I always wanted to ‘make a difference’ rather than merely make a living and I considered several healthcare careers to enable me to achieve my goal. I have opted to seek a career in Occupational Therapy for several reasons. I want to work in a field in which long-term relationships with patients are the norm, witnessing and sharing the joy of progress being made with my client and their family.
I am aware that OT is a vital and increasingly necessary practice, especially for our ‘aging population’. While a child in Vietnam, I watched my grandmother, gradually decline from Leukemia, and become increasingly distressed as her mobility decreased. I learned later, as an adult, that specialist intervention could have helped her and decided that I should like to help other people’s grandparents to relearn or retain their mobility and to maintain their ‘joie de vivre’ for as long as possible. I come from a culture in which the aged are treated with special respect and care for their experience and knowledge.
This application is being made after substantial research. I have read extensively about the profession, volunteered at an OT Hand Clinic during the summer and interned as an assistant to several Occupational Therapists at United Cerebral Palsy. Working with caring and skilled professionals has been an inspiring experience and confirmed my choice of career path in OT. While shadowing at UCP, I had the opportunity to assist Jennifer, an Occupational Therapist, in weekly sessions with a boy of 3 years diagnosed with Batten Disease, a fatal neurodegenerative condition.
The goal was to help him maintain functional skills to prolong his active life and permit him to enjoy the time left to the maximum. The Therapist sought to delay the loss of hand and finger dexterity, caused by the disease. Despite a fatal prognosis and a gradual loss of the ability to do such basic things as feed himself, Jennifer continued to motivate him. A major milestone was enabling him to play with his favorite toy, Playdoh, and to integrate this into his therapy sessions to maintain a degree of strength.
My bachelor's degree is in Psychology and Social Behavior. I have experience working with children as an ‘Inclusion Facilitator’, helping children with special needs to improve their behaviors and as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist helping children on the Autism spectrum. I have also undertaken voluntary work with Special Needs children as a Behavioral Therapist at an OT based ‘karate clinic’. Taken together with my specific exposure to the work of OT’s, I regard my professional and volunteer background as providing an excellent basis for future OT training.
I have assisted in research projects and have thoroughly enjoyed this exposure. I see the characteristics of an excellent Occupational Therapist as overlapping with those of a good researcher. Both need to be able to plan and set realistic but challenging goals, to be flexible in reaching those goals, to be determined, positive and single minded, to co-operate happily with others to achieve common goals and to have the ability to think analytically, creatively, and originally when dealing with a problem. I know that each patient is unique and that the problems of each call for a ‘tailor-made’ approach in consultation with the patient and professionals from other specialties where necessary.
I have happily worked, studied, and socialized with people of many cultural and social backgrounds. I understand that cultural awareness and sensitivity is vital in healthcare provision and especially in a field in which positive long-term relationships need to be created and maintained to maximize effectiveness. As an immigrant myself, I am aware of the challenges involved in adapting to a new cultural environment. I have had the opportunity to study in Spain for several months, I am fascinated by cultural contrasts and enjoy exposure to other cultures and sharing knowledge of my own rich heritage. I speak English, Vietnamese, and Spanish.
I am aware that there is a shortage of trained therapists, and that this shortage is felt most keenly in deprived communities. It is my hope to work in such a community and to spread knowledge about the value of OT to those who might be unaware of its great value and especially among the many formerly fit but aging members of the population who may wish to prolong their active life but be unaware of how this might be achieved.
To summarize: I have a bachelor degree in subjects that are highly relevant to the specialty; I have significant voluntary and professional experience in relating to patients on a one to one basis; I am familiar with the work of therapists from my shadowing and volunteer experience; I believe that I possess the personal characteristics and academic potential that will enable me to become an excellent therapist. However, my main recommendation is a genuine passion to acquire the high-level skills and knowledge that will enable me to achieve my goal of helping others to achieve and maintain an active and happy life.
OT Master’s, Occupational Therapy Personal Statement