College of Healthcare Sciences
24 August 2022
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A passionate pursuit
JCU student Kady Delle Baite has always found her happiness in helping others. Now in her fourth year of studying Occupational Therapy, Kady has been able to do just that.
Occupational therapists (OTs) are health professionals that support and assist people whose health makes it difficult for them to do the activities that are meaningful to them, or the actions that ‘occupy’ their everyday lives. They work with people from birth all the way through to end of life with both physical and mental health illnesses and disabilities.
“Occupational therapy covers a wide range of everyday activities. For example, one patient’s goal might be to get back to yoga class while another patient’s goal might be to simply make themselves a cup of coffee,” Kady says. “Everybody’s needs are different, and I want people to be able to live their life to the fullest. I’ve always loved to help people and I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field for as long as I can remember. I was drawn to OT because it is such a diverse career that can take you anywhere.”
OTs can be found working in a wide variety of settings including schools, hospitals, prisons, private clinics, aged care facilities, rehabilitation centres and people’s homes.
“It is such a broad degree with so many career opportunities in so many different fields,” Kady says. “You can work in a rural generalist role or, if you’d prefer, you can specialise in something like burns or lymphedema management. Honestly, you can really make it your own and go wherever you want with it.”
Occupational therapy is also a career that is experiencing significant growth. OTs are being increasingly sought after in a number of fields and the demand is expected to continue to rise.
“Since I’m in my final year of uni, I’m going to be searching for jobs soon and it’s reassuring to know that there is a huge call for OTs at the moment. It’s really growing and expanding as a career, which is very exciting,” Kady says.
New perspectives from practical placements
Although Kady knew early on that she wanted a career providing empathetic and accessible healthcare, she says the variety and volume of her placement experiences at JCU have inspired a sense of certainty about what area of Occupational Therapy she wants to specialise in after graduation.
“I started my degree thinking that I wanted to work with children, but my placement experiences have opened my eyes to all of the different career pathways within OT,” Kady says.
“I’m really glad that JCU provides a lot of placement opportunities and we get to have those hands-on experiences. The majority of the skills that you learn on placement are transferable through any area of practice that you go into.”
Fourth-year Occupational Therapy student Kady Delle Baite
Kady says her most valuable placement was her seven-week block at the Townsville University Hospital Sub-Acute Care Unit (SACU) during her third year.
“I really enjoyed getting to see the same patient’s day in and day out to witness their recovery and help them with their rehab. I’d see someone come in deconditioned, weak and in need of full assistance to complete daily tasks, and within a few weeks I would be watching them make a full meal independently. Seeing them improve and build their own independence was so rewarding,” she says.
“During placement I really enjoyed the work involved in being a rehab therapist. I enjoyed working closely with patients and building a positive client-therapist relationship. It’s what I love the most about OT, and patients are always so appreciative of your help.”
OT in the Outback
Unlike some of her peers who may shy away from clinical settings, Kady looks forward to hopefully working in a hospital after graduation where she can help patients develop or recover their ability to perform daily tasks.
“I’m very driven by helping people through what might be the worst period of their life, or when they’re the most uncomfortable. At the end of the day, no one likes being in a hospital. So, if I can make a positive impact on their day or in their recovery, I know I’m doing my job well,” Kady says.
“Enabling people to perform their meaningful occupations after their injury or illness is where my passion lies.”
Inspired by her seven-week placement at North West Community Rehab (NWCR) in Mount Isa during 2021, Kady is also passionate about rural and remote health care.
“One of my goals is to work rurally and remotely. I want to help people where there are less resources and less access to services. I loved my placement in Mount Isa and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it. While I was there it opened my eyes to how fortunate we are to have such advanced resources and access to healthcare in well-established communities like Townsville,” she says.
“Rural and remote placements are such a unique experience and mine required me to grow and learn both professionally and personally. Living out there with other students for seven weeks resulted in me making lifelong friendships and allowed me to step out of my comfort zone.”