The SHOUT Team was lucky enough to share a train ride with local OTs Helen Saunders and Sue Peters on the way up to the COT Conference in June. We made the most of this opportunity and carried out a brief interview, finding out about their experiences as students and practising OTs, and tips for attending conference.
In between sips of tea they answered our hastily formed questions as we sped towards Scotland.
Look out for the surprise question at the end!
We're interested to know how long you've been practising and what area you've specialised in?
Helen: I retrained, having worked as a nurse, and have been practicing for 4 years. I started out in adult social services, then elderly mental health and have gone on to work in learning disabilities.
Sue: I've been practising for 7 years, and I'm a band 6 working in surgery and amputations at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. I started out in acute medicine through a rotational post, moving into surgery and then forensic learning disabilities. I then worked as a locum, with amputees, and in adult mental health.
What has changed since you first started practising?
Helen: The Agenda for Change.... And there were more jobs!
Is this where you imagined you'd be when you were a student?
Helen: Yes! I always knew I wanted to work with people with learning difficulties.
Sue: I thought I wanted to work in community mental health. I never thought I would want to work in forensics - but I loved it!
What did you love about studying at Sheffield Hallam?
Helen: The EBL (evidence based learning) groups were a good way to learn. EBL has its pros and cons but I found this a valuable part of the course. I also really enjoyed setting up SHOUT during my time there.
Sue: Its a great course with a good mix of theory and practice, and supportive staff. I agree about the EBL sessions - they help to prepare you for MDT working, can influence your practice and prepare you for continuous learning.
Helen, as the founder of SHOUT, what led you to set up this student-led group?
I wanted to bring students and clinicians together. I felt there weren't enough opportunities for students to mix with clinicians and make connections. SHOUT is also good for clinicians in practice, helping with CPD.
Can you think of any advice you'd like to share with current students?
Helen: SHOUT - get involved in it! Have a heart for it and be enthusiastic about it. For anyone working in the SHOUT team: get the networking going at the evening events, introduce students to clinicians and vice versa - get people talking! (SHOUT explained that this is one of our key objectives for the new term of events. We've noticed that people attending don't always feel comfortable talking to people they don't know, so we'll be going round getting people chatting and making introductions!)
Sue: Keep going. The 2nd year is hard but try to enjoy the student experience. And remember to network!
What do you enjoy most about being on the BAOT Trent Regional Board?
Helen: Meeting like-minded people and networking.
Sue: Yes, meeting other OTs, and the opportunity to stretch yourself and gain new skills.
Are there any hot topics that have caught your interest at the moment?
Helen: Sensory integration. This is very new, only being incorporated into treatment in the last 10 years. I did my dissertation in autism, so this area really interests me.
Sue: Extending the scope of practice. I would like to see better support for people with acute needs out in the community. Discharge planning. Needs are constantly changing but there is no one to follow through prosthetic rehab. Also, funding: looking at what other services are doing in other areas and learning from this.
OK, time for a silly question I was recently asked in a job application: if you were an animal, which one would you be?
Helen: A zebra.
SHOUT: Care to elaborate?
SHOUT: OK then.
SHOUT: OK then.
Sue (as the train goes through a tunnel): A mole - I feel like one right now!
What good sports! Stay tuned for the rest of our interview with Helen and Sue on their previous experiences of attending conference and what they were most looking forward to at COT Conference 2012.