Apprentice Occupational Therapist - James

James undertook an apprenticeship to become an Occupational Therapist

I have been working in Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services since January 2020. More specifically, I have been working in the inpatient wards. I initially started in the service as a healthcare support worker with my aim of helping and supporting young people managing mental health crisis. In September 2021, I successfully applied for the post of Occupational Therapy Assistant within the service. I found myself drawn to the role of Occupational Therapy through my experience of seeing and working with the Occupational Therapy team and their person-centred caring approach to managing complex young people with a high need for care. The more that I worked within the role, the more I became both engrossed and fascinated with the discipline and the numerous ways it could positively impact people’s lives.

This led me to apply for the degree apprenticeship at Sheffield Hallam. I was fortunate enough to be supported by my place of work with applying and enrolling on the course. What drew me initially to the apprenticeship was firstly, the opportunity to learn more of the underpinning academic theory behind the discipline. Secondly, it was the chance to do the learning alongside the clinical work. I felt this was an incredible opportunity to combine my academic development and allow that to inform and develop my clinical practice. Finally, it provided me the opportunity to be supported financially in partaking in my academic adventure, something which wasn’t feasible for myself going through the master’s or degree route.

My first year enabled me to learn so much about both the profession and about myself. I was fortunate to meet other people in similar positions from an incredible range of clinical backgrounds, as well as learning from experienced OTs in both university and at placement. I have reflected on how much I have learnt often and how I feel this has had an incredible impact on myself as a professional clinician. I don’t think the impact would have been as profound as going down a more traditional route in comparison to the apprenticeship pathway.