Ursula, Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioner, NHS Lanarkshire

Ursula is an occupational therapist who stopped working to have a family. She never intended to give it up forever, and has returned to practice 20 years after first practising.

I'm Ursula, I'm an occupational therapist. It took me about a year and a half to complete my return to practice journey, but that was interrupted by about 10 months because of a pandemic.

I gave up occupational therapy when my children were young, but it was never my intention to give it up forever and when my children got a bit older, I decided I wanted to go back.

At the start of the process, I felt very apprehensive. I had been out of the job for almost 20 years and I was very nervous about going back into it.

I managed to balance the need for supervised practice, formal study, and informal study by combining patients that I encountered in supervised practice with my informal study, so if I met somebody then I would use that as a prompt to go and learn a bit more about their treatment and their condition in my own time. I did less formal study, but it was useful during the pandemic to have Open University courses and Coursera courses that I could turn to.

I did my supervised practice in a range of areas, both in hospital and in community, and across mental health and physical disability areas. It was a really useful wide range of experiences I had and I enjoyed it all very much.

After I re-registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, I chose to take a band 4 job as assistant practitioner with the community brain injury team, because I had been out of the health service for such a long time and it's changed so radically, and also because brain injury is a specialist field that had no previous experience of.

If I had any advice for anyone considering returning to practice I would say just go for it. You'll find that your core skills as a professional will still be there and I've enjoyed it enormously. I'm sure it would be a rewarding and interesting experience for anyone.


How long did your return to practice journey take?

It took me about a year and a half to complete my return to practice journey, but that was interrupted by about 10 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why did you decide to return to practice?

I gave up occupational therapy when my children were young, but it was never my intention to give it up forever. So when my children got a bit older, I decided I wanted to come back.

How did you find returning to practice?

At the start of the process, I felt very apprehensive. I had been out of the job for almost 20 years, and I was very nervous about going back into it.

I managed to balance the need for supervised practice, formal study, and informal study by combining patients that I encountered in supervised practice with my informal study. If I met somebody then I would use that as a prompt to go and learn a bit more about their treatment and their condition in my own time.

I did less formal study, but it was useful during the pandemic to have Open University courses and Coursera courses that I could turn to.

I did my supervised practice in a range of areas, both in hospital and in the community, and across mental health and physical disability areas. It was a really useful wide range of experiences I had and I enjoyed it all very much.

What did you do after you completed your return to practice?

After I re-registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, I chose to take a band 4 job as assistant practitioner with the community brain injury team. This was because I had been out of the health service for such a long time and it's changed so radically, and also because brain injury is a specialist field that I had no previous experience of.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of returning to practice as an AHP?

If I had any advice for anyone considering returning to practice, I would say just go for it. You'll find that your core skills as a professional will still be there and I've enjoyed it enormously. I'm sure it would be a rewarding and interesting experience for anyone.

AHP Return to Practice

If you're thinking of re-registering as an AHP, we have all the details you need to start your return to practice journey.

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