True Stories: Helena Young – My story

When I started at university my first career of choice had been dietetics and I always wanted to work in a hospital setting. I had been told that for dietetics, I would have to major in chemHelena-Young_editedistry for my B Sc degree. I had to choose one more subject in first year and the subject coordinator at the desk on my first day at university suggested Psychology 1, which I knew nothing about. However he convinced me with the simple statement, “Psychology 1 is going to be very useful to you”.

In the first year of BSc, I met lots of students from all sorts of backgrounds and it was a stimulating learning environment. I made friends with a group of young women who were all aiming towards Occupational Therapy (OT) as a career. It sounded like an interesting profession and I “hung out” with the OT group most of the time.

My marks in chemistry were very very average. The lab experiments never seemed to work out for me and my poor lab partner, a boy who hoped to become a scientist one day. The spectre of years of organic and inorganic chemistry seemed rather depressing. With Psychology 1 however, I received a Distinction and my Occupational Therapy student friends encouraged me to join the road to Occupational Therapy. So you could say I entered OT by default, following the path of least resistance!

My first experience of clinical OT was after the end of the B Sc, as in those times, there was a Post Graduate Diploma in Occupational Therapy (PGDOT) course at Cumberland College. My first placement was in the holidays prior to the beginning of the PGDOT course, so I had absolutely no idea what OT was really about. The placement was in community mental health where the OT role and team structure really appealed to me. That was the beginning of my OT career.

I currently work at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) where the allied health profile is valued and the team’s respect and support for the OT role is excellent. The children bring out the best in us. I think CHW has been designed to be a child friendly environment and I think the care and service provided by the staff here is the best that is possible, often under highly stressful workloads.

My current job is in the Neuromuscular caseload. I really enjoy my relationships with the children and their families. I find the respect given to the OT role in the Neuromuscular and Neurogenetics team very encouraging. I like to work with families on finding solutions to their difficulties in daily living, and I continue to learn more every day from my colleagues and families about physical disabilities and OT role. It is an evolving process.

Helena Young

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW)

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