Saturday, 24 September 2011

Creating a CPD Folder/Portfolio

Also in the “New OT seeks first job”  trilogy:

This week I’ve been doing a bit of reflection on my preparation for a job interview I had recently after speaking to a friend who had asked for a bit of advice over the creation of a CPD folder. Having evidence of CPD (continuing professional development) is a common feature on many person specifications and is an essential element of the HPC standards – which all occupational therapists must conform to in order to practice under this title. To be honest I thought the whole concept of creating one to be fairly simple and that it wouldn’t involve much more work than a bit of collating and organising, however the reality of the task was quite different and proved to be challenging.

I found the task of creating a CPD folder confusing – what information was relevant and how should I organise it, the two questions I faced. I had previously attempted compiling a CPD folder using the guidance from the HPC example activity types however this didn’t work. I found the answer though through the use of the ILOD, produced by the BAOT/COT

The ILOD (interactive learning opportunities database) has within it a career planning section which enables you to search for development opportunities and ideas relevant to your career level and aims, for example I selected and searched:

The search resulted in a list of key elements and their associated post-qualifying framework requirements alongside a list of ideas/opportunities to maintain and develop that element. I found these suggestions incredibly useful as they both gave me ideas as to the types of evidence I needed to put in each section but also put my activities into perspective as to their relevance to my CPD such as this blog.

It only took me about a day to put together and largely because I had to do a bit of writing and printing for it. Basically my CPD portfolio is just a lever arch folder divided into ten sections and below I have provided a few examples of what sorts of information I have put within each section.

1. CPD and Lifelong Learning
 - Personal development plan, a copy of which is available to download through the ILOD 
 - Placement reports 
 - Certificates such as manual handling; basic life support etc. 
 - Lecture notes on preceptorship and the KSF 

2.    Knowledge and Skills
 - Certificates from training attended during placements e.g. sensory impairment study day 
 - Information on the relevant field (to the job) 
 - Reflection on a networking meeting I attended 

3.    Communication
 - Anonymised copies of a couple of reports I had written on placement 

4.    Team-working
 - Appraisal letters – which make comment upon my ability to work within the team 
 - Summary of the various professions involved within the MDT 

5.    Leadership and Management
 - Supervision notes 
 - The Department of Health’s Allied Health Professions Bulletin (sign up on DH site) 

6.    Evidence Based Practice and Research
 - Copy of COT Briefings 23 – definitions and core skills of OT which I have annotated 
 - My summaries of the Model of Human Occupation and Canadian Model of Occupational Performance (due to being evidence-based) 

7.    Critical Thinking
 - A printout of my blog post on ‘Quest for a Professional Identity’ 
 - Written Reflections (unless they are more relevant in another section)

8.    Risk Management and Ethical Practice
 - COT guidelines 
 - I actually haven’t got anything in this section yet! 
9.    Service User Involvement 
 - I actually haven’t got anything in this section either

10.  Educating Others
 - (Relevant) presentation copies in

These are just a examples of what I have in mine and ideas of what you could include – remember everyone will have different CPDs – even new grads qualifying from the same course. What I have in mine may not be completely right but I believe demonstrate my skills as a professional and what I have thus far learned in OT and this is what the evidence is supposed to be proof of.

Despite being a part of the person specification, my portfolio wasn’t actually looked at directly but I was asked if there was anything I was particularly proud of which I would like to share. If you haven’t got one yet it is defiantly worth starting a basic one, which you can add to later - mine isn't that full (about a quarter) which I think is fine because I'm only recently qualified so haven't got vast amount of experience to document from. Even if it is not required of you – I think taking a CPD portfolio to interview looks good as it does show a degree of how serious you are about maintaining your standards as a professional.

Want some interview advice and example questions see this post

*members-only resource

Friday, 16 September 2011

My New ' What is OT' Video

Yesterday I discovered a website you can use to create your very own animated videos, so today as I had absolutely nothing to do I decided to create one about "What is Occupational Therapy". I can't post the video actually on here (as I am not paying to export the video to youtube) but follow this link and have a watch.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Interview Tips and Advice

Also in the “New OT seeks first job”  trilogy:

So, today I went to my first interview for a rotational band 5 post - very exciting stuff. When I first heard I was much the same - extremely excited by the prospect of attaining my first OT position, however after calming down I begun to panic as I had no idea what sorts of things I needed to prepare for this interview. At university we had discussed the potential different sorts of questions and what the interviewers were really looking for, but this had become a hazy memory among those of dissertation and exam worries - so what was I to do? The answer was this - turn to the one resource which I knew could provide me with some much needed advice - twitter.

In posted this message:

I had a fantastic response and have decided that it is only right that I share these with you so below are a list of potential questions and a few tips from these wonderful OTs:

Possible Questions
Please remember this is not a complete list and only has ideas of questions that may come up.
I have noted in red what I think some of these questions are really trying to ask.

·         What made you choose OT?
·         What is your motivation in applying for this post?
These questions are examining your motivation for the post, and have the potential to highlight your strengths as well as your hopes from working within the post.
·         Think of one client – what did you do and how did OT have a valuable contribution?
This can be tricky, but the real question is how you see OT as having a positive impact and is this positive for the hospital or client or both.

·         What are your strengths and weaknesses?
·         Why should we appoint you as opposed to other candidates we are interviewing?
·         What skills have you got to bring to this post?
These three questions are targeted at identifying whether you meet the needs of the department in terms of the skills you can bring and offer – it is important to recognise what these are but not to forget that you will also have weaknesses. Identify your weaknesses but turn it into a positive – say you need to work on this skill or that actually whilst it is a weakness it can also be a strength because....
·         How would your colleagues describe you?
This one can be difficult as you have to think how you come across to others but is much the same as selecting your strengths and weaknesses but in the scenario of team-working.
·         What do you see as the main challenges of this post?
This one is seeing if you have actually read the job description but can also be an opportunity to bring up how your weaknesses may impact upon your work – if you do discuss this, make sure you can identify methods to overcome these potential challenges.
·         Give an example of when you had to deal with a confidentiality issue?
This one is seemingly tricky, but you can turn it around as confidentiality is something which must be dealt with daily so think how this has impacted upon your working.
·         What is the most challenging thing you’ve ever had to do?
·         What would you do if a patient’s relative was complaining and making a scene?
·         Dealing with rapidly changing situations on the ward is essential to this post. Can you give an example of a time when you’ve had to do this?
These examine how you deal with situations, both expected and unexpected. How do you act under pressure – it’s okay if your previous experiences proved to be the ‘wrong way’ but identify that you need to change this.

·         Give an example of a time when you had to work as member of a team and how you fulfilled your role?
·         How would you manage the transition between ending one and starting another rotation?
·         Can you give an example of a time when things did not go to plan in the course of your work? What did you learn from this experience?
·         Tell me something that went well and why
·         Tell me something that went badly and what would you do differently?

·         Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Forward planning is always good to do – but they are looking for some commitment, not for you to be using this job as a mere stepping stone.
·         What would you hope to learn from this post?
What opportunities can you gain – how would you expect to learn i.e. through CPD opportunities, experiential leanring?
·         How would you as a band 5 OT promote the profession and the role of OT, both within your own department and external areas?

These questions are looking at your knowledge – you may not know the answers and if so do not make them up.
·         What is the role of the occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant in the multidisciplinary team?
·         What was the last professional-related/research article you read and what did you gain from it all?
I would recommend reading an article – and to help it sink in, write a paragraph stating what it was about and what you learned or just make a few bullet points.
·         Describe the differences between an environmental, home and discharge visit?

·         How would you describe your ideal line manager?
·         Which placements have you enjoyed most and least?
This has to be handled with care – you don’t want to offend anyone and regarding placements – you want to show how your positive and negative experiences have informed you choice to apply for this role – for me a rotational post would extend the practice experience I lacked in my placements.

 How do you see your role changing when you start work?
Tell me how you and the patient connect?
Remember client-centeredness, as the way you connect may vary.

Handy Tips from OTs
·         Be yourself
·         Recognise you have weaknesses but remember your strengths
·         Be passionate, enthusiastic and confident – interviewers can forgive nerves/daft answers
·         Let them see that your enthusiastic to work in all areas and that you are willing to learn from the team
·         Relax and Be yourself

My top tips:
disclaimer – these come from a newly qualified OT with minimal interviewing experience

  • Use EXAMPLES – even if they are not ‘OT’ – if they can apply use them, but don’t go overboard
  • READ the job description and person specification – they may provide hints as to what will be asked and they tell you what is expected from you
  •  ASK questions – show that you are interested in this job by having the questions prepared and written down in a notepad
  • Be PREPARED not just for potential questions but take a CPD folder ( I was asked if there was anything I was particually proud of) and be prepared for the unexpected (I was given a written senario to complete)

Good luck to you in your applications and when you get that interview – I wish you all the best and there will be a time when the right role is in your grasp.

My thanks to the following twitter-using OTs

UPDATE - should add the job for which I used this information to prepare, I didn't actually get as I fell down on a few details but all good experience nonetheless 

Monday, 12 September 2011


Firstly thanks to everyone who has read my last blog post about the quest for a professional identity – it has generated some great responses. It has really proven that this issue is very widespread and opinions are very much split – and this is on an international scale not just isolated to the UK. Defining our identity as occupational therapists is something which I feel incredibly strongly about – it is my belief this will be pivotal in our profession’s long-term survival. We must together have a clear and unified message about who we are as OTs, what we stand for and how we stand out.

Stepping aside from this for a moment, I just want to say sorry for my lack of blogging in the past few weeks – believe me there are good reasons one of which will become apparent in the next post. August has been a bit hectic, but have developed a few ideas about some potential blog posts, which I shall be working on to get them out to you. For now though I will leave you with this video (there are many of these and you may have seen it already, but I first saw on my first placement and loved it – useful promotional tool)....

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