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Ben Kirkwood talks about his journey through his preceptorship and becoming an Occupational Therapist at Broadmoor Hospital.

After finishing my A—levels I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career, but felt drawn to nursing.  So I spent some time attending open days, volunteering and shadowing nurses.  I realised that although nursing wasn’t for me, I wanted to work in healthcare. 

My mum’s a Speech and Language Therapist and she thought I might be interested in Occupational Therapy as an alternative to nursing.  She got me in touch with someone I could shadow and find out more.  I found out that occupational therapy helps people maintain and increase their activities of daily living which is meaningful to the individual to maintain their independence.  This can include trying to keep a personal management routine; change of bedding and tidying rooms; and cooking sessions which helps assess tool-handling skills. 

Around the same time, my grandfather had a fall and when he returned home.  I saw all the adaptations and changes made for him, so I saw first-hand the two sides to Occupational Therapy, the physical side, that supported my grandfather and the therapeutic side.  I found myself leaning towards the therapeutic side. 

So I went to study at Coventry University to become an Occupational Therapist. 

In my second year at University, I had a placement at a low secure unit in Oxford and found that I had real interest in forensic and secure settings.  Also having grown up in Crowthorne, I had a local interest in Broadmoor Hospital. So when an opening for an Occupational Therapist came up at Broadmoor, I applied and was really pleased to have been successful. 

As a newly qualified Occupational Therapist, I had to complete a year-long preceptorship.  The preceptorship supported my development and transition from student to professional.

The preceptorship included completing competencies around written communications, knowledge of local policies, understanding clients and groups and working with colleagues and other agencies.  The preceptorship used reflective practice, so being able to reflect on my work, what I’d learnt and what I could’ve done differently. 

The preceptorship was very different for me as three months in, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and I was redeployed to support wards.  I had to adapt my experiences within my redeployment to be able to reflect on my learning in relation to my Occupational Therapist role.  I found that support from my preceptor and peers were key during the pandemic. I was able to talk to them and bounce ideas and concerns in a safe space. 

Being an Occupational Therapist is a really rewarding role and would definitely recommend it.  Seeing a difference in the patients when taking them off ward and into new environment is amazing to see.  For some of the patients it might only be a small change, but for others you can see them really grow and you can see how much we are helping them in their recovery.