Celia Beyer

I like the variety of working with different people. I get to know people and develop a holistic picture of their life. Plus, there is a bit of problem-solving, and creative thinking involved to help people return to daily tasks and get home.

Hi Celia, thanks for your time. In a nutshell, what does a senior occupational therapist do?

Occupational Therapy is quite broad with lots of areas to work in. I work in a hospital where I help patients get back to what they want/need to do in their daily life (not just your job but any activities they do in their day to day life). We’ll look at things like how someone will get ready for their day in the morning, making a meal, getting about their house or going out shopping.

In what section of the hospital do you work?

I work in both the acute area of the hospital and the rehab ward. I help people who are experiencing difficulty with doing their daily tasks after a medical event. I work with all sorts of conditions such as a stroke, brain injury or hip replacement. I get to move around to different areas of the hospital as I am in a rotational position. I can also work in the community (visiting people in their homes), hand therapy and paediatrics.

What hospital do you work at?

I work at both Mersey Hospital at Latrobe, as well as Burnie Hospital. I work five days a week, from 8.00 to 4.30. I also get a rostered day off every fourth Friday.

What’s the best part of the job for you?

I like the variety of working with different people. I get to know people and develop a holistic picture of their life. Plus, there is a bit of problem-solving, and creative thinking involved to help people return to daily tasks and get home.

Can you give an example of where you feel you’ve had a positive outcome for the patient?

Sure. There’s one patient I worked with on a rehab ward who had a stroke. She had lost all movement down the left side of her body. I worked in a team with physiotherapists, speech pathologists, nurses and doctors to help increase her independence. We did lots of rehab work. I focused on therapy to get her arm moving in a way she could use it for daily tasks. She practiced doing tasks like showering and dressing herself. I completed a home visit with her and we modified her home environment to help her be independent. After a couple of months of working with her she was able to go back home. She had regained most of the function and could do her daily tasks independently.

Do you need to be a good listener to be a good occupational therapist?

Listening is very important. So along with understanding the medical aspect, you’ve got to have a caring personality. You want to find out what’s important to each patient, and what their goals are – you can only do that by listening attentively.

Are there more women than men who work as occupational therapists?

Females make up the majority of OTs at the moment. Having said that, I work with a couple of male OTs and they’re very much valued within our team.

Are there many jobs for occupational therapists in Tasmania?
There are, especially in the hospital system. And the demand for OTs is growing.

Would it be an easy move to work in private practice?

There are jobs out there in both private and public organisations for OTs so it would be easy. I have not worked privately but know there are lots of opportunities out there in lots of different areas of OT.

Do you need to go to university to become an occupational therapist?

Yes. It’s a four-year Bachelor Degree, or you can do a two-year Masters. There hasn’t been a Tasmanian course available, but the University of Tasmania are starting a Masters degree in 2025.

What attracted you to the profession?

I was not sure what to do after school. I wanted to combine my interest in science with helping people whilst still thinking creatively. I had a family member who was an OT and talked to them about it. The way they described it, how you can help get people to be independent appealed to me. I realised how important my independence was to me and thought it sounded like a special role to help someone to do what they wanted or needed to do.

What age were you when you started to think about it as a career option?

I was about 16 or 17. But I did take a year off after school as I was not sure what to do. I had a gap year and thought about it for quite some time and decided to give it a go. Once I started the degree, I realised that the philosophy of OT was a perfect fit for me.

What did you do in your gap year?

I went over to the UK, and I worked as a nanny. The break helped me to grow as a person. I decided that I did want to go back and study some more.

Do you remember what you liked about high school?
While I didn’t love the high school experience, I did enjoy learning.

Did you have a teacher who inspired you?

My ‘Materials and Design’ teacher. She was creative but had a lot of knowledge about the science behind materials. It was an interesting subject and a great way to be creative during the school day.

Do you remember how you coped with exam pressure?

Hmmm. Not very well. I did a bit of cramming. I used to go for walks with my dog and my mum down at the river. That would clear out the cobwebs, plus I used goals to motivate me.  In Year 12 I used my gap year as motivation.  I knew that once I finished my exams, I would go away, and I’d be exploring the UK.

Do you still use goals to motivate you?

I do. I still have things I want to achieve in my career. One goal is to return overseas and work as an OT. I also want to learn more about hand therapy and burns, and where OT treatment comes into that. I’m currently doing training in that area.

How did you end up working in Tassie?

I wanted to work in a hospital environment in a rotational position where I would get lots of different experiences. Then a permanent position in Tassie came up. I had family members who had visited recently and they said it was beautiful. So I thought, let’s give that a try. And it’s paid off. It’s allowed me to progress in my career and live in a great place.

Do you remember your first job?

I was a babysitter for family friends. I loved hanging out with kids and having fun.

What advice would you give someone in high school who doesn’t know what they want to do when they leave school?

You have time to figure it out. Taking a gap year was important to me and gave me time to work out what I wanted. I know plenty of people who came into OT a little bit later, after they had done something else, and it worked out great for them.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

On weekends, I like to go hiking with a bunch of friends and explore Tassie. I also like going out for good food and visiting wineries. I’m part of a book club and have a good group of friends there. I have a pretty good work/life balance.


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