Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Bugger... Bugger... Bugger...

I've screwed up - big time. And I am sorely regretting my actions not to mention my attitude.

A fortnight ago, my lecturers put us into groups of five to work on our intervention plans for one case study. Each group had to produce only one intervention plan.
In the first week, everyone was putting all of their effort into our physiology/dysfunction exam which was comming up. Now my way of relaxing is reading, so in my spare moments I read through and made notes on all the suggested article readings. It wasnt boring at all - in fact really interesting and I saw the case in a new light (I previously thought it looked too hard).

The following week, the group all got together to discuss the short term and long term goal we would make and some ideas for the intervention plan. There was only three of us there I think. I statrted getting really frustrated with some because I had all these ideas as well as all the rationale to support the ideas but no one took them because they didnt understand how they were relevant. I asked them if they read the suggested readings and no they hadnt (at that time). This really annoyed me as I really wanted to get on with it and plan as soon as possible.
At this stage, I made the mistake of thinking only my knowledge and understanding was superior - BIG MISTAKE. To this day I still think my ideas were really decent, I just didnt include the ideas of the others. Sure they were initially behind me in the reading department, but what I didnt realise was that they caught up and all understood the synthesis between the model and the plan a lot better than I did.

One thing that still annoys me though is that all of our communication was shit. We all agreed before the weekend that we would work on our sections of the intervention plan. My bit was getting more rationale quotes. We would then forward these improvements via email and have the end product ready for Monday morning to be handed in. My internet crashed on the weekend so I didnt get mine done til Sunday evening which worried me a bit cos I thought everyone would think I ditched them. I got my emails working and found that no one emailed me anything. The plan was due in the next morning at 9am and I was really worried and slightly angry at the possibility that the others had left me to do the entire writeup. One key mistake I did here was sent out an emergency email (around midnight) asking everyone to meet me at the pc suite first thing in the morning to sort the paperwork out. Of course no one read their emails that morning and didnt come in til 9am. So with one other member, I wrote out the whole intervention plan from memory of what I thought we had agreed on the previous week. I did the whole thing and boy was I pissed off when I got to class.

The others didnt finish their plan til later Monday afternoon. About 6 hours after the due date, I wasnt involved at all (mainly cos I was so pissed off). I didnt realise at the time that the other members were just as pissed off at me for handing a separate one in.

The next day after I had calmed down and learned that everyone was pissed off I apologised to the group and tried to explain why I had done what I did without accusing anyone. We managed to ask to lecturer to get mine back to check if they were similar. Because we werent technically allowed to change the plan I had handed in, another member and myself quickly perused the two and realised they werent too different and that mine would be kept but would have some things added to it. I thought my plan still went along pretty well with theirs so I kept the majority of it in. No one knew this as we were under a really stressful time constraints not to mention a suspicious glare fro the teacher, therefore we didnt have time to bring the whole team together to go over it.

Today we all sat together and talked over the plan. I found out that their ideas were more specific than mine but didnt flow with the plan I had handed in. Boy did I have to do some minor grovelling. We sorted out what we were going to say tomorrow at the viva but we all decided that I would be left up to explaining the screw up in the last section of the treatment plan.

I know, that the majority of the fault here is mine. I accept that mistake and take responsibility for it. But I feel like some of this was screwed up because
  • I did earlier readings. And no one understood my explanations from this research.
  • The whole weekend thing was a fiasco - part of that was out of my power and I do not think I should be persecuted for taking action against the disorganization of other members.
  • Not everyone turned up to meetings/tutorials.
This is really depressing for me and a real eye opener into my attitude of groups. At this point I must say quite honestly that I am a fiercely independent person. I do work well with others really well so long as their personality and way of explaining things are similar to my own.
I know I know... Not good future OT material but I working on it. For some reason (and please take my word for this) I am way better at this sort of thing in placements. I like hierarchies, and I like working with older professionals who I know will listen to me early on in the process and will take on board my suggestions.
At polytech a lot of the time I feel very verbally incompetent. Dont get me wrong I am a confident speaker, its just others not understanding what I'm talking about. This sometimes happens in my personal life as well but never on placement. Why the hell cant I be understood like this all the time??!!

Now I'm off to study for that viva tomorrow - so help me God.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More supervisor stories

Ok before I about another supervisor horror story I thought I might remind others out there that I actually have to write about these topics in my "Collaboration and Consultation" tutorial and in order to pass a section of the paper I have to provide personal reflection from any medium. And whatever past issues I talk about, I know my peers will most likely write about what I say too and their feelings about it.

So please dont shoot me if you think this blog is getting too negative. I only have to do two more stories then I'll talk about other stuff.

The second story I will talk about is from a class mate of mine, who told us of the relationship she had with her supervisor in her first placement. The setting was an acute neurology ward and her supervisor was a new grad male OT.
Her supervisor specifically said to her in the first week that she was only expected to observe - nothing more.
The student knowing she was inexperienced readily agreed. However, when she went up on the the ward with him later on to do an initial interview, she felt uncomfortable about a few things.
Firstly, when the patient was in bed, the supervisor before doing anything else pulled the curtains around and allowed the student to come in and watch.
After not introducing the student to the patient the student at this point instantly noticed the worried/upset facial expression on the patients face and explained that she was an OT student and that she was here to observe if that was alright with her.
The patient relaxed and allowed this, however the student's supervisor asked the student to step outside the ward with him and talk.
They went to a private room where he allegedly said "I am so pissed off at you right now!!" using aggressive body language. He discussed his extreme disappointment in the student in not following what they had agreed on. The student didnt say much due to shock (and wanting to cry) and being inexperienced and not wanting to cause a rift with her supervisor apologised and returned back to the office without him. Afterwards the student said that their relationship was somewhat strained. The supervisor didnt apologise for yelling at her, and although the student related this incidence onto a trusted student peer who encouraged her to talk to either her supervisor or someone more superior about the issue - she didnt. After a while, the students emotions were mixed. She felt she had still done nothing wrong and that he was being unfair but at the same time was highly embarrassed by the events and due to her insight into her minimal experience wondered if he was right or if there was something polytech had forgotten to teach her, or something else that influenced the experience that she should have known about.

When my classmate finished relating this story we then delved deeper in with our questions.
(While trying not to give her advice).

I remember asking her
Due to your improved placement experiences, if you had that same experience again how would you have handled it differently?

The student replied that she would have stood up for herself more with her supervisor. She now believes that she did nothing wrong and that she was actually using good initiative by noticing the clients stress and acting on it positively for the patients benefit. She also added that further on the the placement she noticed a few negative personality traits and learning styles of her supervisor which clashed with her own. This she feels backed up her belief that he was being very unprofessional with her by speaking aggressively to her and making her want to cry. And also disregarding the patients basic need for communication (which she also witnessed him doing more than once).
The teacher then replied that she would have been fully in her right to lay a complaint against him for his behavious toward him even if she was in the wrong.

Another student asked her - Do you think the planning for you observing a client with your supervisor was clear?

The student replied, at the time yes. But by the look of the way we both handled it, it was obvious that we didnt communicate fully our expectations. She related that she didnt realise then that introducing herself to a client was an important exception she had to make with her supervisor but said that she felt it was irrational for her supervisor to assume without asking her that she was expected not to say literally anything to patients. She said she felt that, given a ward was a very unprivate setting and that some acutely ill patients would reject a student without proper explanation, she felt it was her responsibility to reassure and gain the patients consent.

My thoughts

I completely empathised with the predicament my classmate went through and fully understood her initial fear and worry of causing more serious issues with her supervisor. As a first year we know full well of how much we dont know and that we place our full trust in our supervisor 99% of the time (unless you're an extremely brainy and assertive 1st year). I agreed with her statements fully and felt that even though she was in the majority of the right she still took accountability for the situation. I think that as a first year, if issues like that crop up, sometimes not knowing how to respond are normal. The fear and worry I think is again normal for that phase in our personal growth and growth as an OT student.
Personally, when I was a first year I was very assertive (not arrogant) and I remember regularly standing up for myself against peers and even a past supervisor. But I consider, that this student was not the same first year as I was. I do not know what her underlying temperament at that point in time. Maybe she considered herself confident but out of shock of the verbal abuse she received she closed up. Finally, I agreed with the student when she said that knowing how to treat others and being aware of their perceptions and attitudes is not just important for client relationships but student-supervisor relationships as well.