used?

That’s why I dropped another post in, Establishing Effective Terminology to Minimise Barriers. I was hesitant to include my intervention in my blog, in case this idea falls through. But then I thought, 'how will I ever get anyone to be involved in my intervention if I don’t get the word out there?' So that’s what I’m doing. I apologise in advance, as this blog is going to be shared a lot during these first few weeks!

Why does a virtual occupational therapy placement work for me?

A virtual placement works for me because it’s a lot more flexible. I can work whenever I want... I mean, it’s nearly 10pm as I’m writing this. This is not like me, but I am well and truly in the zone!

Due to it being flexible, I can tailor it towards my needs and work at my own pace. If I’ve had a bad night and didn’t sleep then I can have a few extra hours in bed and start working later on, which works well with my fatigue levels. Another advantage is that I can sit in the chair that’s made for me every day, which works better with my posture. Anyone can do this placement - and this is why this placement means so much to me.

I want to scope this out and lay the foundations - so that future students can also do a virtual occupational therapy role-emerging placement, as everyone has different ideas.

So, I hope you follow me on this placement and see what I get up to, by using the hashtag #VirtualOTPlacement and checking out my blogs - because none of this will work without your support! I hope my placement now makes more sense to those who were already aware of it.

Thank you for reading,


1 Comment

Loving this, Georgia. Thank you for paving the way for a creative approach to delivering OT.

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