Occupational therapy student shares story of South Africa placement

Posted on Monday, April 14 2014

An Occupational Therapy student has shared details of her work placement in South Africa.

Third year student Joan Kerr completed the eight week work placement in Hoedspruit, South Africa.

Joan obtained the role through the connections of one of her placement supervisors when choosing her self-selected placement, as developing her skills overseas had always been an ambition.

The position at a private practice involved shadowing for the first week until being assigned a caseload herself – this being the assessment, evaluation and treatment of two children who were referred for treatment from a local school.

All clients referred to the practice are between three and eight years old and can have a variety of concerns which need to be addressed.

With limited resources and time available, not to mention language barriers, keeping sessions fun and stimulating for the children was a challenge but something Joan embraced and encouraged further development of her skills while providing an excellent quality of care.

Joan said: “This placement really opened my eyes to the cultural differences that can be faced when working as an OT, such as the impact of poverty and wealth on treatment and how a language barrier can affect treatment.

“I learnt a lot and improved many of my existing skills such as communication, personal and people development and service improvement.”

She continues “I am very grateful to all involved for enabling me to have this opportunity, and I would definitely recommend taking up a placement abroad if the opportunity arises”.

Her full first-hand account of the placement is available via The World Federation of Occupational Therapists website and details the challenges and benefits of such a placement overseas.