Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Tomas Flanagan from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:


Tomas Flanagan

Occupational Therapist

St. Michael's House

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  Tomas Flanagan

I would advise anyone interested in Occupational Therapy to read up on the profession or else try to meet a qualified Occupational Therapist and talk to them about their work.

The internet can be a great resource in getting information. Also information from the universities might indicate if this is a course that is suited to you. A lot of the course work relies on you being a self-directed learner. This makes the course different to other more mainstream/academic courses as the onus is on the student to complete a lot of work independently.

As this is a caring profession an interest in working with people is a must. You also need to be a good communicator as you will be working closely with clients, families and other staff on an ongoing basis.

Organisational skills are essential to enable you to manage a caseload.


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Adult Learner

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Non-Classroom Courses

The options for learning in non-classroom settings, has increased dramatically over the past few years. Distance, online, flexible and blended education allows a learner to study at a time and place that suits their own lifestyle.

These courses can cover all Ed Zones, and so arn't classified like the other courses.

Before engaging in any form of distance, online, flexible or blended learning; check the course cost and qualification.

Distance education is learning where you do not have to attend a physical location at fixed times throughout the academic year. Open learning, on-line learning and distance learning all qualify as types of distance education. The main advantage of this type of learning is that it can be combined with home life and work commitments.

On-line learning is where the whole programme is delivered over the Internet, notes are posted on the web, assignments are e-mailed between students and tutors, students set up chat rooms between each other etc.

Flexible learning provides learners with opportunities for more choice, convenience, and personalisation to suit the learner. It also recognises that different students have different learning preferences and requirements. Flexible learning courses might include using different modes of delivery for course materials, including web-based, CDs, DVDs and so on.

Blended learning refers to a mix of different learning environments. This approach to teaching and learning combines traditional face to face classroom methods with more modern computer-mediated activities. This strategy creates a more integrated approach for both instructors and learners.

Why choose distance education?

  • Personal commitments mean you don’t have time to attend classes or lectures
  • The course you are interested in is only offered at a time when you are at work
  • You live too far or don’t have transport to get to classes or lectures
  • No organisation locally offers the course you want to study

As a learner you need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages to this type of learning. e.g. you can study at your own pace, and you can combine study with domestic and work commitments, on the other hand you need to be very disciplined and allocate appropriate time for your studies and there is very little social contact.

What are the entry requirements?

Entry requirements vary depending on the institution concerned. Many web-based e-learning institutions base their entry requirements solely on interest, while others base entry on standard criteria. Check with the relevant institution for entry requirements.

Find Distance Learning courses on QualifaxTo find a distance course visit
  Hint: Intel
Training is always an ongoing agenda item - we even have it listed as a default priority item in our official schedule here. It may be of the form of online classes, or classes in-house where the company brings in professional trainers/lecturers to give classes and information talks; or it may involve traveling to attend a class specifically tuned to your next objective. For example, my next class is a two day session about digital electronics, which will be pertinent to my current programming project. On average training in some form or other occurs about 3 or 4 times a year.
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