To clarify, I’m not talking about romance, although I guess it is possible to fall in love with your job. My life as an OT so far has been two six month rotations on medicals and neuro, and I have now entered my third rotation: Burns Therapy.

I felt like I knew where I wanted to end up when I was mid-training, it was very easy back then to imagine getting that dream job and specialising. However, I found getting out into the real world of working you spend so much time learning and doing as a new Band 5, that taking time to consider what to specialise in, when to specialise is hard.

I would ask myself questions like, “what if I choose wrong and I’m stuck in a speciality I dislike?”, “what if I never get to try it and realise it’s actually the one I want to specialise in?”, and even “when am I meant to decide and start to specialise?”. Mind-boggling…and there is no right or wrong answer.

I chose an OT rotation to give myself a chance to explore different areas, however it can sometimes be difficult on six month rotations to get into the nitty-gritty of each speciality – it really is a taster of each. So, now I’m here contemplating, at what point am I meant to specialise? What if I choose wrong? How do I know what is the right one? Panic!

Not realising until it was pointed out to me, I am happy and settled in this new rotation. Other OT’s pointed out they could hear the excitement in my voice when I spoke about my role in the burn’s unit. I sat and thought about this and realised that I want to go home and talk about my day. I realised that I don’t get that Sunday dread as Monday rears it’s not so pretty head, and between the hours of 8am and 4pm, time really does fly when I’m having fun.

So why? What have I found in this rotation I haven’t in others? Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist, posed the concept of “flow” which rings true with me here. Flow or that experience of “time flying by” comes from when the occupation you’re engaging in challenges you enough to match your skill level. Too little challenge can be almost boring, whereas too much of a challenge – where you feel your skills don’t match – can provoke anxiety.

The burns rotation is giving me the opportunity to work with adults and children, both inpatient and outpatient, in an OT role that I have never experienced before. I feel challenged but that only motivates me to learn more – and I am given the time to do that learning, maybe that is the difference to my previous rotation experiences. I feel confident, creative, happy and settled, enough so, that I plucked up the courage to ask for a double rotation. This will give me the opportunity to really get into the nitty-gritty of burns therapy, and who knows, maybe this is the place for me.
It is completely subjective, how we each experience different specialities. Some may enjoy the challenge a variety of medical conditions presents them with.  Some may prefer to develop their role in a niche area like hand therapy, or a specialist area like paediatrics. Regardless of the area or speciality, it’s the meaning the role gives you. Maybe, if you have a moment now, have a think about where, as an OT, you have felt that “flow”. 

Written by Stephanie Exley

Photo by Jiroe on Unsplash

This project is funded by the Elizabeth Casson Trust. If you’d like to learn more about the project you can do so via this link and the team behind it here

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