Occupational therapists are professionals in demand as Melbourne celebrates the first group of “OT” graduates.
It has been one of the fastest growing professions in the health care industry and is showing no signs of slowing down, with the first group of Australian Catholic University’s Bachelor of Occupational Therapy graduates already making an impact.
Occupational therapists, better known as “OTs”, are in demand. The Department of Employment 2016 Industry Employment Projections to November 2020 predicts a 22 per cent rise in allied health employment, with the Australian Government’s Job Outlook website expecting the occupational therapy industry specifically to experience “very strong growth”, increasing by more than 35 per cent by 2019.
Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Michelle Campbell, said the expansion of offerings in the allied health sector resulted from a deep understanding of the changing needs of the health care industry.
“ACU has long forged a reputation as a leading educator of nurses over many decades. We saw the diversification of our offerings to include allied health courses as a natural progression for the Faculty of Health Sciences,” Professor Campbell said.
“Through our partnerships with the health care industry it was evident there was a growing need for allied health professionals such as OTs, speech pathologists and physiotherapists, and this need would continue to increase.
“We have been able to build the School of Allied Health to meet the demands of industry and it is with great excitement that we graduate the first cohort of OTs from Melbourne.”
A focus on delivering a modern occupational therapy offering was driven by the talented academic staff within the School of Allied Health, overseen by Head of School Professor Christine Imms.
Course Coordinators Dr Loretta Sheppard (Melbourne), Dr Elspeth Froude (Nth Sydney and National Coordinator) and Dr Laura Miller (Brisbane) have worked with the OT academic team to develop curriculum to meet the Occupational Therapy Council Accreditation Standards, ensuring students would be eligible to register as practicing OTs at the completion of their course.
The first graduating class of 56 OTs, who will be honoured this week as part of the ACU’s graduation ceremonies in Melbourne, are already making an impact in the industry across major hospitals, specialist centres and community health organisations in Melbourne and beyond.
One of the first graduates of the Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, Kerryn Parfett, who currently works in the Hand Therapy Unit of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, said the emphasis of placements and career support has translated into greater employment opportunities.
“I think the placements are the biggest drawcard for the course. You were able to do placements from first year, which gave you an insight into the profession and allowed you to put into place what you were learning in the classroom,” Kerryn said.
“In our final year we had a subject that was dedicated to helping us prepare for transitioning into the workforce, which gave us assistance in resume writing, practice interviews and opportunities to consult with career advisors.
“Speaking with some of the other graduates, our placement experience combined with our resume presentation and interview performance has stood out when applying for OT positions.”