Metropolitan College’s graduate shares her journey as an Occupational Therapist in the fight against coronavirus in London

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In 2017, Aimilia Zampeli graduated with distinction from BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy programme of study that is provided by Metropolitan College's School of Health Sciences, in collaboration with Queen Margaret University. Since October 2018, she has been working at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust. As an Occupational Therapist she offers help to patients who are hospitalized in Intensive Care Units, contributing to their physical and cognitive rehabilitation after coronavirus.

Recently, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust posted Aimilia’s Zampeli experience and the impact helping patients to recover from coronavirus has had on her.

On the occasion of this post, Metropolitan College’s graduate, Aimilia Zampeli, shares her personal experience on her studies at the BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy programme, the milestones and the accomplishments that defined her successful journey.

When did you graduate from Metropolitan College?
I was honoured to be one of the first Occupational Therapy graduates of Metropolitan College in Greece. I successfully graduated with first class degree, in July 2017.

How would you describe your experience during your attendance at Metropolitan College?

My desire to pursue a career in Occupational therapy stem from a very young age, so I soon set out goals to achieve my dream of becoming and Occupational Therapist. At first, the idea of studying abroad in Europe was very appealing. However, living by myself in a different country scared me. It was by chance that I came across a Metropolitan College advertisement for the Bachelor in Occupational Therapy, offered in collaboration with Queen Margaret University, that peeked my interest. I knew this was a really good opportunity.
During my time at Metropolitan College my classmates were very friendly, easy to bond with and able to provide peer support. Also having someone else on the same course and supporting each other through studies was a crucial factor to make lifelong friends. Both students and professors had to deal with different challenges but we finally, achieved to solve this issues as a team. When I graduated i felt a sense of accomplishment. Attending my graduation ceremony and receiving my degree was a life achievement, one that I will cherish forever.

In which way your degree helped you to pursue a career in the UK?
My initial goal was to find a job in Greece but then I decided to focus on using all the information and knowledge gained during the 4-year programme to pursue work in the UK. Under the guidance and support of Mrs. Gliki and Mr. Siaperas, both teachers at Occupational Therapy programme of study, the registration process with HCPC in UK became a lot easier. In September 2018 I was offered my first OT job in the London NHS hospital of my choice. The desire to achieve my life goals helped me to develop professionally and to adjust to a new healthcare system.

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"The progress my patients made within their 3-4 months’ stay was remarkable and inspiring, it gave me hope and made me thrive to work even harder. The best reward and most satisfying part of the entire journey was when they were being discharged. I got to escort my patients off the ward, as we walked through the hospital corridor to begin their journey home I felt their joy and walked proudly with them knowing how far they had come. Their ‘recovery journey’ had begun. I was bought to tears from heartfelt feedback and comments I received from patients and their relatives such as “you saved my life” or “you’re family now” it made the experience even more unique as it was all ‘our’ COVID journey."

How are you dealing with covid19 as a healthcare professional?
I have been working at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS TRUST for just under 2 years in an acute hospital on a rotational post covering areas such as, Accident and Emergency, Medical, Ortho/Surgical, Stroke/Neuro, Elderly Care.
No one was either practically or emotionally ready to deal with a pandemic. Being a healthcare professional during this time required to put personal insecurities and fears aside in order to respond to the crisis. For me personally, being away from family and close friends in Greece was the most difficult part.
During the pandemic I was upskilled to meet the demands of the service. I had to be adaptable and flexible in my approach to patient care in ITU through COVID. The rehabilitation programme I provide to my COVID patients is very much physical and cognition based. Inevitably I was infected too, but now I am healthy again. During my sessions, I drew on my personal experience and use this to give patients hope for recovery. Life experiences like this makes us reflect and redefine our priorities. I am grateful to be healthy and to be able to share my experience with others.

What is the biggest reward you receive as an OT?
There is something fulfilling when you are able to support patients along with members of the MDT, helping them to recover and return back to the community. The role I play in that journey is the most satisfying. What also keeps me motivated is the gratitude cards, gifts (chocolate boxes) and expressions of appreciation I receive from my patients and their families. The impact I may have on a patient and his family, the positive feedback and encouragement I receive from my colleagues and keep me motivated and increase my confidence at work.
I truly enjoy my routine and life in London. The quality of life is much better in comparison to the current situation in Greece. However, my dream is to return back to my country and be able to work as an Occupational Therapist in order to help the elderly population improving their quality of life in their last years.

Learn more about Metropolitan College's BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy programme of study