I’ve always been creative – at school I was very involved with music, dance and art from an early age. At university I completed a BA (hons) in Creative Arts – this was a liberal arts degree that allowed me to take modules in Visual Art and Choreography/Dance and Humanities. Following this I also completed a MA in Art Theory, which was far more academic, covering topics in visual cultures, philosophy and critical theory.
After graduating I started to work freelance as an illustrator/printer maker for about 3 years. During this time I needed some more regular income – feeling tired of working in bars and retail I decided I wanted to do something more meaningful, so took a job as a support worker for a young person with an acquired brain injury- which I loved! It was really varied and allowed me to have a direct impact on someone’s quality of life. I was able to share my love of creative arts and we used to do all sorts of projects at home together (making music videos, learning to knit, painting etc.) as well as going to see art and theatre in the community. This led to further work at a day centre for adults with learning disabilities. Again, I really enjoyed the practical and face-to-face contact with people and seeing the effect of positive engagement.
Increased my empathy and compassion towards others
For me, art has always been means to further my understanding of myself and others as well as connecting and relating through different forms of communication. I’ve always been interested in the power of art to transform, cross boundaries and bring people together. Art has trained me to see the world from different perspectives and understand subjective experiences which I think has increased my empathy and compassion towards others and the desire to work with people.
Working in healthcare allows me make a difference to the people around me in a very direct way. Working with people with learning disabilities seems to really fit with my more creative skills which I use daily, designing and laying out resources for my service-users and thinking about how best to communicate information accessibly. I use my observational skills and understanding of context when assessing service-users everyday skills and environments. Being able to see the bigger picture as well as analyzing the details has also helped me to identify and solve problems effectively.
I never wanted a job where I sat behind a desk all day and have always enjoyed work where I could be active and work to a certain degree of autonomy. Working in the community as an occupational therapist allows me to get out and about and manage my own caseload. Everyday is different and I always have opportunities that challenge me to think, reflect and develop as a professional and as a person. Meeting new service-users and their families/support staff, learning about their lives, interests and needs, and working collaboratively in meeting their goals is very rewarding.