In the second year of my master’s degree at York St John University as a student Occupational Therapist (OT), I was matched with a Role Emerging Placement at Hull University Teaching Hospitals in the Moving and Handling Department.
Your first thoughts probably matched my own; what is a role emerging placement? What on earth is an OT student going to do in a non-patient facing department that will effectively progress their skills and knowledge?
Let me explain… on a simple level, a role emerging placement is where a student attempts to establish a professional role in a non-traditional setting using the same processes they would apply in a traditional setting. In my case, this was as an OT, my experience however, was a bit more complicated, more personal and not as linear.
My placement was very challenging, hard work and at times seemed like I was falling behind my peers in their clinical facing roles. In contrast, it was also innovative and influential, with my experience opening up so many career opportunities for me that I am now considering a completely different path after graduation.
So, what did I do on my role-emerging placement? In a nutshell, over four part-time days and nine full-time weeks, I met with healthcare professionals, including other OTs, physiotherapists, nurses etc. to conduct a piece of research which explored whether the moving and handling needs of people with obesity within the hospital were being met and if not why. This may appear like a more traditional research-based placement but there were two key differences – I decided to conduct the research, it wasn’t a requirement, and I used the research to find a place for OT within the moving and handling department.
Working with my educator I created an online questionnaire, conducted patient interviews and used clinical observations which identified a service provision gap that was preventing people with obesity having their moving and handling needs met.
From these results, I created staff professional resources that have now been adopted by the Trust; these included detailed reference documents for equipment provision for people with obesity and a comprehensive Trust intranet page about caring effectively for patients with obesity.
Subsequently, I have been invited as a guest speaker at an event to raise awareness of role emerging placements and what I achieved during this time. I have also been invited to future learning opportunities through the connections I made during this placement, which has contributed to my continuing professional development.
My career trajectory has widened much more than I could have ever imagined. The nature of the role emerging placement has enabled me to see Occupational Therapy as part of a bigger picture – I can now envisage, not only future research opportunities, but also the ability to identify a range of other services and departments that would benefit from OT input, such as the Moving and Handling Department I was placed in.
As impossible as it may seem, my experience has shown me and others, that a single OT, or even a student in my case, can have a massive impact on the review of current practice; by observing the practices in the moving and handling department, and engaging with staff and patients, I was able to apply professional, evidence based knowledge and skills to actively improve a service, patient pathways and hopefully their experience; this has expanded my career prospects and helped me to forge relationships that are quickly becoming the foundation of my future.
If you are keen to find out more, then join us on the Role Emerging Placement engagement event in July. Details are here.