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Old 18.01.2011, 18:48
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Occupational Therapist seeking job [job suggestions!]

Hello everyone

I am a Occupational Therapist who has recently moved to Switzerland. I qualified in the UK 3 years ago.

Since qualifiction I worked in London. I spent all of my time working with older people. For the past almost two years I have been working in mental health mainly in the community with people with cognitive disorders, mainly dementia.

I would really love to work as an OT in Switzerland. However my own investigations to date have suggested that I will need to have French ( moving to Vaud area) at a very good level. ( Not sure what it is exam wise , but fluent I suspect).

Does anyone know any English speaking OTs working in the Geneva/ Vaud area? If so,what kind of jobs are they in?

I am desperate to continue my career as an OT as I love it so much. Can anyone suggest any other employer or other roles that I could consider doing whereby I could utilise my skills, particularly working with the older generation?

I have been told that the only likely career options open to me are teaching. I was a qualified teacher ( not English , but I have two years experiencing of teaching English in Asia), however I do not want to return to teaching as I did not find it rewarding and would much prefer a career in mental health or general health care.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions


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Old 19.01.2011, 19:50
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Re: Occupational Therapist seeking job [job suggestions!]


I am not an Occupational Therapist, but I am an outpatient at a psychiatric hospital in Vaud (Prangins), where I attend what I understand is the equivalent of occupational therapy twice a week.

The therapists are called ergothéraputes (ergothérapie). They run 'ateliers' (workshops) which in- and outpatients attend, by appointment. There are a limited number of places per workshop. The focus is on learning and developing practical and creative skills (the three workshops are graphic - silk painting, encaustic wax, collage etc. - ceramic and the 'general' workshop, which includes wood work, metal work, work with plastic, fimo, jewellery making... it's very varied). Some patients only come while they are in hospital and it seems to be more of an occupational tasks. Others, like me, have found that they have learnt new skills and interests, and are encouraged to develop these, for example by preparing craft work to sell at the Christmas market, or by collecting paintings or other craft work for an exhibition.

In addition to this, the therapists will work one-to-one with some patients, in consultation with their doctor. For example, mine works with me on organising my time and on developing my social skills.

I don't know if that is the kind of role you were thinking of... I do know that there are ergothérapists working in many different areas.

This is the official website: http://www.ergotherapie.ch/index.cfm?Nav=11&js=1

In terms of getting your qualifications recognised, I don't know for certain, but when I was trying to get my teaching qualification recognised here, I had to go through a very complicated process which took over a year (and was never successfully finalised).

First I had to apply for equivalency of my qualification with the Swiss qualification. This involved filling out forms, submitting certified copies of all my certificates and writing a letter - all in French of course. It was also quite a costly business - several thousand francs. In my case, my employer paid.

It took us several tries to find out who was the right authority to submit the application to, which complicated the process.

Then I was told that I had been granted provisional equivalency, but that I had to fulfill two additional requirements. The first was to gain certification of my French competency. I was working as the English speaking teacher in a bilingual pre-school, but I was told that despite the fact that my work would be in English I had to gain a B2 level of French. If I had wanted to work with French speakers, it would have been C2 (the highest level). Second, I was told I would have to take a course and an examination in how the Swiss system worked - in French. I never got to this stage because I fell ill. The school that would have administered this is the same school that trains ergothéraputes, so I imagine a similar condition would apply to you.

On the positive side, I often see jobs advertised, so there might well be work for you!

Hope that helps.
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