Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Reminiscing ..... how about you?

My student room 1980
 Having recently taken on the role of Admissions Tutor I have been learning the ropes as I go along and also considering what, if any, changes we may need to make in light of the recent Francis Report which recommends we consider values and attitudes of new recruits with particular reference to dignity and compassion. After a few consultation sessions with staff, students and service users, I am in the process of writing up my report to present to the team in a few months time.

Last week saw the last of our interviews for next year's BSC (Hons) Occupational Therapy full time  students so I now have the hard task of selecting 56 students from the 120 students invited for interview... phew - I may need lots of coffee and chocolate over the next few days. Luckily I have Heather Davidson to help me as the experienced admissions tutor I have taken over from.

As my current focus is on this process, a small period of reminiscence raised it's head as I discussed with a colleague our own interview for OT training and our subsequent experience of being an OT student. The difference between then (dare I say my interview was 33 years ago now ?!) and today is rather extreme and I thought it may be something to share here. I would be interested to hear your comments and to read about your own experience, whenever that was.

One of things that stick in my mind at interview was being asked "what does you father do?" and "do you have a boyfriend?". I imagine that the former was to see what my background may be and the latter to see whether I was dedicated to study or if I was going to have a distraction in the form of a relationship. Can't imagine asking these questions today!! I seem to have vague memories of a group discussion and certainly a written task where I had to choose between writing about a holiday I had taken and what I knew about learning disability. I chose to write about a holiday - but have no recollection what I actually said. I got offered a place though and started September 1980 so I must have done something right.
The letter of acceptance asked us to bring certain things to college (wasn't university in them days!) which included:
a) tape measure
b) scissors
c) an apron
d) a travel rug (never did find out what this was to be for).

I arrived  at St Andrew's School of OT in Northampton (in the grounds of a very grand Psychiatric Hospital) and was given accommodation in the Nurses' Home with all the other first year students (we had to source outside accommodation in year 2). Meals were provided in the hospital canteen - although we were allowed kettles and toasters in our rooms (at least I think we were allowed - we did anyway).  Our timetable was full Monday through Friday 9am-5pm with 2 nights of evening classes at a local FE college for touch typing and woodwork.
Our days in college were taken with lectures (psychology, sociology, medicine, surgery and orthopaedics, communication and management and then anatomy and physiology which was an all day event every Thursday at Nene College - a local polytechnic) and practical activities of weaving, basketry, stool seating, lathe and fretwork, metal work, cookery and printing. We also had to put on a show for the resident patients within the hospital at the end of the first year - I remember dancing a hornpipe and singing a solo (don't ask!!).
Unlike now where our students have placements throughout each level and sourced locally,  our placements were mainly in final year and we could be sent anywhere in the country. We had a one day observation placement running through 6 weeks of first year, one month at the end of second year (I was sent to Hounslow Social services and lodged with an Archdeacon and his family) and then the final year was totally out on placement - returning for one day periods through the year to sit exams and then a final 6 weeks back in college for revision and final exams. My placements were in London, Poole and Norfolk - so every 12 weeks or so I would be packing up and moving to the next placement with very little contact from College at this time (as far as I remember).
I left with a Diploma and a clear desire to work in Norfolk in Mental Health - and one that I achieved.
So, just a little indulgence there - thankyou for allowing me this - but I really would like to hear what your training was/is like whether in the UK or anywhere in the world.

PS: Oh, and my student uniform was blue!