OT student project leads to place at international student conference

Fri, 28 May 2021 16:19:00 BST
Amy was delighted she got involved, despite some initial nerves
Amy was delighted she got involved, despite some initial nerves

An Occupational Therapy student has had the opportunity to present her Honours Project to an international audience – after being inspired by her time on placement. 

Fourth year student Amy Brennan focused on the unique topic of meaningful occupations for displaced people. The qualitative review analysed research already in place and gave future recommendations for further studies.  

Amy explained how her experience on placement sparked her interest in the subjectwhile also delving into some of her key findings 

She said: “During third year, I was based in a community OT service and there was a male refugee who was looking for some assistance. He was speaking to the occupational therapist about how he was having to volunteer for work in areas that didn’t really professionally interest himHe was trained in dentistry but because he came over here as a displaced person, those skills were almost disregarded. 

It always stuck with me because he seemed really distressed that he didn’t know what his future held. He’d experienced dramatic circumstances before he decided to migrate, which is obviously already a lot of trauma to deal with.” 

Amy added: “Work around displaced persons generally is an under-researched topic and it was something I really wanted to find out more about. 

The conclusion of my work was that altruistic occupations were found to be significantly meaningful and provided purpose and belonging for displaced people.  Creative and cultural jobs were also highly sought after - such as singing, cooking, arts and crafts etc. 

Another finding was that occupational therapists should adopt an asset based approach and empower displaced people to look at their skills and jobs they had before being forced to migrate.  

After completing her qualitative review, she was encouraged by Dr Emma Green to put forward her findings at a virtual student conference in April, ran by OT Europe Interest Group for Displaced Persons. 

Despite some initial apprehension, Amy agreed to take part and enjoyed the whole experience. She explained: “I actually really don’t like public speaking – it’s just one of my fears. It makes me feel uncomfortable but I knew I had to just push myself and do it because it’s crucial experience for the future 

Thankfully, everything went really well. It was interesting because there were students involved from the likes of Amsterdam, Berlin and Greece. They were looking at the same sort of topic as me but with different research and methods used. 

We had a couple of meetings around the structure of the day before the actual conference took place. There was a total of six presentations from students and then two separate workshops designed to facilitate discussion, so it was really cool. 

She added: “I gave a ten-minute pre-recorded overview of my project, along with the findings and future recommendations for OT practice and further research. I couldn’t actually present live because I was on placement at the time but I did get to join in later on 

It was an honor to be representing GCU but I don’t think they would have understood what I was saying!  

In all seriousness though, everyone was really lovely. I got quite a lot of emails asking to see my project, so it was really nice to get that positive feedback. 


By Ross Clark 
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