OTs get International Experience

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Occupational Therapy students Nikki and Morgan with clients from the Sunrise Adult Training Centre who are showing off their circles.  A group program called ‘Circles’ was designed by the students to teach clients about personal boundaries. The group focused on different kinds of relationships and how to act with each group, including family, friends, teachers, and strangers, each belonging in a different ‘circle’ to promote appropriate behaviours when interacting with others. The group also reinforced the idea of personal space and taught self-advocacy for privacy.

"Travelling to the Cayman Islands for a student fieldwork placement has been an incredible opportunity..."

Morgan Hall - Occupational Therapist student from Dalhousie University, Canada

Published 27th February 2014, 2:31pm

Two Occupational Therapy (OT) students from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, have been gaining their fieldwork experience right here in Cayman at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre (SRC).

Morgan Hall and Nikki Ross are training at Sunrise for 8 weeks. Their training commenced on January 7th and will finish on March 1st.

Canadian OT students are required to complete 1027.5 hours of clinical fieldwork experience prior to their graduation. Fieldwork placement aims to cover different OT populations, worksites and varied service delivery models in order to enable such students to become well-rounded practitioners. International Fieldwork is reserved for students who maintain high academic performance and show excellent professionalism and initiative.        

Philip Knowles, the OT Therapist at Sunrise is the Fieldwork Preceptor with responsibility for supervising the students while they complete client assessments, develop programme activities for the OT Room, and run a Boundaries Group for two client groups. Mr. Knowles commented on the experience saying, “When I initially proposed bringing students to Sunrise, it was my intent that it would be a fantastic professional development opportunity for the students, and at the same time, we at Sunrise would benefit from the participation of these students in the development of our services to our clients. With the consent of the Ministry of Education, I organised and made arrangements with Dalhousie University for Morgan and Nikki to come to Cayman and I could not be happier with their contribution to our Occupational Therapy Department. They have embraced this opportunity with sincerity and enthusiasm and we have been blessed to have such wonderful professional students to work with our young adult Caymanians who face a variety of significantly challenging disabilities.”

Director of Sunrise Shari Smith is delighted with her centre’s partnership with Dalhousie and said, “This is the first time that Sunrise has hosted such a fieldwork partnership, and it is also a first for our Ministry in the area of OT. I am very grateful to Philip for all the time and work gone into putting this opportunity together. It allies strongly with our goal of increasing the level of professionalism offered through all services provided by SRC, and will assist with our organisational transition from a Recreational Day Programme to a Training and Supported Workshop model.”

Miss Hall and Miss Ross are thoroughly enjoying their time at Sunrise and in Cayman. 

"Travelling to the Cayman Islands for a student fieldwork placement has been an incredible opportunity. I have had time to develop my knowledge and skills with a wonderful staff and group of clients at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre, as well as explore this beautiful country and culture. I would highly recommend this experience to other students", said Miss Hall.

Miss Ross echoed her colleague’s sentiments saying, “My time at the Sunrise Adult Training Centre has been wonderful and all the staff and clients have been so welcoming! I have really enjoyed learning about occupational therapy in an emerging practice setting and having the opportunity to explore the Cayman Islands".

Kimberly Voaden, Programme Manager at Sunrise and an OT herself who trained at a Canadian University explained the importance of fieldwork for an OT. She stated,

 “As a former graduate of a Canadian Occupational Therapy university programme, I know how valuable fieldwork placements are for cementing classroom theory, providing essential hands-on practice with clients of all ages, and improving communication and clinical reasoning skills. Because Occupational Therapy is such a broad profession, fieldwork placements can be definitive in helping an OT student choose the area(s) in which they eventually want to focus their professional practice. I am so very pleased that SRC is able to be a part of these students’ learning and professional development, and am grateful for their diligence and enthusiasm on their placement. They have fit in well with our clients and staff, and their hard work, under Philip’s competent preceptorship, is helping to realize exciting new programme initiatives at SRC.”

The clients at SRC have benefited greatly by having more OTs on hand to assist them. Two of the clients shared their experiences with Miss Hall and Miss Ross. Chalice Smith said, “I love them. They are a nice person; they listen; they are happy; they do a good job.

Harris Egbert said, “Morgan and Nikki are cool. They are nice to talk with and helpful. They are hardworking and focused. Morgan and Nikki are doing a good job. They ask a lot of questions when they meet with me. I don’t really talk about myself much, but they are really trying to get to know be better.”

Miss Hall and Miss Ross are also shadowing other OTs within the Department of Education, specifically at Lighthouse School and in the Early Intervention Programme.

Sunrise intends to continue developing this relationship with Dalhousie University School of Occupational Therapy and hopes to host additional fieldwork placements in the next training year.