Inspirational Story

Samira Bacha

Who am I? Samira Bacha

What do I do? Occupational Therapist and Lecturer Practitioner

Where do I work? Huddersfield University

Pronouns: she/her


I did not take the traditional route into Occupational Therapy (OT) with regards to my qualifications. Whilst I attained 9 GCSEs, I did not in fact complete any of my A-Levels. It was a few years after I should have completed my A levels that I decided to study AS Level Biology which enabled me to do a did a BTEC Higher National Diploma in Sports Science. I then gained a BSc (Hons) in Sport Science specialising in health and exercise psychology and became a mental health worker during which I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Mental Health in Primary Care. Due to already having an undergraduate degree, I was then able to access entry to OT via a 2-year MSc Occupational Therapy pre-registration course.

What Influenced my Choice of Profession?

I came to a plateau in my role as a mental health worker and found myself unable to progress for various reasons, so I began to look at other options which were: physiotherapy, social work, OT or psychology/psychotherapy or counselling. I didn’t have a clue what OT was at the time (which made it all the more interesting to research), but I knew it was related to all of these options and I also knew that there was some funding available to do the MSc accelerated entry program due to there being a national shortage of occupational therapists.

What attracted me

The more I read about the rehabilitative aspect of being an occupational therapists, the more I became attracted to the role. I was excited by the idea of being able to work in such a huge range of settings and felt that the underpinning philosophy about a holistic model of health (and not just a medical viewpoint) was in line with my values and experiences of disability. I wondered whether I would end up working in a prison, in a forensic secure setting, with children in paediatrics, with the elderly, in trauma and orthopaedics, in major trauma, in the community or somewhere else entirely? The opportunities were wide ranging and the idea of being able to help such a wide variety of people really appealed to my personality.

The Course

The course is broken down into modules and all students undertake a variety of practice placements where the “hands-on” learning take place. My first placement was on an allotment learning about the fundamental principles of humans being ‘occupational beings’ (i.e. we engage in meaningful occupations which are related to positive health and wellbeing). I then did a placement in paediatrics which took me into clinics, peoples’ homes and into schools to analyse childrens’ activities, and my final placement was 10 weeks in an intermediate care team. All students also complete a “role emerging placement” which is going into a setting that doesn’t have OT input and promoting the profession/demonstrating the benefits that an occupational therapist could bring into that particular service.

Choosing Occupational Therapy has proven to be one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have ever made

A Typical Day

Regardless of the setting an occupational therapist usually starts to build a therapeutic relationship with their patient from the outset. The aim is to obtain a rich social history/picture of your patient so that you can start to assess the activities of daily living (ADLs) that they may be struggling with, or which may have become disrupted for whatever reason. You analyse where their performance can be improved, and you collaborate with the person about their goals, and then you start to formulate a plan to get them there they want/need to be. This might be through having to grade one of their occupations (e.g. showering) into smaller manageable tasks, or it might be providing equipment to compensate for their disability.

My Career Journey

I began my career on a Trauma & Orthopaedic ward in an acute setting (hospital) assessing and treating patients who had elected to have surgery for an orthopaedic issue, or who had perhaps had an injury from a fall. Goals for treatment were usually around rehabilitating them so they could go back home e.g. to their loved ones and involved us visiting their homes to get everything set up for them. I then went on to work in the Intermediate Care Team who rehabilitate patients in their own home having returned from hospital or prevent their admission in the first place by maximising their safety around the home.

Next, I became a wheelchair therapist (an outpatient setting) where I was involved in postural assessment and providing people with the right wheelchair to enable them to engage in their day to day occupations. I was also fortunate to have experienced life as an oncology OT during the pandemic working with patients and their end of life goals, and now, after 13 years in clinical practice and having had the fantastic opportunity to educate so many students on placements as part of my role, I have just embarked on a journey to become lecturer in OT at Huddersfield University.


One Piece of Advice

Whilst the path has been fairly winding, I have no regrets in my journey or my choice of career. It is has proven to be one of the best and most rewarding decisions I have ever made and I cannot wait to try and inspire others to join me. If I could tell you one thing it would be not to worry about when or through which route you enter the profession. This is a career that can be undertaken at any age and via various routes.

This is a career that can be undertaken at any age and via various routes.

Want to learn more?

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