Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?"

When I first started this blog in June, I was interested in enlightening internationally trained OT's on the development of OT in Egypt. My hope was that OT's would contact me about providing their services to the Egyptian population. Well, over the past 5 months I have received many wonderful emails from OT's interested in working in Egypt.

So, the dilemma becomes, "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" An organization can not have an OT department without OT's, but how do international OT's develop OT departments within Egypt? Is it expected that OT's simply re-locate to Egypt in the hope of developing services within organizations (i.e. hospitals, schools, clinics, community based programs etc.) or do these organizations need to request the services of OT's?

Hence, my writing this entry.

Now that there is a developing awareness from international OT's regarding the need for their services within Egypt, we need more Egyptian organizations willing to hire these therapists to develop programs.

Who would I like to hear from?
  • Egyptian organizations who have an understanding of how their organization can benefit from OT services and want to hire OT's to develop OT programs.
  • Egyptian organizations that would like to know more about what OT is and how their specific population in need may benefit from hiring OT's to develop OT programs.

There is now a small, but growing number, of therapists working and living in Cairo that can provide organizations with further information about OT.

What are some examples of specific organizations in Egypt that may benefit from OT programs?
  • Occupational Therapists are part of the rehabilitation team, so every hospital within Egypt that already has a physiotherapy department should also have an occupational therapy department....and if there are no rehabilitation services offered within the hospital, then perhaps there should be. OT's have great organizational skills and can also initiate the development of a rehabilitation unit within hospitals.
  • Occupational Therapists are part of the mental health team, so every psychiatric hospital and/or clinic within Egypt can benefit from the services of an OT. They work alongside psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, recreational, music and art therapists. OT's have a tremendous understanding of the psychological benefits of performing meaningful activities.
  • Occupational Therapists are part of the educational team, so every school within Egypt should have the services of an OT. There are plenty of children with special needs who attend mainstream schools and who are struggling without support. Why should they struggle within a mainstream school if they can be provided support within school to be successful and stay in that school? It is foolish to believe that children with special needs only go to "special schools." Perhaps it is true that there are only a few schools in Egypt who specialize in treating these children, but that does not mean that children with special needs do not exist in mainstream schools.
  • Occupational Therapists are part of the community team. OT's specialize in assessing and adapting a person's environment in order to facilitate participation in functional every day tasks. OT's can assess a person's home, work environment, and community for safety and make recommendations for modifications and equipment needed for person's with special needs.
So, perhaps if you are a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, physiotherapist, administrator and/or educator you may be a part of an organization within Egypt that can benefit from an OT on your team.

I would be thrilled to hear from some organizations and would like to be able to provide the link between the organization and international OT's.



sahar said...

it is great from you to do this effort , so that people will know how important is OT

sue hartshorne said...

Hi Laura
It certainly is a dilemma and its hard to know how to advise ots from outside Egypt about coming to work.
I think its important for ots to be realistic about their expectations - why Egypt? And what do you need as far as resources and support? Are you here for the short or the long term - how can you build sustainability if you are only here for a few months or a year?
Consider that although the cost of living is low, as a foreigner you will find yourself paying a bit more than an Egyptian for rent, transport, etc. And while your primary job may not pay a lot, as you develop networks among your Egyptian colleagues, you will find exciting opportunities to do additional work that will bring you additional experience and funds.
Its important for intending employers to consider these things too. And its great that this blog is available to contextualise whats happening with ot in this country and to stimulate discussion.
I love living here and am so appreciative of Egyptian generosity and hospitality. There are amazing oportunities and this is a very exciting time to be an occupational therapist here. I love my work although sometimes I think I need a few more hours in the day - but so do all health professionals here.
susan hartshorne
WFOT Ambassador
to the Egypt Project