Rebecca and Jannices experiences from India

Rebecca Nilsson and Jannice Meyer traveled to India via a MSF grant to study how occupational therapists work.
For eight weeks, they visited three private hospitals in Delhi and made a total of 30 interviews, which will result in an essay in the spring.
The trip provided an opportunity to live as Indian students and to experience a totally different work culture and way of working as an occupational therapist.

Both Rebecca and Jannice had no expectations of how the trip would turn out.
- We decided that we would go there with open minds. Then we would not be disappointed, says Jannice.

They describe India as a country with a lot of people, traffic, noise and smells.
As soon as they went out to the street, they were fed with different sensations.

No laws or obligations

They got a quick introduction of the city and how the subway system worked, then they could to get to work.
- The city is incredibly big and we had a commuting time of two hours one way, so it was really long days. We managed to make two interviews a day, says Rebecca.

The interviews were based around seven broad themes, but the idea was that interviewees would describe and talk about their work. The difference that they discovered was that in India they put great emphasis on improving the function itself after an injury or accident.
- Instead we have focuse on the activity as exercise, what activities require the person to perform daily and how can it be perfomed, said Jannice.

Another major difference was that they have no obligation to document and implement privacy.
- Sometimes we did not really understand eachother. Our approach is very different. They have no laws or obligations, and they talk openly about patients, says Rebecca.

Continue to be critical

Although the approach is very different from how occupational therapists work in Sweden considers Jannice and Rebecca that they've got a great understanding of how other countries work and how i was in Sweden in the 80s.
- It feels like two different professions. In Sweden there has been a shift in focus from function to activity for occupational therapists. It is important to always continue to be critical and questioning why we do things a certain way, says Rebecca.

Lived a controlled student life

They lived in a boarding school with around 500 Indian students. There was a lot of rules to relate to, for example they had to be inside the campus before the seven on weekdays and before six o'clock on the weekends.
- Everything was very controlled and managed and we felt very limited, says Jannice.

If they wanted to do something at night, they had to apply for a permit and present a certificate at the campus gates.

Strengthened by the experience

Both Rebecca and Jannice think they have had experiences that are good to have throughout their lifes. The experience has led them to appreciate the security of Sweden and the opportunity to go to their boss if they have a problem.
- It has also strengthened us to take on new challenges. We believe more in ourselves and have got a distance to our own problems. Of course you should go if there is a chance, says Rebecca.

[http://www.ltu.se/edu/program/FVATG/Nyheter-och-aktuellt/Blogg-Studerar-arbetsterapeuter-i-Indien-1.87770?l=en]

Published: 10 April 2012

Luleå University of Technology