Aileen Ryan – BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy

BSc Hons Occupational Therapy graduate, Aileen Ryan
A 24-year-old from County Tipperary, Ireland, who crossed the Irish Sea with the aspiration of becoming a clinical leader in occupational therapy, has graduated from the Scottish University of the Year 2021.

Aileen Ryan took to Robert Gordon University’s (RGU’s) virtual graduation stage to accept her Bachelor of Science with Honours degree in Occupational Therapy in front of a live, global audience of family, alumni, peers, and new friends on Friday 16 July. 

“I’ve finally come to the end of my degree and the hard work has paid off,” said Aileen. “The last year has been challenging but also rewarding. Moving away from home to study abroad initially made me nervous, but I never could have imagined that I would finish my degree in the middle of a pandemic. 

“I loved my time at RGU. We’re so fortunate to have so many opportunities, and there’s a culture throughout the university that encourages you to get involved and find something you’re passionate about.” 

Aileen was inspired into the person-centred career path by the occupational therapist who supported her grandmother in her advanced years. 

“I always knew I wanted to work with people, and from a young age I was veering towards healthcare,” said Aileen. “I was amazed with what the occupational therapist was able to do to give my grandmother increased independence towards the end of her life. Occupational therapists focus on a patient’s values and beliefs—it’s a very person-centred profession. 

“I chose to study RGU’s occupational therapy course because it’s accredited by the Health & Care Professions Council, allowing graduates to become legally-registered occupational therapists and work in the NHS or privately.” 

The interactive nature of the course helped Aileen to both succeed in and enjoy her studies through many workshops, tutorials, practical sessions, and placements that prepared her for the multi-disciplinary future of occupational therapy. 

Aileen adds: “The course was a really interactive experience. We were encouraged to participate in inter-professional learning experiences to work with, and learn about, other health professionals throughout our four years. Our practice placements were organised with the aim of giving each student a wide range of experience in as many different practical settings as possible, which also really helps to prepare you for the inter-professional world of practice.  

“I really enjoyed my course. I liked the regular in-class support from the Careers department as well as the regular guest lecturers from various fields and potential employers—including NHS Grampian, previous students, and third-sector groups.” 

Aileen had crossed the Irish Sea to get her higher education and used sport to help her socialise, grow an important network of friends, and engage in valuable new experiences. 

“Throughout my four years, I was a member of RGU GAA (Gaelic Football) club,” said Aileen. “Engaging in sport within the university provided a sense of community, which I now acknowledge has supported my development. Sporting activities provide a freedom and an escape to engage in exercise while also participating with friends within an active environment. 

“When making the decision to study abroad, I was aware I would require a sport to engage with. Little did I know of the benefits that Gaelic football would have for me throughout my years at university.” 

With a degree in occupational therapy from RGU, that is rated second in Scotland by the Complete University Guide 2021 and first in the UK for overall health professions, Aileen has the flexibility to discover several career paths.  

Aileen adds: “Throughout my undergraduate, I have benefitted from many inspirational occupational therapists who have shared their knowledge and expertise. I look forward to building a strong clinical foundation, and I aspire to follow in their footsteps to become a clinical leader with influence to shape our profession.” 

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