University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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OS/OT Student Blog


#otacconf2014 →

Oct 26, 2014, by Kristy · email · Leave a comment

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend The Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Annual Conference.  It was my first OT Conference and I had a blast!  I participated in the student track, which I really enjoyed because we had a variety of sessions throughout the days, some focusing on stress management, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, and fine motor tools. 

Author and friends at OTAC Conference

Since I want to go into school-based pediatrics, there were several sessions that I thoroughly enjoyed!  The presenters had a lot of great ideas for tools and activities to do with children.  One of the sessions was about putting the “Fun” in “Functional,” insert Therapy Fun Zone!!! They showed us many different activities we could work on to target sensory systems, hand strength, grasp, and visual skills.  Another interactive session that focused on fun tools for kids was by Mama OT.  What was great about this session, is she provided us with a lot of home items into creative items.  The creator of Mama OT was an USC Occupational Therapy Graduate who saw the overlap of being a new mom and a new occupational therapist and wanted to share with others!  One thing I love about the field of occupational therapy is that people are always willing to help others do better in their career.  It’s great to follow blogs, facebook, or Pinterest boards to see what other occupational therapist are up to.  Can you guess what we did with the items below?

Household items turned into activity

Other great aspects of the OTAC conference included the social and mingling aspects.  There were evening gatherings as well as exhibit halls that allowed us to interact with other occupational therapists and occupational therapy students.  I personally enjoyed chatting with other OT students and comparing/contrasting what we were currently learning in class.  And did I mention all the free stuff we got??? Pens, reusable bags, pencil grips, tools, etc., which all can be used to promote occupational therapy!  Lastly, I can’t believe I almost forgot—to check out all the awesome pictures from the weekend, search #otacconf2014 on instagram.  OTs use a lot of social media, and they had a competition using the hashtag.  Overall, I really enjoyed the conference and see the benefit not only educationally, but personally as well.  It excites me even more about becoming an occupational therapist and being out in the field soon!


Friday Quicktakes →

Oct 24, 2014, by Claire · email · Leave a comment

Happy Friday!

Today I wanted to share some snippets about my week, so here are a few photos.

This past weekend was OTAC! So great to see our faculty and alumni win awards, give presentations, and participate in the learning/networking experience!
In the student track, we got to play with some toys and make our own for pediatrics OT!

Also, here’s a shout out to Rob, one of our former student ambassadors (transformed into Rose King in support of our 2017 OT Centennial Vision float!) and Caitlin, also an occupational therapy student in the USC program!

This week, our adult rehabilitation class did an activity analysis activity. Our team was assigned to do an activity analysis on “making a snack.” We shared a lot of different yummy ideas, perused Pinterest, and decided to make some Jack-O-Lantern quesadillas to reflect our Halloween spirit!

Did you know our classroom walls are actually giant white boards? We were practicing goal writing and developing treatment plans; our teams put all our ideas on the board and our professor gave us feedback. I secretly hope someone will come into our classrooms and leave beautiful drawings one day, like these.

Have a good weekend! smile


Coming to your Senses →

Oct 23, 2014, by Jonathan · email · Leave a comment

Hello everyone! Hope that you’re all doing great! Things have definitely been picking up as we’ve just reached the halfway point in the semester. From full time fieldwork, to the OTAC conference, to midterms, to planning events for OT Global Day of Service, and everything in between, I’ve definitely been keeping busy! With that said, it’s especially during times like these that I try to really focus on maintaining balance in my life, by making sure that I am making time for the things that are particularly meaningful for me. It’s funny, the other day while I was on a run, I was thinking about the things that I do in my life, and the commonality amongst my occupations. In doing so, it made me recollect to a self discovery I realized in my mental health Immersion - I engage in occupations that provide a lot of stimulation to my senses! A couple weeks ago, Brenda had walked into the office and told me that she had just completed the Adult Sensory Profile in her mental health immersion. For those of you that don’t know, the Adult Sensory Profile is a self questionnaire that uses Dunn’s Model of Sensory Processing to help you discover your own sensory profile, and how this processing pattern affects functional performance. Dunn’s model is divided into four sensory profiles: low registration, sensory seeking, sensory sensitivity, and sensation avoiding.

After Brenda had told me about that she had completed the profile, it made me reminisce about when I had completed the profile last spring semester during my mental health immersion. Based on the questionnaire, I ended up discovering that my profile is sensory seeking. The following are characteristics of someone who is sensation seeking: enjoys sensory rich environments, creates sensation, and has behavioral responses to counteract a high sensory threshold. All of a sudden, a lot of the things I do in my life made sense…

from my love of being in the water
Jon in the Water

to my obsession with food
Jon - Mac and Cheese

to my passion for music

Jon - Guitar
Jon - Love of Music

to how I run, mainly for own therapy
Jon - Running

to being consumed by my own wanderlust
Jon- RedRock

All these things and more are bounded by one commonality: I am constantly seeking sensation in my environment. It’s funny how the self-reflective nature of OT school brings so many things together in your own life. Which prompts the question… are your own occupations satisfying your sensory needs?

With that said, have a sensational weekend everyone wink

- Jon


OTAC Conference →

Oct 22, 2014, by Bindi · email · Leave a comment

USC has been so good to the MA1s, they recently sponsored us to attend two days of OTAC conference in Pasadena. Thank you Dr. Blanche for making it happen.

We attended the student track and it was very informative. There was a large focus on fine motor activities, traumatic brain injury and recovery and my favourite was a presentation on coaching a student with autism. Our very own Dr. Samia Rafidee was a super star and everybody loved her presentation. Students sitting next to me asked if I went to USC and when I said yes, they expressed how lucky we are to have her as a lecturer! It was amazing seeing how many presenters in student track were from USC - either alumni or faculty.

The sessions were great, but what really had me excited was the keynote address from Dr. Michael Iwama, the founder of the Kawa (river) Model. He gave a powerful and entertaining address, I was amazed by how he understood cultural diversity and how difficult it can be to generalize an OT model/ approach universally. I experienced this first hand when I was doing my bachelors of occupational therapy in small university town in South India called Manipal, and later when I started practicing in Kenya.

Besides the academic benefits we thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit hall with all the pens, sticky notes, stress balls and other cool stuff we gathered. My classmate Disha won an iPod from UCLA Health and I won a spa voucher!! Yaaay!

Freebies aside, we managed to get a lot of information about the different jobs available out there for us as OTs, and it was comforting to know as international students that there were very many companies that sponsor the work visa we will require after the OPT period is done. We also walked around and explored a very tiny part of Pasadena and appreciated the picturesque area by taking lots of selfies and hoping to get some of the beautiful architecture in the background.

Lets keep the profession moving forward and sharing the knowledge!


Dr. Michael Iwama and the Kawa Model →

Oct 22, 2014, by Brenda · email · Leave a comment

This past weekend, I attended the 2014 OTAC Conference and this year it was held in Pasadena, CA. One of the biggest highlights from this event was meeting Dr. Michael Iwama! I was star struck to say the least. Fortunately, he made himself very available to everyone who wanted to speak with him and I was even able to take a picture with him.

Dr. Iwama and me at the 2014 OTAC Conference.

Here at USC, we familiarize ourselves with his work during the Spring semester of our first year of the program. One of our readings for the Clinical Reasoning Class includes his article Toward culturally relevant epistemologies in occupational therapy.  In this article, he argues that in order to develop into a service that universally benefits all, we must strive for more culturally, relevant epistemologies, theories, and practice methods. He developed a conceptual model of practice that is known as the Kawa (River) Model. The Kawa Model uses Eastern philosophical views and perspectives to help view human occupation in a slightly different way from our Western common discourse. In order to transcend cultural boundaries, Dr. Iwama uses the metaphor of a river to illustrate a person’s subjective views of self, of well-being, and the meanings of occupations. With this concept, he encourages us to look at what the client perceives as personal assets, problems and circumstances in their lives, all of these representing different elements found in a river. As occupational therapists, Dr. Iwama states that we can focus on the spaces found in each client’s unique river and can view these as potential channels to increase the client’s flow through occupations. From this view, we become the people that enable the life-flow of our patients; another thing to add to my definition of occupational therapy!

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