Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Health Sciences

Rosie Norman BSc Occupational Therapy, 2017

Third Year Student

Rosie Norman's Photo

Hi, I'm Rosie Norman and I'm currently studying Occupational Therapy at the University of Southampton.

The best experience on the course was getting to travel to Sweden and collaborate with the students of Lund University. Whilst there we got to listen to some amazing speakers from the world of OT, who offered new and fresh perspectives on where the profession of is heading.

What made you select the University of Southampton for your undergraduate study?

I am a seconded student, therefore Southampton was the University my Trust wanted me to apply for, however if I had a choice I would still have wanted to study at Southampton. Before attending, I had heard about the good balance between academic, practical and vocational study which attracted me.

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

I have all my lectures at the Highfield Campus. The main Health Sciences building has really nice lecture theatres and practical rooms; there are also two computer suites which you can access. The second building has been modernised, and they have good open spaces for practicing manual handling, wheelchair skills and trying out equipment which may be used during placements.

The rest of the Highfield campus has a wide choice of social spaces, from places to eat, a theatre and an art gallery. There is also a nice green space which I make a lot of use of in the summer, and Southampton common is a short walk away. Hartley Library is great, it has a wide range of resources, and the staff there are really helpful so if you’re struggling to find what you need there is always help at hand. There are study rooms which can easily be booked and lots of space to complete private study, either bringing in your own laptop or using the computers on site.

What do you enjoy about the course?

I feel the most enjoyable aspect of the course is the variety of subjects which are covered throughout the three years. The lecturing team have diverse experiences in the field of OT, which means that as a student you are made aware of the broad range of work environments you can go into in this career. This also allows you to pursue a particular interest, and I have found that you can tailor your experience to maximise your exposure to an area of interest, or just enjoy the various learning experiences.

The placement experiences I have had are going to be invaluable to me moving forward into my career. I have been able to gain an understanding of mental and physical health, complex behaviours in learning disabilities, and the role of community OT. My favourite placement was in my second year, when I completed a six week placement at an Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) centre. The emerging role allowed me to work in service which does not traditionally have an OT as part of the team. Alongside working closely with the diverse client group who used this service, I also learnt a lot about people management, and how to instigate change in a service provided. My lecture Maggie Bracher acted as my supervisor during this placement, and was very supportive and helped me develop my research for my third-year based on my experiences from this role.

Do you participate in any extra-curricular activities (such as clubs, societies)? If you have, what skills have you acquired?

I chose to opt out of participating in any clubs or societies at the University, as I commute in from quite a distance. Outside of University I am part of an equine academy, and I am involved in riding clinics, and compete as part of a team. I also volunteer with a rehoming charity who rescue for battery hens. I am aware a number of students on my course are involved with Mind, a mental health charity, and this has assisted them greatly in their placements in the mental health sector.

Could you tell us about your clinical placements and/or experiences applying your skills in real-life settings?

Although the lectures and time at the University does prepare you for clinical placements, and begin to develop your clinical skills, you can’t truly know what to expect. You experience a whole range of opportunities to build skills; not just during contact with patients/clients but also experiencing what it’s like to be part of a multi-disciplinary team and also the importance of promoting the role of an OT, as you are an advocate for your profession.

This has meant I have developed people management skills alongside my therapeutic skills, which will benefit me in my future career. In particular when in my emerging role placement I learnt how to adapt my working style to fit with a team who were not from a traditional healthcare background and therefore did not have the clinical reasoning skills I had learnt on my course. I therefore had to change my normal approach to make sure that the therapy I was delivering was understood and they could appreciate my reasoning behind the sessions I delivered to clients.

At this stage of your studies, what advice would you give to a student starting their undergraduate study at Southampton?

Firstly decide if this course, particularly a vocational one like OT is really what you want to do. It is a massive undertaking and so make sure you a good understanding about what the course entails.

The biggest piece of advice would be to get involved in the course as much as you can. I have taken opportunities to assist during lectures and outside of the structured sessions to maximise my learning experiences. My biggest achievement was delivering a lecture to first year OT students on the benefits of animal therapies in mental health. I have also been involved in assisting on student Open Days and manual handling sessions. This has helped me develop my presentation skills in a range of environments and improved my confidence.

The course isn’t easy and you will have to do a lot of study outside of lectures. I have to say that having a good group of friends on the course really helps and setting up study groups, or just meeting for coffee outside of lectures. As a mature student, I was worried I would potentially feel out of place but the age range on the course I really varied.

What elements of your degree have you enjoyed the most so far?

I think the best experience on the course, and one I will always remember was getting to travel to Sweden and collaborate with the students of Lund University, alongside Irish OT students. Whilst there we got to listen to some amazing speakers from the world of OT, who offered new and fresh perspectives on where the profession of OT is heading. One which particularly stood out to me was on the importance of creating a sustainable OT service and the impact this can have on the local community, and wider society. We visited local charities, and compared these to a similar service at home. Following this we presented with the students we collaborated with to an auditorium full of international students which was a brilliant experience to end our trip with.

Any other things you would like to mention?

I will be sad to leave as I have enjoyed my time studying at Southampton, but I feel ready and excited to start my career as an OT. I have secured my first professional job working at Queen Alexandra (QA) Hospital in a rotational post, which covers a vast array of areas and will allow me to continue to develop as an OT.

Life as an OT Student

Find out more about the typical day of an Occupational Therapy student at the University of Southampton

Discover the course
Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo
Privacy Settings