Occupational Therapy personal statement

University of Alberta Application
MSc. Occupational Therapy Candidate
Personal Statement
Jenny Duke

“All you have to do is know where you're going. The answers will come to you of their own accord.” - Earl Nightingale. For the longest time I wasn’t sure where I was going. I was beginning the last year of my undergrad and was apprehensive about what do to next. While chatting with a friend about my concerns she suggested occupational therapy and for some reason it immediately sparked my interest. I began a furious search of the role of an occupational therapist and discovered that is where I want to go and by obtaining a Master’s in occupational therapy I will find the answers.
What most intrigues me most about occupational therapy is the multitude of opportunities within the discipline. Occupational therapists have the chance to interact with people of all ages to help them find purpose in their lives and create environments for them to actively participate in society. Previously I was determined to work with children because of the joy that my previous experiences with them have brought me. Coaching figure skating, teaching swimming lessons, and running summer day camps has lead me yearning to continue to work with children. However, my recent experiences with a group of seniors at the Gorge Road Hospital and Burdett House, in combination with an adult development course at the University of Victoria, have changed my perspective of older adults. I have found that age does not matter, it all just depends on your attitude and your ability to form relationships with many different types of people.
Another appealing aspect of occupational therapy is the opportunity to get involved in the community and provide assistance to those trying to overcome a mental or physical obstacle in their life. Our society is fast paced and unwilling to help those that don’t fit into our norms and to be able to aid someone to function on their own, or provide them with the support they require to do so, would be an exciting challenge for me. While running summer day camps I was approached by a parent of an Autistic boy who had seen the ad for FunSeekers and had wanted to join in on the fun. Naturally the parent was concerned that her son would have a difficult time fitting in with the rest of the children since he could be difficult to handle sometimes. I had never dealt with an Autistic child before but was willing to give him a chance. He certainly was a handful and at times, and made my day very stressful, but I quickly learned his pattern of behaviour and could easily predict when he was approaching a meltdown. Most of the time all I had to do was distract him with another activity or give him a chance to calm down and have a moment to himself. I also found that after this I could more readily see different behavioral patterns in the other children I worked with became adept at maintaining the happiness of the group. Reflecting back I realize I have been a mediator on many ocasions and have enjoyed making sure that everyone can participate despite any disabilities.
According to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, occupational therapy is a profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through occupation. From my understanding you must be able to assess the reasons for difficulty in and individuals, or groups, daily activities and how it affects their well-being. After initial assessment the therapist must then be able to search out an appropriate way to adjust their lifestyle or occupation that will promote their well-being. Difficulties can include both mental and physical illness. Throughout my undergraduate education I have taken courses such as anatomy, physiology, and biology that have expanded my knowledge of the physical body as well as psychology courses in development, neuroscience, and abnormal psychology, which have educated me on the mental body. I believe that because of this extensive background knowledge from many aspects of the body, along with my personal experiences with people of all ages, I would be extremely capable of providing a creative and adequately suited solution for those requiring assistance.
Recently I have taken up running and it has taught me the fine art of dedication. During the beginning of my post-secondary education I felt that if I could pass a course without studying what was the point in wasting my time studying just in order to get a better grade? I applied this same theory to running and signed up for the Royal Victoria Half Marathon. I figure that as long as I went on a couple longer runs right before the marathon I would be fine. I was wrong and definitely paid for it after the marathon. I came to the realization that it is called a marathon for a reason and it requires lots of training. Sure I ran the half marathon but it was extremely challenging and at the finish line I was left feeling dissappointed with myself because I knew I could do better. From that day on I have been running every week in order to build my stamina in order to redeem myself in the Red Deer Marathon in May 2010. From this I also realized that I wasn’t applying whole self to my education either and was disappointed. That passing a course isn’t what matters or the grade that you get but rather the knowledge you gain. Similar to how running a marathon isn’t about crossing the finish line but rather proving how dedicated you are to your passion and willing to push yourself as far, and as fast, as you can.
The combination of my newly found determination, the need for a challenge, a desire to learn, problem solving abilities, and past experiences are applicable to what I believe is the role of an occupational therapist. I hope to be the person that can rearrange someone life back to normal when their world has flipped upside down.


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This personal statement was written by jennymd for application in 2010.

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jennymd's Comments
Rough draft. Need to work on conclusion etc. but want a general idea of how it sounds.

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Comment by guest at 02/11/2010 09:25:10

Hi, I after reading your personal statement, I think it is a bit long winded. It's almost 1000 words, not sure what the limit is for the schools you are applying to, but it is 2 pages for me, so somewhere between 500-700 words. Loved how you started with a quote, I plan on doing the same thing. The first half of the essay was really good as you talked about what motivated you. I think you should stick to that trend and elaborate, rather than talk about what other sources describe what OT is. I've been in constant contact with the OT Dept at USC and they want to know about your specific experience and motivation for you wanting to become an OT. The running story could be more concise and it sorta went off on a tangent, try to keep things in perspective. You used a quote, so most of the essay should somehow tie back into it. I'm no expert as I am working on my PS currently.

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Comment by guest at 06/05/2011 15:35:28

no need to define an OT's role. they already know. make it shorter.

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Comment by guest at 31/08/2011 13:33:58

yes, they already know what an OT does, but they want to know that you fully understand the vocation. so definingf it is not necessarily a bad thing.

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