Image description: Georgia a white woman in a black jumper in the corner of a room her hair is straight and she has her glasses on. She is holding a blue letter board with white writing saying 'Online VS Clinical'.
Newly Qualified Occupational Therapist

Why Does My Online Presence and My Clinical Practice Feel So Different?

Regardless of who we are and what we do, we all have different levels of confidence online than what we do in clinical practice. Yet, in this blog, I wanted to discuss the pressure that I put on myself in practice because I am so vocal online.

Now, I feel extremely lucky that NSTP has the presence it does and particularly my profile within the occupational therapy community on Twitter. I’ve had a few people now at work or at CPD events tell me that they know of me from Twitter just like I know them from Twitter too and it’s so lovely to connect with them in person and not through a screen. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for all the communities I am involved in, Twitter is an amazing place!

However, because I am quite active on Twitter, I worry that this creates a false perception of me. Yeah, I’m quite used to challenging the status quo now and I am not afraid to have my say, but I only ever speak about something I feel confident in and when this comes to practice this isn’t a lot.

It’s so hard not to be vocal online once you have the presence, for example, this blog comes as the first blog in my series of blogs for Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, therefore I am going to be really active this month on social media. But just because I am going to be active on social media this month doesn’t mean that I’m beaming with confidence in practice and this is more so because of my disability.

Isn’t odd how I’m confident advocating online about my CP and my needs but when it comes to being in the physical environment my anxiety kicks in? This isn’t just about using my occupational therapy skills, of course, the thought about finally having a paying job that allows me to apply my skills to practice petrifies me but it’s my disability that amplifies that worry. Will I be able to communicate in a professional capacity? Will I be too, fatigued? Will all of this have an impact on my clinical skills, that I cannot wait to learn and demonstrate?

Of course, we all experience imposters syndrome and I’m just qualified in a new role, no one is looking at me and expecting me to know everything and I am certainly not putting pressure on myself. I’m not going to deny that I am my own worst critique, and I am certainly over-complicating this situation that every newly qualified professional goes through.

This partly stems from not being in clinical practice since 2019 and this has impacted my confidence massively which is reasonable and as I expected when reflecting on this before going into my second virtual placement. I still don’t regret this placement and I know, that I made the right decision. But I still feel like I’m that second-year occupational therapy student with minimal clinical skills who, on top of that, hasn’t figured out all of the unexpected battles that her disability may present.

I can’t help thinking, should I be so vocal online when in actuality I’m a newly qualified occupational therapist with a whole load of imposters syndrome?

My answer is yes, you see my blog is my CPD and where I come to reflect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s scary baring my soul in a post like this. Why do I do it? I do it because my blog is about sharing my feelings honestly and right now being a newly qualified occupational therapist 2-years into a pandemic is tough, disability or no disability. I know, I am lacking in clinical skills and will need a lot of supervision, but doesn’t every occupational therapist need supervision? I know, I haven’t figured out all my needs in practice and there are many more hurdles to come. But no one knows everything and as long as I make that clear on my blog I can take that pressure off myself.

I expected this blog to be 1000 words minimum of me pouring my heart out and discussing what exactly my fears are. But, no one can prepare for everything as life loves a curveball. I’m not denying that when that curveball comes whether it is disability-related, clinical skills related or both that it won’t be tough and I’ll come to my blog to have a ramble. Yet if anything my 22-years of experience of disability has taught me not to fear the unknown as these learning curves enhance our skills both personally and professionally.

As a disabled occupational therapist, I have become pretty good at utilising my skills to problem-solve and if those problems are a bit tougher, I know that my blog is here ready for me to ramble!

How do you approach problem-solving? Share your tips in the comments!

Thank you for reading, 

Georgia x

3 thoughts on “Why Does My Online Presence and My Clinical Practice Feel So Different?”

  1. all the best Georgia as you settle into your first post as a qualified occupational therapist, look out for the @elizabethCasso1 project for newly qualified occupational therapist they have loads of resources to support you and even an online drop in session to meet other newly qualified occupational therapists … imposter syndrome !!!!

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