How one resilient DC grad is making her mark in the OT community

When Alanna Veitch enrolled in the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant (OTA and PTA) program at Durham College (DC), she was solely focused on completing her diploma and securing a stable career. One year into the program, Alanna received a life-altering diagnosis that required her to refocus her plans and priorities for the future. Five years later, Alanna is now an editorial board member and co-editor of Occupational Therapy Now (OT Now). Reflecting on her time at DC, Alanna recognizes the impact her experiences have had on her development, and how she has applied them in her current role to support fellow OT colleagues and students.

Alanna shares how her experience at DC has led her to continue learning and provide mentorship in the OTA and PTA field in the interview below.

Can you tell us about your experience at DC?

I always knew I wanted to work in the health and community care field so the opportunity to attend Durham College and move closer to my twin sister – who was also enrolled at DC at the time – was very fitting. Shortly after graduating, I realized while I was a student, I was so focused on making it to graduation day, that I forgot to stop and appreciate how valuable the learning process can be. Since my diagnosis, my personal and professional experience in the rehabilitation field have prepared me to accept new changes, and led me to a deeper appreciation for continuous learning, and a greater understanding of the ways I can contribute to the OTA community.

How did you get involved with OT Now? How has DC’s OTA/PTA program prepared you for your role?

I was introduced to OT Now – the national practice magazine of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists – by Teresa Avvampato, one of DC’s OTA and PTA program co-ordinators. After graduating in 2016, I began to write about my experience navigating a diagnosis with a physical limitation while working as a rehabilitation assistant in the community. With Teresa’s support and mentorship, I submitted a personal perspective article to the magazine, which was published in the January/February 2018 issue.

Following my second published piece, I volunteered to co-edit the student perspective column, which piqued my interest in the writing, submission and editing processes, as well as the opportunity to help others share their knowledge. In the summer of 2019, I was formerly offered the position as co-editor and the following year I was welcomed as an editorial board member.

I am grateful for the support I have received from DC, especially Teresa, her fellow co-ordinator Laura Maybury and the rest of the college’s OTA and PTA faculty, who have been instrumental in supporting my journey.

Is there anything you would like to share with future prospective students about DC?

Try to be patient with yourself and follow your intuition. If there is something you hear, read or learn that resonates with you or sparks your curiosity, it is likely worth the investment of your time and energy. Good things often require both. I would also recommend connecting with faculty and staff in your program. The relationships I have built at DC have undoubtedly made me feel valued and supported in my community – which has been particularly comforting during this challenging year.