Sunday 30 July 2017

RCOT New Graduate Networking Event 2017 #NQOT17

The Royal College of Occupational Therapist New Graduate Networking Event 2017

On the 27th July 2017 the Royal College of Occupational Therapists hosted a new graduate networking event at their head office in London. I was lucky enough to be allocated a space at the event and eagerly set my alarm for 4am so that I could travel down to London in time for the start of the event.  There a few ways to catch up on the event such as following the hashtag on twitter: #NQOT17 or following the Royal College's posts on Facebook. 

NB: Views and reflections are my own but will have been impacted by discussions and interactions throughout the day. I have used tweets to help illustrate thoughts and views and where possible I have referenced these at the end of the blog post.

Preparing your next learning steps with the Career Framework with Dr Stephanie Tempest (RCOT, Education Manager - Professional Development)

Dr Stephanie Tempest introduced us to the new Career Development Framework that has been put together. The resource has been developed to be used by those within the occupational therapy professions as all levels from support worker right up to senior manager/researcher. It uses the 4 pillars of practice (Leadership, Professional Practice, Evidence, Research and Development and Facilitation of Learning) and charts them against the 9 leaves of Career Framework levels.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a crucial component of safe and effective practice. we need to engage in it to get the best outcomes for the individuals that we work with. But ultimately it is just learning and so there will be opportunities within our everyday practice it doesn't mean we need to be signing up for courses all the time to be improving our practice.  We can use the resources and people available to us within the workplace. Ask people and ACTIVELY listen to the feedback and this can support our development. 

The framework can be used on an individual level, service level, commissioner level and as profession as a whole which sounds promising. I particularly liked that there is no standard starting point in the framework because we all come from different start points and that is completely okay. It values that we all have different backgrounds and that this will impact on where we start our development. 

This session was also live steamed on Facebook so if you are a new grad or even if you have been qualified for years check it out for an introduction to the new framework. The stream had a few technical issues but can be seen in three parts: PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE. You can also download a copy of the slides here. If you do watch the stream and want to tweet about it the hashtag for this is #RCOTCareerFramework.

The 4 pillars are something I relatively familiar with from it's use with my workplace, but it was good to have time to reflect on where we felt we were at the start of our careers. I am looking forward to using it to track and plan my development as an Occupational Therapist. 

Another point I liked was the fact it acknowledges that we will move up and down on the pillars depending on our post and stage of our career but that charting where we are helps us to continue to develop the areas we need too throughout the process. 

The full Career Development Framework will be available from September and will include an interactive PDF, webpages, hardcopy implementation guide and resources to help you use it in practice and initial feedback has been very positive. 

So keep your eyes peeled on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website and social media sites for updates on it's release. 

World Cafe

Introduction to Library and Information Services

The Library team introduced the resources they provide to members of RCOT both in physical form within the library at RCOT HQ and online through the website. 

Did you know for example that you can request a photocopy of a chapter of a resource that the College only have in a physical format? They can also do literature searches for you. 

The new RCOT website has been live of a little while through, but this is only the first stage of changes so look out for additional resources being added once these next stages are complete. 

Introduction to Royal College of Occupational Therapist's Branches

Louise Cusack (UK Regional and Specialist Sections Manager) introduced us to the branches of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists - Specialist Sections and Regional Groups.  

If you didn't know already but every member of RCOT is part of a regional group. The address & postcode you used when you registered with RCOT its used to determine this. For example if you have EH postcode you would be part of the Scottish Eastern region. 

Being part of your regional group has some great advantages, such as increasing your networks, enhancing your communication skills, being part of developing and supporting CPD events in your area. It also aids your understanding of policy and RCOT campaign focuses going on within your area and nationally. 

I'm part of my local regional group and have found it a really positive experience to enhance my learning and support network as I transitioned from student to newly qualified Occupational Therapist. So Id encourage you to get involved in your regional group if not on committee then at least by attending CPD events and utilising the resources on offer for example access to Lifelong Learning Grants

The other branch of RCOT is the Specialist Sections which are open to members for a small additional charge to their membership and provide spaces to enhance your knowledge on particular areas of practice. Currently RCOT has around 11 specialist sections including HIV, Oncology and Palliative Care, Mental Health and Older People for example. Most specialist sections have an online presence, and send out regular newsletters keeping members up to date on recent relevant research, news and events. Most of the Specialist sections also host study days/conferences for their members which are a great resource to increase knowledge and also network with others working in similar specialists to you. 

Introduction to Professional Practice Team

Anne Keen introduced us to the role of the Professional Practice Team and how they can help us throughout our career. The team is made up of the Specialist Sections, Regional Groups (discussed above), Professional Advisers and the Professional Practice Enquires Service. 

The Professional Practice Enquiries Service is there to deal with enquires relevant to all aspects of our day to day practice in the workplace. It is a members benefit and is a great reason to become an RCOT member. The service can be accessed by phone or email. Anne Highlighted the Code of Ethics is the first go to guide for all aspects of professional practice but we know in reality day to day practice isn't always as simple as that and that is why the Professional Practice team are there to help and will respond with a tailed response that is relevant to the person and service asking. 

The Professional Practice team are there to support us within the workplace and the professional advisers are a brilliant resource if you have quires relevant to a specific specialist area of practice for example regarding children and young people or mental health. 

A key take home from this session was the importance of occupation in that we do and the service we provide. Thats the area we are experts in so that needs to be at the centre of what we do in out day to day work with our clients. Crucially because this is our speciality we need to stop abbreviating what we do because how then can we get annoyed that people don't understand what we do. 

We are Occupational Therapists not just "OTs".

Introduction to how Royal College of Occupational Therapists can support Evidence Based Practice

Pauline Macdonald discussed the range of resources RCOT provide to aid our evidences based practice such as hot topics and RCOT fact sheets which summarise relevant evidence on topics. There is upcoming resources being produced to give occupational therapists further information about AMPs, TOMS and COPM as outcome measures. 

There is also a research newsletter you can sign up for by emailing:, which is well worth signing up for to keep up to date.

Media and Learning with Andrew Sharratt (RCOT, Head of Media Relations)

This session focused on a mix of the use of social media to increase publicity and also on the RCOT's Living not Existing Campaign. 

Andrew introduced us to the power of social media in sharing a story but questioned are we aware of the story we are telling. Do we know all the facts and will it have benefit to the profession by sharing it? 

He also shared his golden rules for the use of social media to curb possible negative effects on our careers and profession:

- Would you want whatever you are tweeting on the front page of   the Daily Mail?
- Would you be embarrassed if your mum saw your post?
- If you are in doubt, Don't post it.

Andrew encouraged occupational therapists to make friends with your organisations press officer and run things by them before publishing anything that could by impacting the organisation we work for.  He also encouraged us to take time each week to think and reflect about the stories we can tell showing the #ValueofOT and how we could go about sharing these. 

The session also considered the #LivingNotExisting campaign and how social media is being used to support this. The first video released is on youtube and focusses on the role Occupational Therapists can play in supporting independence of people at home within the community. It is well worth a watch...

The Campaign's next  (September 2018) focus will consider the role of Occupational Therapists in supporting individuals with mental health difficulties. 

Watching the video in this session actually evoked some emotion when we actually considered the difference we make  to individuals day in day out as Occupational Therapists. We should be shouting about this because we can and do make the difference to a persons health and wellbeing by our interventions and approaches that work with the client to allow them to maintain and participate in their meaningful and essential occupations. Its never just as simple as making a cup of tea... 

The First Year with Natalie Greenwell (Occupational Therapist, Tees, Ask and Wear NHS Foundation Trust)

Tilly joined us to share her experiences of the first year as a newly qualified occupational therapist. I was completely reneged in this session, not just because she used Harry Potter quotes to illustrate her journey. 

She broached the age old question (and one very relevant to me), do you take any job or do you wait out for a job in the area you want to specialise in? Ultimately it is a personal response and so individually crucial when seeking out employment once qualified. 

Tilly shared her challenges of being a newly qualified Occupational Therapist such as that lingering feeling of not knowing what you are doing. When you consider the transitional experience from experienced student to novice practitioner, it is understandable that this is a compounding feeling that we focus on over and over as a new grad. Ultimately as Tilly mentioned it is beneficial to use time to reflect on the experience of this transition if we are to really understand and move past those feelings as we develop our practice. 

To aid this transition Tilly also highlighted things that had helped her for example:

- Don't be afraid to ASK questions
- LEARN from others and experiences
- Be resilient 
- Prepare as much as you can
- Carpe Diem - Make the most of the present situation you are in
- Use social media (#OTalk on Twitter, 4OT groups on Facebook)
- Network with others 

I found Tilly's presentation really helpful and could relate to a lot of the things she was saying as a new graduate.  It can often be hard to move on when things haven't turned out great but that doesn't mean we should be moving forward. 

Tilly talked positively and encouraged us as new grads to get involved with RCOT and other development activities to open up opportunities and assist in supporting our professional networks and in turn building our professional confidence. 

Finally just to say another big thank you to Tilly for sharing her experiences as I know she was a tiny wee bit nervous about the experience. 

Overall summary of the day: Great experience and If you get a chance to go along next year, jump at the opportunity. 

Also a massive thank you to Maureen Shiells and the rest of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists team for being so welcoming and generally making the day run smoothly.


Cusack L (2017) Introduction to Royal College of Occupational Therapist's Branches [World Cafe Session at Royal College of Occupational Therapists New Graduate Networking Event], London . 27th July.

Greenwell N (2017) The First Year [Presentation at Royal College of Occupational Therapists New Graduate Networking Event], London . 27th July. 

Keen A (2017) Introduction to Professional Practice Team [World Cafe Session at Royal College of Occupational Therapists New Graduate Networking Event], London . 27th July.

Macdonald P (2017) Introduction to how Royal College of Occupational Therapists can support Evidence Based Practice [World Cafe Session at Royal College of Occupational Therapists New Graduate Networking Event], London . 27th July.

Royal College of Occupational Therapists (2017) #LiveNotExist - Fred's Story Available at: (Accessed 28th July 2017)

Sharratt A (2017) Media and Learning [Presentation at Royal College of Occupational Therapists New Graduate Networking Event], London . 27th July. 

Tempest S(2017) Planning your next learning steps with the career Framework [Presentation at Royal College of Occupational Therapists New Graduate Networking Event], London . 27th July. 

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