Category Archives: Marketing

New Years Greetings

I am having a new year tidy up before life gets busy again. I am not going to say I have a new years resolution to post more as that is most often the best way to ensure it doesn’t happen! So I am going to apply some occupational therapy wisdom (not sure occupational therapy can own it, but we do use it a lot with clients) ‘”start with small steps and you will be surprised at the opportunities and possibilities that unfold”.

Todays small step is to tell you that we are about to do some work upgrading the website  Please go and look at it and give us your thoughts on what is useful and what could be developed further, or things that you think should be there that aren’t etc. There is a feedback tab on the site.

Happy New Year, may 2013 through your actions be one to remember positively.


Employment of occupational therapists in New Zealand

This year in New Zealand it has been significantly more difficult for new graduate ocupational therapists to find work. This appears to have been for a number of reasons:

  1. The first most obvious – the world wide recession, times are tighter workplaces worldwide  are more cautious. We have noticed a significant reduction in occupational therapists heading off for their big OE (for those non New Zealanders OE = Overseas Experience) with occupational therapy work being difficult to obtain in places such as the UK .
  2. District Health Boards in New Zealand are feeling the pinch
  3. Changes in ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) have meant that many occupational therapy agencies/companies have lost contracts or had reduced work . Those staff affected have appeared to move back into district health board employment, changing the usual balance in these workplaces of internal promotion versus external appointments and thus not freeing up the positions traditionally taken by new graduates.

This has meant that there are still a number of new graduates seeking work but not yet in work. On a positive note there does seem in recent weeks to have been an increase in new grads being offered work. It is interesting to note that on (internet job search web site) there are currently 30-40 occupational therapy jobs advertised thoughout NZ. All of these are not new graduate positions, however one would hope that the stepping up of others into these positions will free new graduate positions.

What to do meanwhile – my advice (for what it is worth!)

  • Keep your focus don’t give up
  • prepare prepare prepare – do your homework for each position you wish to apply for. Find out as much as you can about the job, the organisation and the people in it. Use the internet, people you know, ring and ask questions about the post (work out carefully what you wish to ask before you call ) and then use the information you gain in your application letter and to help you prepare for the interview
  • Write your letter specifically for the job you are applying for (don’t use a generic one).
  • Make sure your CV is up to date. Put on your CV any part time work you are doing at the moment and any volunteer work you might be doing
  • Consider volunteering – volunteer work can be a useful stepping stone into work, it can mean that you are gaining skills by working in an area related one you wish to gain emplyment in.
  • Make sure you gain feedback from previous interviews. What did they see as your strengths, ask them about how you presented at the interview, how well you answered the questions, did your knowledge and understanding come though, was there an are you were weak in.
  • Build up your networks, be seen in occupational therapy circles
  • Practice interviews, have someone give feedback on your CV, letters etc
  • Keep your referees up to date witht he jobs you are being interviewed for – as their reaction when telephoned for a reference check can help
  • Stay cool, some of getting work is being in the right place at the right time

If you are a new grad from Otago Polytechnic and still looking for work and wanting suport or help please call.


Calling occupational therapists – What’s OT?

OT , BT3.


How would you feel if I told you you would be doing all of these next week? Would you feel anxious?, wonder what you should wear?, whether you should eat before you did them?

Well I guess there is about 100 people in the world who will understand all that I have just written, and at least 260,000 who will understand the first OT. From memory that is, the number of occupational therapists in the world, according to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists recent stock take on occupational therapy.  Given that we ponder/discuss and constantly work on how to get our profession better recognised by others why do we persist in saying and writing OT?

I remember as a student, another student telling the story of an elderly client who had wanted something and had been told to talk to the OT. She was heard asking around the ward for the Old Tea Lady (true!!!!)

Today I got a call from my extended family, as per my last post I currently have a family member in hospital and he has now moved to rehabilitation, and fantastically they have put a list on the wall of his rehabilitation team. Today the question from the family was what does SW stand for, what about SLT and PT and is OT occupational therapy ? I know that one day they will know what all of these stand for but wouldn’t it be nice if they knew from the word go. For those that don’t know SW is social worker, SLT is speech language therapist, PT is physiotherapist and yes OT is occupational therapy.

We have a beautiful name, that describes our core beleif why don’t we use it? I know we have to explain occupation to others but we are half way there if people start with knowing the name of our profession. So lets stop the jargon and abbreviations as one of the most proactive steps we can take to having people know and understand our profession.

Occupational Therapy Tag lines

I was interested to see a piece on the launch of a new tag line for occupational therapy coming out of the US

“Occupational Therapy. Living Life to Its Fullest.”

It set me to trying to remember other tag lines occupational therapy has had and I wondered whether it would show changes to how we were describing the profession. However I have decided my memory isn’t as good as I thought or maybe there haven’t been that many?

Late 1990’s to mid 2000’s “Occupational Therapy. Skills for the Job of Living.” or sometimes shortened to “Occupational therapy skills for living” this one seemed to be used by occupational therapists worldwide.

In the mid 2000’s The New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists had for a short time the tag line

“Occupational therapy – live the life you want”

and way back in the1980’s? there was one I am struggling to bring to mind. Was it

“Occupational therapy a vital link to productive living” ????? (not to sure that I have this one correct).

Maybe there is someone out there who can add to the list?

November …prospective occupational therapy students, marketing and reflecting

Merrolee and I spent a bit of time comparing cluster maps to see where the readers of our blogs were coming from and the interesting answer is everywhere. That wee interlude did wonders for the gaining the energy to write a quick post.

Here in NZ we are at that stage where our 3rd year students are in their last week of their final fieldwork placement and all being well in January they will be therapists!!!. Our 1st and 2nd year students have handed in all their assignments, and academic staff are knee deep in marking.

It is also an exciting time as we process all the applications of students for next year (our course starts February), it always amazes me the different types of people who are attracted to occupational therapy and the wide range of skills they bring with them into the programme, it guarantees a vibrant group of students.

We had some careers advisors visit earlier in the week and it was great to see their enthusiasum for our profession. One of them said that her father had received occupational therapy and ‘loved’ the occupational therapists for what they were able to do with and for him. Interestingly she saw that we must have an incredibly rewarding profession seeing the effect we can have on others lives. So that was one of the highlights of the week.

It is also a time of year when we reflect on what we have done well and what needs to improve and so there is a frantic round of changes happening to improve our teaching materials and assignments for next year. I sometimes wonder whether students realise just how much we use their feedback to help in this process. It is interesting the changes that the availability of information on the internet and within databases is making to how we learn, how we teach, and how up to date we have to be with our content. I remember back to when I trained 25 years ago dare I confess that I hardly went to the library we tended to just use the recommended texts (and it was probably 10 years old)! – mind there wasn’t a lot more on occupational therapy in the library. I remember a paper called Medicine and Surgery where all we did was go through a book of conditions rote learning them for an exam – I am not sure my knowledge on leprosy has ever come in useful but I guess there is still time!

In today’s world of the occupational therapy student there is however a tension – between wanting to be told the information/answer/solution and gaining the skills to get out and find and interpret the information for ourselves. We all know which one gives us better skills to be a life long learners, however time dictates a need to get a balance between the two.

Well that’s the top on mind stuff of the moment.


Why be an occupational therapist?

This is my (and hopefully your) contribution to Occupational Therapy Awareness Week which is coming up soon in New Zealand.

My challenge is to all the occupational therapists, and occupational therapy students who drop in and read this site – please very briefly describe your job/training and the thing that you like best about it, or add a brief story or tale. My blog statistics (I know I am obsessed by them!) tell me that there lots of people out there wanting to know more about occupational therapy. Given that we know it is difficult to describe the breath of possibilities for occupational therapists if 20 or 30 or more people posted it would be really interesting to see what we could show about the diversity of occupational therapy

I am an educator now but as a clinician I worked of 20 years as an occupational therapist who worked with children and their families I loved the diversity as each day was always so different no two children or their families were the same. The two jobs I loved most were working in a child development centre in New Zealand home visiting children who who had a disability or whose development was delayed and working in a Bobath Centre in Britain working with children who had cerebral palsy.

In every setting I have been lucky to find peers and team members who stimulated and challenged me ensuring that the job was never dull. But mostly I loved having a good excuse to spend the day knee deep in play.

Invisible or visible – 10 days, 10 years forever

Frozen silverbeetA while back I was watching a one of those 10 years younger in 10 days programmes and got hooked because the person being ‘done’ was an occupational therapy student. I was interested to see how they would portray occupational therapy. Sometimes you hear us spoken about as the invisible profession. If we do our job well the person we are working with sees themselves as having achieved their goal and feels they got there through their own efforts. So how do we make what we do visible.

As per the usual pattern of TV programmes they gave a 10-15 sound bite to something about occupational therapy. They chose to show occupational therapy students seeing what it is like to make a sandwich one handed.

I have for a while believed that we can’t wait for perfect examples we need to get into the public consciousness. I also believe that we sometimes get stuck on thinking we need to portray the whole range and depth of occupational therapy practice in everything that goes out as publicity. So what would I do in 10-15 seconds…….in no particular order……..

first the easy sound/visual bites – these are the ones associated with adaptation

adjusting a wheelchair for an individual

making a splint

working with a client to bring about an environmental modification

teaching someone energy saving techniques

the more difficult sound/visual bites are associated with how to portray the role we have in bringing about a clients engagement or participation

A group of children playing interactively together – but how do you show that the interactivity has been facilitated because of how the occupational therapist set the environment and the selection of the occupation/task/game?

Doing a work site visit….

…….um any other thoughts