For Victoria Amu, an exceptional and a fulfilled Occupational Therapist, when it comes to attaining one’s dream in life, sky is just the beginning. In a chat with Oluwatosin Omoniyi, Amu advises that people, women especially, should recognise what they excel in and build on it, as that is what would lead them to their desired destinations
For the women out there, Amu believes there should not be limitations to one’s vision because “women are the strongest. They can do anything they set out their minds to do. They should bring out their kitchen skills to better the society. Women are known achievers; as such, they should go all out for it. Going by the general saying, if you want a work done and done properly, give it to a woman,” she said.
Amu ventured into the unusual field- ‘Occupational Therapist’ because she believes that the hospital settings should go beyond ‘patient-doctor-nurses.’ “It’s high time treatment in hospitals go beyond doctors/nurses relationship, there should be the OT section as well. According to her, some cases need not a doctor or nurse but a therapist for physical, trauma or emotional treatment.
She said since she began the journey in 2006, it has been challenging but submersible especially when people get to know what she does and the reason for it. As an OT, she pointed to different two areas of the profession- communicable and incommunicable diseases. She explained that they are either persons with physical disability like stroke, or persons with spinal cord injury. “I also work with kids who have autism, mental retardation, who cannot sit or stand on their feet. You see that there are strengths in them but they are entrapped in the body that they have,” she said.
In addition to the challenges, she pointed out that Nigeria is yet to be fully aware of the essence of OT, “but I am happy that the name Victoria Amu has become a household name in the field of OT,” she said. The most fulfilling and joyful moment for Amu is having worked for a short period of time with patients, she sees that they respond positively to treatment and that has been her passion couple with a lot of passionate volunteer works she had done abroad years back. Amu defined it as service without expecting money or reward but pure display of passion for the profession. According to her, it had helped tremendously in building her career.
“When I started, it became great and joyous because my patients responded positively and quickly. For instance, I worked with a stroke patient for just one month and I began seeing movement and lot of positives. I wonder if I performed magic.
I worked with a depressed patient and with couple of months, the person is suddenly out of depression, I marveled. Or a year-old child that can’t crawl as an OT, I worked with the child for just few months, the child started crawling and holding onto something. Really, for me, happiness is when I make people happy, when I’m able to fill the void of a need for someone, to put smile on someone’s face. It is about using your strength to bring out someone’s weakness and help work upon it, which is what OT is all about.
Ms. Victoria Amu was born in Lagos, Nigeria and she is a USA trained Occupational Therapist, with a Masters degree in Community Health Education and candidate for Masters in Public Health . Her passion for Occupational Therapy (OT) is in Neuro-Rehabilitation, with an objective for advocacy and social justice. This led to her heeding the clarion call and returned to Nigeria with the vision for social justice and equality.
She began resuscitating the dying Occupational Therapy services in Nigeria, by joining University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and initiated the change of the Department from two open spaces with four Occupational Therapy Assisitants as staff to a department with six treatment areas( Neuro-Rehabilitation, Peadiatrics, Orthopeadic and splinting, Mental Health, ADL, vocational Rehabilitation). She worked not only as a HOD, but also supervised clinical postings of OT and OTA students, besides her regular routine practice of an astute Therapist. In a bid to extend Occupational Therapy service to clients and patients not in the mainstream of Government Hospital service, Ms. Amu became a consultant to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)Hospital, Benin Zone (2008-2011).
In further pursuit of her advocacy and social justice, she joined the Edo State Hospitals Management Board, and made history by establishing the first State-of Art OT Department in Nigeria within a State owned Hospital. She is presently the Assistant Director, Occupational Therapy, HOD, and member of the Central Hospital Management Committee.
Victoria Amu continues in her quest of making notable advancement in Occupational Therapy. Today, Occupational Therapy practice and service delivery in Nigeria is synonymous with the name VICTORIA AMU
Ms. Amu strives daily to integrate OT service into the Two Hundred and Five (205) Tertiary Hospitals across Nigeria. She is always at the fore-front in advocating and has proposed a revised curriculum of study for Bachelor of Occupational Therapy in several Universities in Nigeria. Victoria Amu’s consolidated effort in revamping the Occupational Therapy profession has resulted in increase employment of entry-level OT graduates into public and private Hospitals. Ms Amu did not stop here, she also Champion the introduction of a new salary scheme to strengthen the work force of the profession in Nigeria.
Internationally, Victoria Amu has contributed immensely to the coordination of OT Profession across Africa through students training and capacity building for public and private organization within the Health Sector. She lead a team of Occupational Therapist to OTARG congress Ghana 2017, and represented Nigeria during WFOT Congress in Yokohama, Japan 2014 as well as OTARG congress in Kampala, Uganda. In addition, Victoria Amu participated in the Training the Trainer project under the framework of UNESCO Early Childhood Education. Victoria Amu has consistently contributed to the body of knowledge in Occupational Therapy through her regional and international publications. She is a public speaker on many issues of national interests related to Occupational Therapy and Health Issues. Her strong passion for advocacy and social equalities has made her a voice for positive change in Civil Advocacy for adult education.
Victoria Amu, has in no small way contributed Occupational Therapy professional Development. As a consequences, she has organized work-shops in areas of Stroke Rehabilitation and Human Occupations within Nigeria.
She is a member of many Professional Organizations – World Federation of Occupational Therapist (WFOT), Medical Rehabilitation Therapist Board of Nigeria(MRTBN), Occupational Therapist in Nigeria (OTAN), America Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine(ACRM) and Occupational Therapy Africa Regional Group(OTARG). She was also a member of the Medical Reserve Corp – USA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and was the co-coordinator, South-South Civil Society for the eradication of Tuberculosis.
She has won several awards which includes the academic achievements of outstanding college students in America, the National Dean’s List (1993), and earned herself the Employee of the Year Awa rd (VNSNY) in 2005, and also the NAWOJ 2010 AMAZON Award for outstanding Leadership/Administrative Acumen by the Nigerian Association of Women Journalist.
She is the National President of the Occupational Therapists Association (OTAN), formerly Nigeria Association of Occupational Therapist (2014 – present), also functions as World Federation of Occupational Therapy, delegate (2014 – present), Chairman Curriculum Development Research and Strategy Committee(2016 – present), Fmr. Board member of the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Board of Nigeria (2013 – 2016)
Mrs. Amu is an urbane character with passion for excellence. She is very resilient, hard working. She is an ardent activist for social justice and equality her firm belief in the philosophy of persistence breaks resistance makes her a well-adjusted individual, to cope with every challenge that comes her way.
Victoria Amu is a Christian and has four children. She loves reading, listening to music and socializing.
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