Welcome students!

You're in the right place for info, ideas and links- scroll down to wherever you're at: writing papers, doing projects, practice placements, participation in OOFRAS Inc & preparation for work with refugees after graduation.

Over the years, it's been wonderful to see one type of student engagement unfold into another - many of the most active OOFRAS members who serve on the board or work with refugees can trace back to a paper or project in student days.

Whether you end up working in a refugee service or not, we're happy to help wherever you are at because we're confident that engaging with the underlying practice issues makes you a better practitioner whoever you go on to serve. 

Papers & Projects

Writing papers

We want to learn about occupational experiences along a refugee journey because we're hoping to build on the self-healing use of occupation in intervention if there are occupational problems.

Here's some occupation orientated topic ideas to get you started, although once you're reading you'll soon have many more!

  • Explore one occupational role eg parenting or work, and the impact of environment or disability
  • Explore occupations used to survive and re-claiming a life eg refugee narratives
  • Explore pilot projects aiming to make health services more accessible and workers more competent

There is occupational info out there, you just need to use an occupational lens to synthesise it. You might also draw on a wider range of information sources. Here's 25 tips for finding info

OOFRAS has started a public research group on Mendeley, a reference management system which is free, social, browser based, and Endnote etc-friendly. Best of all you can contribute references too! It's a work in progress and you can visit the research group with reference list and tell us what you think!

When synthsising info; occupation is your compass. Prompt questions include:

  • Does it describe the place, performance or patterns of doing?
  • Does it describe thr form, function, meaning of doing?
  • How does the doing in that context relate to the being, becomming, belonging? 
  • Does it describe an occupational context or enviromnental enabler/barrier? 
  • What are the connections with wellbeing, health, inclusion? 
  • Does it highlight lost roles, changed roles, new roles? 
  • Has it talked about occupational elements or consequences of distress? 
  • Can you identify person, occupation, environment variables that work or help?

Now you have hard won information that would be wasted left on a USB stick instead of shared with your OT comdrades and future OT students who can build on your work. So share it with OOFRAS -please!

  • Thanks to Sally Datson, Crissy Hubbard, Jess McGarrigle, Karen Smibert 2004 report "Addressing the needs of newly arrived refugees; An occupational therapy perspective"
  • If you're thinking about or want to share research check out the researchers page.

Doing projects

A project establishes a relationship with a centre, the workers, and the refugees and asylum seekers it serves. Doing this successfully can feel challenging - because it is! We can't overstate how important it is to "stay with" the discomfort of the unknown and the complexity. Tolerating this means you can reason through to a contextually appropriate and effective OT intervention.

After all, the odds are the centre is outside the familiar "health & disability" sector, and the cross-cultural communication begins with the workers who may not share a clinical background. If you're comfortable with "bed numbers and diagnosis" directing your work rather than the simplicity of occupational needs, you might find it hard not to jump at the first 1:1 impairment intevention you think up. You might need to find your voice explaining occupational perspectives and priorities.

Tolerating not knowing will help guard against the project becoming less OT (in an attempt to feel more certain as an OT) and students are invited to use OOFRAS as a sounding board via your local LINK, emailing the Directors or posting on Facebook Page.

Students sharing their projects

Practice Placements

Things to consider when exploring interest in doing a practice placement with refugees and asylum seekers, particularly if there are no obvious placement opportunities developed by previous students and university relationships with refugee sector.

Express interest to your university fieldwork co-ordinator and invite them to contact us early - OOFRAS can support a placement by connecting with students, university, superisor - but not replace this local engagement. Practice placements are about building local relationships between university and refugee services that endure beyond the one placement you're considering - start the conversation early as it takes time!

If you are looking for OT contacts in developing economies, network on the OTION discussion board (Occupational Therapy International Outreach Network).

Tell us about your practice placement with refugees and/or asylum seekers by jotting down info in our simple pop-up form!

Students and fieldwork co-ordinators alike will find Yvonne Thoma's and Tracey Preston's 2010 evaluation report insightful: "Evaluation of Placements in Multicultural Support Services: Evaluation of Innovative Placement Models". 

Student stories

  • Thanks to Renee Whiteside from James Cook University, Queensland AUSTRALIA for sharing about the Student Mentoring Program to assist youth with a refugee background transition to school and the world of computers!
  • Thanks to Emma Perrin & Siobhan Taylor from James Cook University, Queensland AUSTRALIA for sharing info about their 2010 placement at Townsville Multicultural Support Group Inc (TMSG) here, and Siobhan's reflections here
  • Thanks to Aakifah Suleman for her reflections on her 2009 placement and where it lead!
  • Thanks to Paul Lamprecht for an innovative 2007 placementat a refugee transition school and our report
  • Thanks to Mia Robinson for exploring refugee work on a 2006 placement and sharing your reflections

International opportunities

Fieldwork blending OT & Anthropology is an exciting international placement opportunity for 2011.

News Flash from Division of Occupational Therapy in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA - they are now offering a Level II Fieldwork experience in refugee resettlement to students from outside the state of Utah. 

For the past six years students from the Division of Occupational Therapy have been participating in fieldwork education in Salt Lake City providing life skills training for newly arrived refugees.  These newcomers to America come from a wide range of countries including Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Burma and most recently Iraq.

Occupational therapy students teach classes and provide services to individuals and families at two community centers located within apartment complexes where many recently resettled refugees live and with the local office of the International Rescue Committee.  Activities students are involved in include training in the use of public transportation, home maintenance, financial management and pre-employment

Students are also involved in facilitating participation in the preservation of cultural heritage such as working with Karen women from Burma who are weavers and are working toward starting their own businesses. OT students have also provided treatment for children and adults with developmental or other disabilities that impact functional performance.

Opportunities for Level II fieldwork are available during Fall and Spring Semesters as well as Summer sessions. For more information contact Yda Smith at 801-585-9589 or yda.smith@hsc.utah.edu

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