From opera to occupational therapy

From opera to occupational therapy

A student from the University of Cumbria has been given the opportunity to study full-time for a PhD at the prestigious Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

Opera singer, Sarah Wallcook from Arlecdon, Cumbria, graduated from Manchester University in 2014 with a degree in music. She had always enjoyed participating in the arts and seeing the positive impact it had on people with regard to their confidence levels and wellbeing. Sarah recognised that some of her artistic skills would be highly transferable to science based courses and subsequently she applied to study an MSc in Occupational Therapy at the University of Cumbria in 2014.   

Sarah found that her thesis for the master’s course, which investigated the role that technology plays in citizenship and its recognition by rural occupational therapists, had a direct correlation with a research post advertised at the Karolinska Institutet, which prompted her to apply. The new research - ‘Access and ability to use everyday technology among older adults with and without dementia across different countries’ - will give Sarah the opportunity to speak directly to clients and find out more about their experiences of using technology when experiencing cognitive problems. This will also help to inform future practice and the creation of environments that better fit the needs of people living with dementia.

The Karolinska Institutet, where Sarah will be a Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions fellow, is a one-faculty university dedicated solely to the health and life sciences, with the widest range of medical education in Sweden. It is consistently ranked in the top 50 universities globally, and the top 10 medical universities in Europe. It offers education held entirely in English, with an international focus. 

Sarah says “This is not an opportunity I ever expected to come my way and I'm so delighted and proud that my studies at the University of Cumbria have led to this. I studied occupational therapy because I wanted to make a positive difference and I really look forward to continuing on that journey with the specialist research team at Karolinska Institutet”.

After the research project is completed, Sarah’s ultimate ambition is to return home to Cumbria and use the experience, training and skills acquired to make a positive contribution to health care and society through the occupational therapy profession.

Dr Karen Morris, principal lecturer (rehabilitation) at the University of Cumbria said “We are very proud of Sarah for being awarded this exciting opportunity.  As a team, we take great pleasure in seeing how our pre-registration occupational therapy and physiotherapy programmes support graduates achieve their career aspirations in both practice and research fields”.