Congratulations to VCH Occupational Therapist (OT) Holly for receiving the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) Fieldwork Educator Award of Excellence. The purpose of the CAOT Fieldwork Educator Award of Excellence is to acknowledge the contribution of a practice educator who demonstrates exceptional performance in student practice teaching and in student mentoring in the workplace, and who represents a gold standard in inspiring students to passionately pursue professional practice.
Holly was the recipient of the award for her work with University of British Columbia students. We asked Holly a few questions about her health care journey, as well as her recent award.
I work as an occupational therapist at the Robert and Lily Lee Community Health Centre as part of Vancouver Community Home Health for the past four years. Previously, I worked as a float between the six community health centres in Vancouver Home Health for seven years. I have been an occupational therapist for a total of 20 years. Prior to working at VCH, I worked in vocational rehabilitation at WorkSafe, Back in Motion and Royal Columbian Hospital's Employee Health program. I also worked four years of my career locuming in the United Kingdom ranging from inpatients rehab to outpatient mental health to community aids and adaptations.
During my time as a student, I had two wonderful final year fieldwork educators, who continued to mentor me after my placement and inspired me to commit to taking a first student myself. Early on in practice, I felt I needed to provide placements, as I had been provided. At first, I started with the goal “each one teach one", then I set the goal of offering five placements, as I had been provided with five placements. Now my goal is 20 by 2020. I am at 15.5!
Those who know me, know I love taking students! Students help me explicitly reflect on my practice, and keep me up to date with newer OT theory. Through my experience taking on students, I've also noticed an increase in productivity (ie. clients being seen and assessments, and letters being done).
I always love providing references and hearing that my students have landed their first job. I love it when students touch base with me a few months into their careers with their successes and reflections. My most memorable experiences relate around worker safety and working on the Downtown East Side. One time a student was hesitant to enter a very cluttered space and we had a good conversation around how to ensure worker safety, and looking at spaces thinking about referrals several years down the line. Another time a student discovered an unresponsive person on the side of the street and was ready to use the Naloxone kit. I am very impressed with the calibre of students and am happy to know these are now and will be my colleagues.
I would like to thank my rehab team of OTs and PTs at the Robert and Lily Lee Community Health Centre, as well as the wider home health team for their support of me and students. I would encourage other OTs to try taking a student and experience the positive impacts first hand!