Case study

Occupational therapist — Jacqui Brett

As a recently qualified occupational therapist, Jacqui is already using her skills to develop occupational therapy provision where she works. Find out more about how occupational therapists make a positive difference to people's lives

How did you get your job?

I graduated with a first class honours degree in occupational therapy from Wrexham Glyndŵr University in 2019.

I signed up with NHS Jobs, which notifies applicants of suitable vacancies in their area. When I saw the job for an occupational therapist with an NHS Trust, I jumped at the opportunity. I actually interviewed in February, long before my final exams and results were in as these roles can be competitive, so I didn't want to wait.

What's a typical working day like?

I usually carry out an assessment, analysing an individual's barriers to occupation. I work collaboratively with them to identify strengths and opportunities, both within their community and themselves.

I may spend time speaking to charities about bespoke opportunities, referring to local schemes and reasoning future interventions with the individual. The overarching goal is the recovery of ordinary lives through meaningful activity, helping individuals do what they want, or need, to do in areas such as self-care, productivity or leisure.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I can really see the difference a successful therapeutic alliance makes and that person-centred care can have a significant impact on avoiding self-harm, minimising risk, optimising engagement and improving wellbeing.

I have the freedom to be creative in my role and I enjoy the mix of community and office-based work. Working with such a great team helps too.

What are the challenges?

I found the most challenging aspect was coming into this position as a newly qualified therapist. Finding my feet, my voice and my place were quite daunting at first.

How is your degree relevant?

My degree enabled me to hold the post of occupational therapist. It is a protected title and an accredited degree is required to practise in this field.

The degree combines both academic study and practical field-based education. This played a vital part in developing my professional identity, recognising my strengths and weaknesses, and identifying an area of practice to specialise in.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My post had previously been combined with care-coordination duties, common in community mental health. However, I was fortunate enough to be able to practise occupational therapy without these additional duties.

Since starting in the job, I have helped to define prioritisation for referrals and I am following a new model of practice within the service. I have also created a sensory-based wellbeing room for staff members.

I hope to add to my formal training with a Masters degree in the future.

What advice can you give to others wanting to get into this job?

  • Don't underestimate the value of volunteering and work shadowing - Both university course providers and employers appreciate those who have shown real interest in the area.
  • Have a look at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website - As our professional body they hold a wealth of information about the value and role of occupational therapists.
  • Do your research - What support do you have? Do you need childcare? Would you qualify for funding? Look at potential barriers you may face and then contact the university admissions team for any support you may need.

Find out more

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