Interview with Victoria Dudman, Occupational Therapist

Vicky Dudman

Our latest interview in our Q&A series is with Victoria Dudman, Senior Occupational Therapist, Broomfield Hospital. We ask Victoria about her role, experience and what her working day consists of.

What lead you to take up a career as an Occupational Therapist?

As far back as I can remember I was interested in working in healthcare. I spent some time in my teenage years shadowing different professionals and Occupational Therapy seemed to suit my personality and outlook. I liked the holistic perspective and the potential for working in different environments and with different client groups.

How long have you worked in the field of burns? What made you choose it as a specialism?

I have worked in Burns and Plastic Surgery for 14 years. I was fortunate that I fell into the area by chance and have not looked back. I enjoyed a student placement in Hand Therapy within the same team and although I did not wish to specialise in Hands I was keen to return to the team itself.

Did you have to do special training to treat burns patients?

My basic Occupational Therapy training prepared me for assessing patients’ functional abilities and grading activities as a form of rehabilitation. However, the majority of the skills I use today have been learned ‘on the job’; through mentorship, trying new techniques, liaison with colleagues, researching etc…

What would a “normal” day look like for you?

It is very difficult to describe a normal day. One of the things that I love about my job is the variety, both in terms of the different patients that I treat and the different environments in which I work.

Although I spend periods of time working on the Burns ITU, burns rehabilitation wards (either adult or paediatric) or plastic surgery wards, my favourite area to work is in the Burns Outpatient Department. Here I might assess scars, provide scar treatments (including hands on massage and scar mobilisation), look at patient’s movement, strength and function. I offer support and education and often act to signpost other services.

Do you ever work off-site?

My outpatient work also includes working in our nursing and therapy led Outreach team. We can visit patients who find it difficult to attend the regional burns centre, for example if they are unwell and an in-patient at another hospital or in prison or a psychiatric unit. We can also visit schools, workplaces or patients in their own homes. It can be very useful to offer support and education to other people involved in the patient’s burn care. We also run a dressings and therapy satellite clinic which again can reduce the distance that patients travel for their appointments.

What would you say is the most satisfying part of your job?

I love to see patients returning to their everyday lives. It is also very rewarding to be able to see paediatric patients throughout their childhoods, growing into young adults and how they deal with their burn injury.

Do you have any involvement with the British Burn Association or other professional organisations?

I am currently on the Executive Committee of the British Burn Association. Also, under the umbrella of the BBA I have been secretary for the Burn Therapy Interest Group for the past 3 years and from May 2018 I will be Chair of the Prevention Subcommittee. I feel privileged to be able to participate in these national groups and feel that it is important for there to be representation from different aspects of the multidisciplinary team.

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