Interview with MSc Occupational Therapy student, Graham Samson
Graham Samson, 31, from Kilmarnock, is currently studying MSc Occupational Therapy (Post-registration) at QMU.
From an early age, Graham remembers his family extolling the importance of healthcare, and in particular, the value of the National Health Service. As a consequence, he had always wanted to work in healthcare in some capacity, but hadn’t quite pinpointed any specific profession.
After working in a range of unrelated jobs, he finally enrolled on an HNC course in Care and Administrative Practice at Kilmarnock College, with a view to investigating different professions. In the process, Graham discovered Occupational Therapy for the first time. He was immediately inspired by the ethos of the profession, and in particular, its capacity to contribute to social justice. From there, he was fortunate enough to gain a place in the BSc Occupational Therapy course at Glasgow Caledonian University, from which he recently qualified.
How did you come to choose to study MSc Occupational Therapy (Post-registration)?
“I’ve always been a naturally inquisitive person with a passion for learning, and found that this was heightened as an undergraduate student. Subsequently, I developed a desire to learn more about my profession.
“Perhaps more importantly, I wanted to further develop the skills for life-long learning which can translate to any new setting. Masters level study promotes depth of learning, learning to deal with complexity and abstraction, and adapting to unpredictability. My hope is that these skills will allow me to develop as a specialist as my career progresses, and in turn, contribute to the empowerment and wellbeing of patients.”
Why did you choose to study at QMU?
“The MSc Occupational Therapy (Post-registration) course at QMU provided opportunities to meet the aims I just mentioned, and I had spoken with former students who thought very highly of the University. Before enrolling, I spoke with members of the faculty to get a feel for the content of the course, and was very impressed by their professionalism.
“Also important to me was the flexibility of the course. I live on the opposite coast from Edinburgh, and moving home wasn’t really an option, so it was really important that I could do most of my study at a distance. Whilst this isn’t a distance learning course, staff members have been exceptionally understanding, and attempted to minimise my travel via the use of technology, and selection of appropriate modules where possible.
“The course is also very flexible in terms of assignment content, with modules encouraging students to identify their own interests for study. This helps keep learning relevant and motivating.”
How do you think the course will help your personal development?
“I feel as though my critical thinking skills developed early in the course, and in particular, I noticed that I began to develop my ‘own voice’. For example, I feel more able to produce my own thoughts on contested issues, and to justify my particular stance. That’s quite an empowering development, not only for clinical reasoning, but on a personal and social level.
“Enhancing my knowledge of evidence-based and occupation-focused practice is likely to translate into more incisive clinical reasoning in my role as a therapist, whilst also opening up potential roles in research.
“I’m also particularly excited by the work-based learning module, in which I’ve been encouraged to identify my own learning needs, and to take systematic steps to meeting them. For me, this has meant identifying a real-world service need, examining the evidence surrounding it, and designing and evaluating a service development to meet that need.
“At present, I’m looking at the possibility of designing an evidence-based educational package for staff and parents of children with developmental disabilities. As evidence-based practice and continuing service development is at the forefront of today’s care, I believe these are invaluable skills to develop when contributing to the patient experience on multiple levels.”
What top tips would you give prospective postgraduate students based on your own personal experience?
“Learning is a very social phenomenon, and I think it’s important to build a sense of camaraderie with your fellow students for that reason. Other students bring unique experiences and perspectives which can help you think about your work in different ways. For that reason, I also encourage students to engage in class discussions. For me, at least, this helps clarify my own thinking.”
What are your plans after graduation?
“One of the benefits of the MSc Occupational Therapy (Post-registration) is that it opens up new career avenues that I’d previously never considered, including further research and teaching, so I’m not closing off my options just yet. Having said that, I love to work with patients, and can see myself working towards becoming an advanced practitioner in the long-term.”
MSc Advancing Practice in Occupational Therapy (Post-Registration)
Notes to Editor
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