Ashley Tate – BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy graduate

Current employer: NHS

Current job title: Occupational Therapist

Current location: Torbay

“The academic staff at Plymouth are so supportive and I thoroughly believe that they have helped me to get to where I am now. The course really provides opportunities to discover which areas you might want to work in.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

During my degree I managed to secure a position as a Band 5 Occupational Therapist (OT) on a trauma and orthopaedic ward, and I have been working there since graduating this summer. The position is part of a rotational scheme offered to newly graduated OTs, giving them a breadth of experience to help them find their niche area given the vast career opportunities available to those in the profession.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Despite only being in my career for a few months, I have been faced with numerous challenges. However, I feel the most difficult aspect of being qualified is the increase in responsibility as I am now considered the expert in my field. Other professionals look to me on a daily basis to make decisions which have significant implications to patients’ health and well-being.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Undoubtedly the best aspect of my career is the ability to give people their independence back. Often, I see frail and elderly patients that have had accidents resulting in various fractures, and as a result they lose their independence in everyday activities, such as washing and dressing: something we all take for granted. Being able to help my patients reclaim their independence and get them back home really makes my job worthwhile.

Imagine you were about to start university again – with the benefit of hindsight – what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

Well, first of all I would have to tell myself to start assignments earlier. That would have definitely saved a lot of painstaking overnight library sessions. But I also feel that is part of the university experience. Other than that, I would have to say getting a better university/life balance. I really want to complete my masters in Occupational Therapy in the near future, and so needed to get a 2:1 as a minimum. At times it was too easy to get consumed in my coursework and maintaining two jobs, and forget to enjoy the experience.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

I would definitely recommend Occupational Therapy to anyone who enjoys working with people; it is so rewarding. The only advice I would give is, if possible, to spend time with an OT and really get to see how they use activities to improve people’s health and wellbeing.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

The academic staff at Plymouth are so supportive and I thoroughly believe that they have helped me to get to where I am now. The course really provides opportunities to discover which areas you might want to work in, with modules in volunteering and shadowing. Plymouth also has an OT society which provides support and opportunities to its members.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

Placement is an essential part of the course. Every year you are expected to complete a placement within a different area of the profession, and it really helps solidify the theory learned in the classroom. My placements included complex care and dementia, adult social care and stroke rehabilitation. For me, it helped me discover a passion for stroke rehab in the community, and it is something that I am aiming for in my career.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

I have so many good memories from studying at Plymouth, including lip-sync battles, summer balls, late night library sessions, but most of all the amazing people I have met along the way.

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

Yes, I see a number of alumni regularly and still have contact with some lecturers. In fact, I recently spoke with one of my lecturers with regards to starting the process of getting my research project published in a peer reviewed journal.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Based upon my experience, I would definitely recommend undertaking a course. I truly enjoyed studying at Plymouth University; it has a lot to offer, as does the city. I loved how diverse the area is; the city centre, sea front, and national trust areas all within a short drive of each other.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying Occupational Therapy, please visit our BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Health Professions, please visit the school page

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