Are you passionate about helping people? Are you interested in a career within the Allied Health field? If so, studying a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at UQ could be something for you — if you need a quick refresher on all the specifics of the degree, have a quick look here!
You probably still have one question though: how do people really feel about Occupational Therapy at UQ?
Well, you’ve definitely ended up at the right spot — say hi to Erin, a fourth year Occupational Therapy student at UQ. We ask her all those questions you really want to know the answers to.
So, let’s dive in!
Why should you study an Occupational Therapy degree at UQ?
A Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) at UQ provides you with a thorough understanding of health as well as all the theoretical knowledge and practical experience you need to feel confident to work as an Occupational Therapist.
You’ll complete more than 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice including placement and fieldwork days. You’ll have the chance to work with other Allied Health students like physios and speech pathologists so you’ll learn how to work well in a team environment.
The cohort is around 100 people so you’ll get to know everyone really well as you progress throughout the degree together!
Top 3 Pros of an Occupational Therapy degree
#1: Good overall view of health
“I like that you get a very broad view of health, we learn about a huge number of things like a lot of the different mental health conditions or the way diabetes works, all the way back to spinal cord injuries,” Erin explained.
In your first year, you definitely develop a thorough understanding of health — you’ll cover anatomy, psychology and you’ll be introduced to Occupational Therapy.
“There’s a lot that you learn in a very short amount of time, which makes you very good at picking up things, like a good general understanding of health,” Erin said.
“No matter where you go, you’d feel confident in yourself,” she added. Now, that’s definitely reassuring!
#2: Practical experience
“You get a lot of experience in a whole bunch of areas, you get a lot of practical skills, a fair bit of hands on stuff,” Erin said.
With more than 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice in all different working environments, you get to develop your OT skills and apply the theories you learn in class to the real world.
Erin also told us that “they’re slowly increasing it, but you’re getting to work a bit more with the physios and the speech pathologists — they’re really trying to build in at the moment”.
Now, this is really beneficial because as an Occupational Therapist, you’ll be working with all kinds of different people including doctors and nurses, physios and speech pathologists — just to name a few. So, it’s really important you’re able to work well with others.
#3: The community
Lucky for you, the Occupational Therapy students at UQ are a really close bunch! You progress through the degree with the same people which means you get to know everyone really well and have the chance to make friends for a lifetime.
“You get to know everyone really well. I think I know everyone’s name and a little bit about them. There’s a big sense of community,” Erin said.
The cohort definitely sticks together! “I don’t think I would have been half the student I was without everyone supporting each other,” Erin told us.
“When you rock up to a lecture in second year and you sit next to someone and they just smile at you — it’s just nice to know that everyone there is lovely and happy to see you,” she added.
Top 3 Cons of an Occupational Therapy degree
#1: Lots of group work
Erin’s least favourite part about the degree is that there’s a lot of group work.
“If you struggle with that, you will have a rough time and I know that almost everyone I’ve talked to has had one group assignment where they were just like, that was terrible,” she explained.
“You’ve got to be ready for that, you’ve got to be prepared and understand it,” she added.
Erin told us, “There is a lot of support if you need it, and they’re quite good at understanding that group work is tricky but that doesn’t negate the difficulties at the same time.”
However, there is of course, a very good reason for placing an emphasis on group work.
#2: Learning anatomy takes a lot of time
In your first year, there’s a LOT of content to learn — especially when it comes to anatomy! There’s no doubt, you do need to learn all of it because it’s a huge area of the Allied Health field and particularly important for Occupational Therapy, however, it’s time-consuming.
“It really takes up a lot of the time that I want to be spending on those more OT subjects, because I want to do those all the time but I really have to study anatomy,” Erin explained.
Now, it’s not necessarily a con, but it does make it challenging to balance the workload. “It is hard, there’s a lot to get through but it does set you up really well,” she said.
So, make sure you stay on top of all that content in the first year! It will be worth it further down the track.
#3: Short notice fieldwork
Now, this isn’t necessarily another con — but once again, something which can be a bit of a challenge!
From the first year, you’ll have fieldwork which basically helps prepare you for your clinical placements later on in your degree. It gives you the chance to work in different environments and get a feel for what a career as an Occupational Therapist could look like.
Fieldwork is usually one day a week for around five weeks. However, you don’t get a whole lot of notice and you have to do it — there’s no choice.
“If you have field work on this day, you have to go, there’s no, ‘Sorry I can’t work today’,” Erin said.
“You don’t always get a huge amount of notice, you’ll get a couple weeks maybe — they can’t tell you weeks and weeks in advance,” she added.
You do know that you’ll have fieldwork at some point in the semester, you just don’t know exactly when which can make it challenging if you have a part-time job.
“That was always tricky, because I can’t plan my life because I don’t know when I have field work and I have to go,” Erin said.
“I don’t have any regrets about studying it,” Emma told us. Now, no regrets while studying a degree is always a very good sign!
Emma gave some good advice which was to “really make the most of it” — in terms of your studies and also uni life.
“There’s a lecture that I missed in first year, that when I was on my most recent placement, I was like, oh, I wish I’d gone to that,” she told us.
So make sure, you try and go to all your lectures and classes — there’s really a lot to learn! Of course, sometimes it’s not possible — you might be sick or miss the bus, but ask your friends to help catch you up.
What do you wish you had known before starting Occupational Therapy at UQ?
Erin’s advice was to “make the most of it”. She also mentioned the heavy load of group work that is involved throughout the degree.
“Just know that there is a lot of group work, they make it very clear but knowing again, I think for some people there is a lot of group work,” said Erin.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you have to complete ten weeks of placement towards the end of your degree! “You have to take time off work, things like that — be ready for it,” she said.
It’s also worth knowing the OT community is a tight-knit bunch so get involved because it will make your uni experience so much more enjoyable! “I wish I’d actually known that the sense of community was so strong so I could do more sooner,” Erin said.
Erin shared that it’s worth being active in class because the lecturers and tutors are watching to see who stands out. “Answer questions and be that active person, they keep tabs on everyone,” she said.
Your lecturers and tutors are also the people who have industry connections and you never know when they might be able to help you out!
What makes this degree different from the ones offered at other universities?
#1: First OT school in Queensland
“It was the first OT school in Queensland — it’s been around, it’s done it all, it’s seen changes and it’s really focussing on always improving every time,” Erin told us.
Now, that’s always good to hear! As Erin has been active within the school, taking on different representative roles, she has seen how they really focus on improving the course so that the students get the best possible experience.
#2: Focus on employability
“I think UQ in particular, has a big emphasis on employability and there’s a lot of resources available,” Erin told us.
“So there’s lots of volunteering experiences at the uni and the school is always going, ‘Hey, there’s this therapy camp, we’re looking for volunteers’, and they send out a big email, or ‘We’re doing this research project, does anyone want to help out, does anyone want to be a participant in it?’” Erin explained.
There’s definitely lots of ways to get involved and create a network! Be sure to join the Occupational Therapy Students Association to make the most of your time at uni — both socially and professionally!
“Even UQ as a whole runs a lot — there’s a summer and winter research program, which if you want to go into research is brilliant,” Erin said.
Check this out to learn more about the summer and winter research programs which take place during the uni holidays. You’ll get to work alongside researchers and university academics on all kinds of different projects depending on your interests!
What inspired you to choose Occupational Therapy at UQ?
Initially Emma actually wanted to study psychology because of her interest in mental health. However, that all changed when her mum, who also studied Occupational Therapy, took her along to one of the open days.
“She dragged me along to the little OT tent and one of the students there was like, ‘I just finished my placement in mental health, had an amazing time, did all these things,’”
“I was listening and I was like, I can do it this way, which is a four year degree versus psychology which is post work experience plus your psych masters,” she added.
Emma told us that she really liked the freedom that came with Occupational Therapy. “I can go anywhere with OT,” she said.
She was relieved that she ended up choosing OT instead of psychology because in the first year, she took a psychology course and realised that it wasn’t for her.
In terms of choosing UQ, it was the closest uni for her but she definitely made the right decision because she told us, “I’m really glad that I ended up here”.
What are the possible career paths?
So, the most obvious career path is working as an Occupational Therapist! However, there are a tonne of other possible jobs within the Allied Health field that you might end up working in.
Here are just a few examples:
- Sports therapist
- Health improvement practitioner
- Psychological wellbeing practitioner
- Rehabilitation consultant
Tanna Nankivell is a Senior Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is currently in Germany completing a year of study for her double degree in Communications (Journalism) and Bachelor of Arts (International Studies). She has had articles published on Central News – the UTS Journalism Lab and wrote a feature piece for Time Out Sydney during her internship. Tanna has a love for travel and the great outdoors, you’ll either find her on the snowfields or in the ocean, teaching aqua aerobics or creating short films.