It’s never too late to go back to study, but it’s often a case of balance. For third year APIMH student, Jennifer Owen, studying takes plenty of commitment, especially alongside a busy work and home life.
I have worked as a Mental Health Occupational Therapist for about 18 years, much of this being in recovery focused community mental health teams. I completed my undergraduate degree straight from school, back in the day when the internet was not the main source of information, so returning to academia was a bit of a culture shock and I felt a bit of a fish out of water at first. The course has been part time, over three years, and from a personal point of view, fitted in nicely when my daughter started school as it gave me the opportunity to look at my own skills and development. The nature of the course has meant the topics were balanced with clinical interest and the development of skills in research.
I chose to apply for the course as I have an interest in working with psychosis, and felt it was becoming less prevalent within service delivery due to the profile and resource direction of other conditions, such as personality disorder. When the opportunity to apply for the course came up, I admit to feeling concerned about my ability to write academically. However, I can honestly say I have received great support from my tutors and the guided content of the course provides a balance of clinical and academic skills and opportunity to consolidate these within a dissertation.
My dissertation is focused on a service proposal considering the provision of a lighter version of family intervention for Psychosis. I chose to do this as it fits in with the service I work for, and ensures that carers for people with mental health issues have the opportunity to access support that is meaningful to them. Personally, I find this rewarding, and feel it will not only benefit my career, but also allow me the opportunity to enhance the care I provide as a clinician. I have regular supervision, and my supervisor and academic advisor have provided me with regular support and guidance throughout.
The most challenging aspect of the course is achieving a balance of study, alongside of my work and home life. The course is designed to allow for this, with the assignments generally spaced out, but you do need a level of commitment to ensure that you get the most out of it. The tutors have been great with support as needed. I would highly recommend a course such as this one, as long as you are in a position to put the work in.