Are you in your first year of practice as an occupational therapist (OT) and looking for an opportunity to make a difference to your profession? Would you love to work with a small group of other OTs on a unique and exciting project? Are you prepared to share your experiences, time and enthusiasm?

Then you’re in the right place, so read on because we’re looking for a small group of OTs in their first year of practice to work with us on an exciting project funded by the Elizabeth Casson Trust, Year One: Thriving Not Surviving. 

What’s the project about?

The first year of work is a pivotal time for every OT. It’s exciting! It’s exhilarating but it can also be an anxious time. We are immediately confronted by a myriad of idiosyncratic challenges that no learning can pre-empt. Our professional skills and confidence are tested. Our primary goal, to improve patient care, can suddenly feel very complex. We are the newest member of the team feeling a little bit at sea. No longer wearing the badge of student but still feeling like we have so much to learn.

We know that the first year of practice can be associated with stress, trying to square the theory we learnt at Uni with the reality of day to day clinical practice. We may be uncertain about where we fit in and still getting used to the idea of being a fully fledge professional.  

It is this knowledge that inspired us to apply to the Elizabeth Casson Trust to develop a resource entitled, Year 1: Thriving Not Surviving. The aim of the project is to develop an online self-coaching resource which will support the wellbeing of first year practitioners which, when completed, will be freely available to download from the Elizabeth Casson website.  

Interested in finding out the detail?

We are looking for up to 8 OTs in their first year of practice to work with us for 6 months from March until September 2020. There are a number of different stages in the project.

  1. A workshop for the working group in Manchester (in March or April) to get to know each other, agree how we are going to work together and what needs to be done by who.
  2. A campaign of engagement with the OT community to inform the content of the resource
  3. A second one day workshop in Manchester in June to bring together what we found out and agree the content and areas of responsibility for its production.
  4. Production of the resource.

We don’t know exactly what will go in it yet because that’s for the group to determine but potential content could include topics such as:

  • Find your own voice and your way of ‘being an OT’
  • Developing and exploring new connections and building your support network
  • Infecting a whole team with enthusiasm and new ways of thinking/working
  • Making your voice heard
  • Responding to imposter syndrome and self-criticism
  • Stepping out with confidence
  • Asking for help without fear of judgement
  • Looking after your own self-care – needing to develop the balance of a different lifestyle.
  • Resource section with hyperlinks to supporting material

5. Presentations to the OT community via regional and national forum and articles.

We have some funding for members of the working group to present the project at relevant study days and workshops and we would also hope to write some articles on the project for publication.

Alongside the 2 workshops we will meet as a group on a monthly basis online via video conference and members of the working group will be able to have regular contact with both Lynne and Rob.

Who is leading the project?

Rob and Lynne have worked on a number of projects together over the last few years producing a number of freely available “Friendly Guides’. But to tell you a little more about us:

Rob Young is an award-winning writer, who has spent the past 20 years writing for the UK’s biggest film and TV companies including the BBC, Channel 4, Sony, Aardman and the National Theatre. He created the first online play for the RSC and Google that trended 4th in the world. As Faculty Associate at NHS Research & Development North West, he helps NHS Leaders to communicate on a wide range of issues from self-harm to obesity, FGM to HIV. Rob was the Inaugural Patron of the first arts festival in England to be run by an NHS Trust (The Love Arts ‘mental health and wellbeing’ Festival in Leeds). He is currently working on a project about ‘children with chronic complex pain issues’ with Professor Bernie Carter of Edge Hill University and the charity Wellchild.

Lynne is an occupational therapist who has been qualified for over 30 years and has worked in the NHS, voluntary sector and academia. She was one of the first OTs in the UK to obtain a PhD and much of her clinical work and research has focused on the self-management of long-term health conditions. She has been Chair of the Editorial Board of BJOT, Chair of RCOT Research and Development Board and a Member of RCOT Council. She has written books for OTs working in Rheumatology, academic papers and also writes a regular blog. She is a qualified personal development coach and now works in independent practice coaching women working in the NHS and academia and has written a number of freely available self-coaching guides.

Interested in working with us?

Above all we are looking for people who are excited by and committed to the project and happy to use social media and your enthusiasm to engage your colleagues in sharing their experiences. Let’s be honest here you will also need to be prepared to put some of your own time into this project it isn’t something that can be done in work time. You will also need to sign up to attending the 2 workshops as they are crucial to the success of the project.

If this is you, please email and ask for an expression of interest form. Closing date: Friday 28 Feb 2020.