**Blog post by BACA Occupational Therapist Angela L. Seal, MOT, OTR
For the past three months, I have had the privilege of mentoring an up-and-coming occupational therapist. Megan Allen is an occupational therapy student from the University of Indianapolis. She began her affiliation with BACA on May 20, 2013, which was her first of two affiliations. She plans to graduate in December after returning to U of I to complete final coursework and present her research. In the new year, she will be required to pass a national board certification exam, which I am sure you can imagine is a very nerve-wracking experience (couldn’t pay me to take this exam again!).
Taking on a student can be a very difficult professional act as an occupational therapist. When you bring on a student, he or she will ask a lot of questions (good, thought-provoking questions). Then as the seasoned therapist, I have to think back on the fundamentals of being an occupational therapist because I have to put into words the clinical reasoning behind each activity. This can be very difficult when what you do during therapy has become second-nature. There has not been a time I haven’t taken a student on that I have not grown in the experience. It allows me to take time out to ask myself many questions. Why did I do that activity in that way? Was that the best way to complete that session? What can I do to make this session better? If I saw my student completing the session the way I did, what constructive feedback would I give? Then there are the many nights I lay awake wondering if I am being the best clinical instructor I can be … as I try to fit the nine years of experience I have into three months.
So, why do it? Why not do it! The time I spend with a student is some of the most rewarding time I get to have as an occupational therapist. I love OT, and I have had the chance for the past three months to pass that excitement for a profession I love to a new therapist by showing her the depths of our profession. I have had the privilege of seeing her grow as a therapist and person. I have had the ability to revel in her excitement as a client she has worked with has gained a new skill. I have had all the opportunity in the world to discuss OT, and as any professional knows, one gets really giddy when they get with other professionals in their field and are able to talk the talk of their profession. The experience of having a student allows me to grow as a clinician and, in the long run, helps my clients succeed in what they are doing.
Megan’s last day is August 9, 2013. Please take the time to congratulate Megan on a job well done and wish her luck for the future! I am excited to see what the future holds for her as she begins her career.