We’re about to start embarking on fieldwork this semester as part of the OT course. We each go to three locations once; a hospital, an aged care home, and an Independent Living Centre. Initially I was quite excited at the opportunity. I suppose I still somewhat am. But after yesterday’s lecture and tutorial, I am also rather nervous and apprehensive about it. Questioning if I really am suited to becoming an OT or not.
The lecturer brought up that there are a number of us who are more confident and assertive and others who are more shy, quiet and reserved. Guess which category I fit into and which I’d like to fit into? He had one piece of advice for those of us who think we may be more of the shy, reserved type. I leaned forward in my chair, ready to take in what he had to say. “Get over it,” were his exact words. Great. Thanks for that. As people started chuckling (probably the confident ones I’d say), the lecturer exclaimed to us, “I’m serious.” We were advised to seek help from the university counselling service or contact the lecturers of the School of OT to learn more assertiveness, but essentially to ‘get over it.’ The importance of being able to communicate well as an OT was emphasised to us as ‘all we do is talk.’ We were warned about third years who were terminated from fieldwork because they just couldn’t communicate.
I find it very difficult to speak up and offer my views or ask questions for the fear of appearing completely stupid and foolish, utterly wrong, being told off because I should know this, or being reprimanded for not studying enough because I don’t know something. That’s when I have something to say. A lot of the time I don’t. Really, I don’t posses the wit and quick mindedness that I so envy in other people and am in awe of. When fired with a question they hit right back with a confident and long enough answer that flows. Me? I stutter and stumble, um and ahh through a response which consist of a jumble of words that only half make sense. That’s when I’m asked a question. When queried as to whether I have any questions for them, I usually shake my head no. I lack confidence, I’m passive and meek, and afraid of asking something they’ve already explained/I should already know. The other reason then is again, I don’t have that ability to think on the spot and so don’t have intelligent questions formed in my mind.
I’m starting to question my suitability as an OT when I have such poor verbal communication skills. Not to mention we’ll also have to do manual handling, being able to push clients up or down a stair. A challenge for me; a small-built, weak Asian girl. Another hurdle we’ve been advised we must “get over [it],” as said by our tutor, quoting the aforementioned lecturer.