Bachelor of Health Science (Honours) student
Bachelor of Health Science (Occupational Therapy)
For Natalie Kane, being able to complete workplace experience in a variety of different settings was a highlight of her occupational therapy degree.
“I enjoyed the diversity in terms of clinical placements in the Bachelor of Health Science (Occupational Therapy). I had experiences in community physical health, mental health, vocational rehabilitation and spinal rehabilitation. The placement opportunities and teachings enable you to find what you’re passionate about, and give it a go, before committing to something. And even if you commit to one area, you can still change specialties; it’s such a broad field with never ending opportunities.
“My final clinical placement at the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit really solidified for me that I want to pursue a career in physical rehabilitation in the future. During this placement, I was able to be there for patients during some of the hardest, most life-altering experiences they might ever go through, and I got to be the one to hand them a lifeline and help them find meaning in their lives again. It was such a rewarding experience for me to see it all come together and see just how important occupational therapy is in the health industry.”
The occupational therapy degree will help you grow more than you knew you could, says Natalie who was the student representative for the occupational therapy students and, after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in March 2021, is now enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Science (Honours). She also works part-time at the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit.
“I can genuinely say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the experiences and lessons this degree has provided me with. Studying occupational therapy has undoubtedly helped me grow into a more empathetic, altruistic, patient and dedicated person. I’ve also really enjoyed the relationships formed with my classmates and the academic staff. You really do become one big family by the end of it all.”
The right fit
She has always known she wanted to help people, Natalie says.
“I’m an active person and knew I wanted to work with people and not sit behind a desk all day. I chose the occupational therapy degree because I wanted to be involved in a profession that treated patients holistically. When researching the different health disciplines, I learned that occupational therapists are educated in both physical and mental health, and are therefore trained to treat the whole person.
“Occupational therapy is a career that enables me to spend quality time with patients, getting to know them and what makes their life meaningful, and helping them achieve that and improve their quality of life. Giving someone the ability to live a meaningful, enriching and purpose-filled life was something I knew would feel so rewarding.”
Once she had decided she wanted a career in occupational therapy, choosing where to study was easy for Natalie.
“I chose to study at AUT because of its good reputation both in New Zealand and overseas. AUT offers a lot of practicum and clinical skill hours, and this was important to me as I learn through doing. AUT is also known as a supportive, inclusive and safe place for the LGBTQIA+ community. Because this is a community I belong to, it was important to know that I would be supported and advocated for by the university I chose.”
Advice for other students
Natalie has some great advice for other students.
“The advice I would give other students is to dive in and make the most of every opportunity. Be a sponge and soak everything up. Sometimes you may find yourself in situations that weren't your first choice, but that's life. I believe if you dig deep, you’ll find the value in every learning experience and opportunity offered to you through this degree.”
Start your assignments early, she adds.
“Remember that ‘due date’ doesn’t equal ‘do date’. Get a calendar or a planner, and stay on top of your assignments and start them earlier to reduce the workload closer to the due dates.”