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women in careers: dani the occupational therapist

Dani, 25
Occupational Therapist (OT)

There are many ways to make a living from being a caring person and Occupational Therapy (OT) is just one of them. Sporting a funky blonde hair style and cute skull cardigan, 25 year old OT, Dani Lees casually tells me about her career choice.

Occupational therapy is a discipline that aims to promote health by enabling people to engage in activities that they find meaningful and give their lives purpose. OTs work with people of all ages, with various health conditions in schools, hospitals, community, aged care and privately. Dani describes her position as working with people to generate ideas for themselves or who are not sure how to go about it, and using creativity to determine a life worth living for people who struggle with limiting disabilities and challenges that leave them isolated from society. OTs strive to treat clients as being people before their illnesses and gaining wellness in their lives.

Dani began her OT journey by receiving “really bad OP for medicine” and so her mum suggested OT. She then proceeded to enrol through the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre and moved to Townsville to study a 4 year degree in Occupational Therapy at James Cook University. Dani says this course had interesting individual subjects but because it’s so broad it took the length of the degree to make sense of the occupational therapy philosophy in a working context.Those interested in other occupational therapy curriculums can find accredited programs through Guide to Career Education’s online degree portal.

Dani loves her job working in community mental health on the Sunshine Coast. Her position involves working with people to become and stay socially connected. Individual clients have differing levels of issues and challenges to work through, however through using an example of one client’s journey, you can gather an idea of Dani’s work. This person had a love for outdoor sports, and Dani supported him in getting involved with such activities. Through the enjoyment and positive feedback he gained from this connection in his community, he developed confidence and started showing an increased interest in work activities. Dani helped to explore these interests further and facilitated a volunteering opportunity for him at a local Church. With ongoing support, he was able to gradually take on more responsibility at the Church and eventually gained paid employment.

As with all professions you’d expect highlights and challenges, and OT is no exception. Dani describes the highlights of her position as working creatively with people on their individual journey, and the overall enchantment of this enabling position. The challenges however, have more to do with funding then the profession itself. There are not enough OT positions to support the number of people who could benefit from occupational therapy services and it is also difficult for people to sustain involvement in therapeutic activities due to transport and financial limitations.

Dani says that stereotypical OTs are organised, practical and creative and to describe her profession in one word, Dani would say ‘lovely’.

Does this sound like you? If this is a career you’d be interested in, don’t think twice about having a chat to someone in the field. For more professional information visit the national Occupational Therapy website at: http://www.otaus.com.au/

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