Meet our wonderful OT Gabi!
In 2023, she completed her new grad program with us, and we asked for her account of our program.
1 – How would you describe the purpose of our new grad program?
The graduate program afforded me a well-supported pathway from university to a full-time job.
This position offered extensive support and guidance during the initial phases and also facilitated the prospect of continuous learning as I transitioned into my role. This gradual shift allowed for increased independence in engaging with clients.
2 – What is the structure and duration of the program?
Initially, we had 3 weeks of shadowing other therapists which was extremely valuable. Over this period I was able to gain an understanding of the processes, the client caseload, type of assessments and observe sessions between different therapists and clients. This was extremely beneficial as it allowed me to explore techniques that I would later adopt in my assessments and treatments.
As you progress, you move on to assisting in compiling session reports. You might start by observing one therapist asking questions, then crafting the corresponding report.
Following this, you gradually begin to establish your own case load. It’s worth noting that during the first session with your clients, there’s a supportive presence alongside you. This gradual process of building up your own client base over an eight-week period ensures a manageable and non-overwhelming start.
3 – How does the program support new graduates in transitioning from theory to practical application in a clinical setting?
The program offers support for new graduates as they transition from theoretical knowledge to practical application within a community setting.
There’s an extensive range of reading materials to delve into, along with a wealth of available resources. Moreover, there’s a supportive community of experienced Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists to approach with any questions or inquiries. There is also a learning and support manager who checks in weekly and does 1:1 sessions to set you up for success. These sessions are there to allow you to ensure you understand the processes, help you with your scheduling and also help you with writing your first report.
Specifically, the Total Health Physio intranet serves as a hub for onboarding materials and professional development resources, providing comprehensive information. Additionally, a Google Drive repository houses various processes, sample reports, letters, and similar documents that can be studied before embarking on the task of composing our own.
This collective pool of resources facilitates a smoother transition by allowing us to familiarise ourselves with established procedures and examples, ultimately aiding in the successful integration of theoretical understanding into clinical practice.
4 – Are there opportunities for rotations in different specialties or areas of Occupational Therapy during the program?
The program provides chances to explore different specialties and clinical aspects through shadowing. I had the privilege to observe various therapists, and witness a wide range of client interactions. This included seeing how therapists handle different types of assessments, mobility trials, and therapy sessions.
Additionally, the program offers frequent supervision sessions with a senior who can provide clinical guidance. I can discuss client progress, share challenges, and seek advice for the best steps forward. These sessions have been incredibly helpful in navigating complex client situations.
Overall, these rotations and supervision sessions have deepened my appreciation for the vastness of clinical practice. They’ve provided me with tools and perspectives to address challenges compassionately and effectively.
5 – How does the program help new graduates develop their clinical reasoning and decision-making skills?
During the program, there were encounters where it was difficult to know the best solution for the client, such as the prescription of complex home modifications or equipment.
These situations prompted me to consider how to address the case and with the support of THP, find the appropriate path forward.
Navigating these instances involved carefully selecting the most appropriate clinical reasoning and then composing the necessary letter or report. Over time, I noticed a steady improvement in my ability to apply clinical reasoning effectively, which was reflected in the quality of the reports I produced.
6 – What resources and support are provided to new graduates for professional development and continuing education?
The program provides consistent support for professional development and ongoing learning. We have scheduled supervision sessions every two weeks, which offer a structured way to receive guidance and assistance.
We can easily reach out to the team leader or other senior occupational therapists whenever we have questions or concerns. Despite working remotely we are always connected via slack and the team is always willing to assist with any queries we have and provide suggestions and advice.
We also have access to an external OT consultant with over 20 years experience to provide 1:1 sessions to help develop our therapy skills. I have found this extremely beneficial in improving my service delivery and helping my clients achieve their goals.
Furthermore, there’s a weekly OT team meeting that takes place every Thursday in the office. This regular meeting provides internal professional development usually presented by one of the therapists and alternated with discussion groups whereby we discuss different clinical scenarios of some of our complex clients. The weekly office days provide us with an opportunity to connect with our colleagues and discuss clients, cases and any other interesting technology we have come across. It’s a valuable forum for exchanging insights.
Lastly, when it comes to report writing, there’s a review process in place. Senior OTs or experienced therapists review and provide feedback on the reports. This practice has significantly improved my report-writing skills over time.
7 – How is the work-life balance of the program?
During the initial six months, there’s a transitional phase as you settle into your role.
The culture here is truly wonderful and supportive. Everyone is eager to help, whether it’s answering questions or providing assistance.
The atmosphere is friendly and balanced, promoting a healthy work-life equilibrium. For instance, there’s a strong emphasis on taking lunch breaks, and after 5 PM, there’s no expectation to handle work-related matters. The program also encourages taking time off, within the constraints of available annual leave.
This emphasis on work-life balance is evident in the supervisory process, where questions about it are included, indicating its importance.
8 – What do you want others to know about your experience with Total Health Physio’s new grad program?
One aspect I really appreciated was the company size, which allowed for easier and more frequent communication within my team. I find it preferable to work in an environment where I regularly interact with my colleagues.
Additionally, this office in South-East Melbourne is awesome!
Oh, and I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a lot of continuous professional development. There’s a range of CPD options available on THP’s intranet. Alongside that, I was given access to another platform with even more PD opportunities. Subscribing to OT Australia’s emails also brings in additional options.
Plus, there’s an allowance provided for these activities.