Belinda van der Merwe, occupational therapist

By admin
10 May 2014

Belinda van der Merwe

Name and surname:

Belinda van der Merwe (27)

Where did you study?

University of Pretoria

What did you study and for how long?

A bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy. It’s a four-year course, after which you have to do a year of community service to be able to register with the Health Professions Council as an independent practitioner.

Where are you from?

Pretoria originally, but I now live in Cape Town.

Why did you choose occupational therapy?

I’ve always felt for people who were cast out because they’re different, in whichever way, and wished I could make a difference in their lives.

How long have you been working in this field?

This is my fifth year.

What are the perks and downfalls of this career?

Perks: You get paid for helping and working with people.  As people are unique, every case has new challenges and you seldom get bored. It’s a wide field and has many opportunities.

Downfalls: Factors outside of your control, for example not having enough resources to help patients in the government sector or patients who are unable to attend therapy due to depleted medical aids (in the private sector).

Which personality traits would suit this career?

You have to be passionate about helping people, think creatively, be excellent at problem-solving and be able to voice your opinion.  You should be adaptable and comfortable with 1+2 not equalling 3.

Generally speaking how good is remuneration?

It depends on the field you work in (paediatrics, psychiatry, community and so forth), whether you work in the private or public sector, your years of service and whether you own your own practice or work for someone else. You might not become rich, but earn enough to make a living.

What advice do you have for prospective occupational therapists?

Studying occupational therapy is a journey with ups and downs and sometimes you want to give up, however if you keep going you’ll end up with a deeper understanding of yourself, others and the world.

What subjects do you need to study occupational therapy?

The admission criteria have changed over the years, however it seems you have to have maths, then either physical science or biology would be an advantage.

How would you rate job satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 10?

8/10 (some days 6/10 others 10/10)

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