Next week is my last week on placement and not just my last week on any placement it’s the last week of my final placement. Where have 3 years gone?
So, I thought I’d do one last placement blog before this chapter comes to an end, and I decided to do this on being honest about my needs on placement. I talk about being honest on placement a lot in my blogs but let me just tell you its more of a ‘do as I say not as I do’ kind of thing! As I’ve struggled to be honest with all of my educators throughout my studies about my needs but one need, in particular, stands out and this is fatigue.
I managed to do my first and second year (traditional) placements both full-time and took either half a day a week, study leave or a full day fortnightly. My first placement was great it was only 6 weeks, it also fell over the Easter break so I had a lovely week off (in which I went aboard this helped recharge the batteries) and the weather was also a lot nicer which we all know helps a great deal. So, yes fatigue levels were high by the end of it (especially seen as I was coming to the end of the semester) but not worryingly high. I mean, to be fair, it was my first year at university therefore, the previous year I’d been doing 7 weeks half terms at college, so I couldn’t really complain.
During my second placement, I started to struggle especially as this was during the autumn, the nights were drawing in and it was getting colder. Yet, I still managed full-time I’m not going to lie it was hard but I thought this was hard because I’d only been back to university part-time after 3 months off for a few weeks before therefore I assumed the issue was just about getting back into a routine.
It became apparent that it was more than this and my academic advisor had to visit me. During the visit, she suggested that my next traditional placement (the one I’m currently on) should be part-time. I was up for this, I didn’t like the fact that it could potentially put me behind a bit with the written work but this was what needed to be done. So what if, I finished a few weeks later in the summer?
Yet, when I was given the opportunity last autumn of this placement to be full or part-time I said full-time. It was a virtual placement in the comforts of my own home… Surely, if I can manage two full-time placements in practice I could manage one at home, especially after a rested Christmas break.
The reality is that I couldn’t and my last half of this placement has had to be completed part-time.
I felt bad for admitting this and it took a lot of strength to do so. It was only when I was sat on a coffee and chat Zoom call with my peers in bed that I realised something needed to change because this wasn’t me. Coincidentally, just after that call when I walked downstairs my Mum must have read my mind as she said “Time to go part-time now, G.”. That was it Mums know best!
As previously mentioned going part-time was hard, and it did play on my mind, as I hate being lazy and I didn’t want to be seen as lazy because of going part-time. Another factor was that I was working from home and yet I still had to go part-time and that was playing on my mind too.
Then I compared it to my previous placements and realised I wasn’t being unreasonable. As highlighted previously some of my placements have been easier in other ways and this is certainly the placement where I’ve been the most independent (minus my role-emerging, it’s very different as now I have a caseload). But it’s not just about the workload it’s also about the final year pressures which I guess is why the workload has increased. As soon as I started placement I had an assignment to write and submit in the middle of placement which I’ve never had to contend with before.
My previous assignment was completed before I started, but that meant that I was busy on the run-up placement which affects my energy levels in the long run.
Now I’ve done all this analysing I feel so much better, and I feel proud of what I have managed during this time on placement. Although I was worryingly fatigued halfway through placement I don’t regret it. I can finish my placement on time next week, gain some energy over Easter and have 2 months to work on my final assignments!
I know admitting when times are tough is hard and is really personal but having almost completed 4 practice occupational therapy placements I know that this is the best thing I’ve done.
I hope that if you are struggling you find that courage to do be honest one day too!
Thank you for reading,