This semester I am taking Occupation-Based Adult Neurorehabilitation, Hand Rehabilitation and Occupational Therapy in Acute Care as my elective courses. Although we are only four weeks into this semester, I have already learned so much and am fascinated by all my classes! Each elective course provides such a comprehensive review of the course topics and allows for very hands-on learning opportunities. Throughout our program we get to see course content applied in practice through both our Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences however, this semester we get to apply course concepts on ourselves and our classmates and really hone in on our skills as practitioners before we graduate!
In my acute care class, we have the opportunity to shadow occupational therapists at Keck Hospital of USC, our world-renowned academic medical center. These clinical experiences coincide with lecture content and significantly enhance the learning experience. In my occupation-based adult neurorehabilitation class, we have both a lecture and lab portion. During lab, we get very hands-on practicing various neurorehabilitation techniques that we learn in class that day. Again, this opportunity to practice what we’re learning and clinically apply concepts from lecture has really made this semester so enjoyable and enriching. This week in neurorehab class, we practiced kinesiotaping and dynamic taping techniques on each other. Here are a few pictures from all the fun we had while learning and practicing this technique!
How did we do??
Earlier this week, Ariel wrote a great post about housing and her deciding factors when looking for a place to live. Her post is very thorough, so click that link to check it out. I’m chiming in to give the flip perspective as someone currently living in USC housing near the University Park Campus (UPC).
I’m originally from NY, but I’ve been living in LA since 2003, and pretty much lived all over it: West Hollywood, Silverlake, Downtown LA, and Monterey Park/San Gabriel Valley… and now back to USC housing. I don’t live in the OT house, but I live in another graduate student apartment building across the street from it. This gives me all the same benefits that Ariel mentioned (gotta love sharing books!), but I also get my own space in my one bedroom apartment. You can read up on more of the university housing options and amenities, such as internet, premium cable, etc, on the housing website. UPC is ~15 minute drive to the OT building (or take the USC shuttle, which is really convenient!), and is conveniently located next to several public transit options as well as freeways to connect to the other parts of the city.
I went to USC for undergrad, so I’m already very familiar with the campus and its resources. I first came back into USC housing last year as an RA (Resident Assistant); I really enjoyed doing the whole RA-thing with my sophomore kiddos, and the free housing and meal plan were a nice bonus. However, I decided to stay in USC housing for a few specific reasons:
#1 Easy Access to the University Park Campus
I love living close to the University Park Campus and all of its resources. There’s tons of art & cultural events, free movie screenings, sports matches, and all sorts of great events. I also volunteer on campus with the Office of Wellness & Health Promotion as a Wellness Advocate, facilitating meditation workshops; I also volunteer with the Lambda LGBT Alumni Association where I mentor undergraduate LGBT students in all areas of life, particularly professional development.
I just love the energy on this campus from all the different types of people (students, faculty, staff, etc), and the different disciplines/fields that people are a part of. Football tailgates and other social events are a great time, and we often walk over from the OT House en masse to the free events on campus. Through the Visions & Voices arts initiatives on-campus, I’ve seen spoken word performances, Ira Glass do a live podcast, live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera in NY, and seen free shows at the LA Philharmonic, Pantages Theater, and Ahmanson Theaters.
Oh, and I love swimming and the various athletic options at UPC. I’ve gone dancing with the salsa club, gone shooting with the archery club, and taken free yoga classes.
#2 Leasing Follows the Academic Calendar
This is a big bonus for me. Since I’m from out of town, I knew coming into the program that I would want to do my Level 2 Fieldwork experiences outside of LA. Since the USC apartments are tied to our academics, I don’t need to find subletters for the months that I’m out of town on fieldwork. They simply ran my lease August-May when I was in class, then let me out from May-August when I was at Level 2 Fieldwork. The same thing will happen this year, and for my OTD year, I don’t know where I’ll be because I haven’t confirmed a residency site/dates just yet… but whenever I do confirm it, the university will adjust my lease accordingly (whether that means staying shorter or longer).
#3 The Trojan Family
USC students & alums form an incredible community known as the Trojan Family, and being near UPC is a great chance to feel a part of this larger Trojan network. Whether you’re near campus or out in LA, you’re a part of this amazing family alongside A. Jean Ayres, John Wayne, Shonda Rhimes, Neil Armstrong, over 400 Olympian athletes, among others. Make the most of your time at USC, and…
Here’s a visual representation of our semester class schedule!
To break it down for you:
Mondays: We are typically all together in the lecture hall, learning core elements that are essential to our profession (ex: health and wellness, behavioral neuroscience, adulthood and aging, clinical reasoning & therapeutic use of self).
Tuesdays: You meet with your cohort in your semester-specific practice immersion (either Adult Physical Rehabilitation, Mental Health or Pediatrics), in a room that holds about 1/3 of your class, or about 45 people.
Wednesdays: Last semester, when this screenshot of my schedule was taken, I had my fieldwork day on Wednesday! We spend a full day at a site, relevant to our practice immersion, which offers us a chance to observe treatments with people in real life.
Thursdays: Every week for 3 hours, you will be enrolled in a lab that matches your practice immersion. This lab contains ½ of your cohort, or about 22 people, and gives you hands-on experience to practice certain assessments or techniques on your fellow classmates! You will also have another core class emphasizing the importance of research, so that we may incorporate evidence-based practice in therapy.
Fridays: Days off! People use this time to work, research, or relax. This past Friday was actually our annual OT Vegas Trip! It was so nice to participate in ALL my favorite occupations as we hiked, ate at buffets, danced, and socialized throughout it all!
Shout out to the MA-I students who are from various countries, and taught me so much about international OT practices! So happy I got to bond with you all this trip!
When I was first admitted at USC for my masters in occupational therapy, my first thought was “I’m so friggin’ ecstatic!” My second thought: “Where should I live???”
As a bay-area native, I was looking at uprooting myself from my post-undergrad living situation (read: my parents’ basement) and relocating to sunny Los Angeles. The OT department offers a house (The OT House) for occupational therapy students to live in, if they so choose. Alternatively, I could find housing off campus on my own.
As a student ambassador, lots of newly admitted students ask me about what factors influenced me in making my own housing decision. Here are my thoughts:
Each housing situation comes with its own set of considerations. When making the decision, it’s important to think of which of these factors is most important to you.
Pictured Above: USC Centennial Apartments, where the OT House is located
OT House Considerations
- geared towards students, lease available by the semester (if desired)
- I wouldn’t have to worry about running around to open houses around LA to try and find the right spot/roommates
- built in OT study buddies!
- OT professor on my floor, who I could potentially make a great connection with
- facilities are nice considering the cost
- free shuttle that takes students to and from the health science campus (where we have almost all of our classes)
- opportunity to partake in weekly events with ENGAGE, a program that works with at-risk youth by giving them opportunities to participate in activities from arts and crafts to cooking to science experiments.
- right near the USC OT department’s Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign (a beautiful Victorian house where we have department events and can study)
- close proximity to the USC main campus, which gives easier access to student life, campus events, screenings, performances, etc.
- a bit further from where we have classes every day
Off-Campus Housing Considerations
- flexibility in choosing which neighborhood I’d like to live in and who my roommates are
- (relative) flexibility in determining how much I would like to pay each month
- ability to live closer to the health science campus, where we have classes every day (or right next to the beach, if that’s your priority!)
- more homey environment/less of a dorm-like environment
Ultimately I made the decision to live in the Echo Park/Silverlake area; I really liked the feel of the neighborhood, found a spot with really great roommates (all USC alums!), and got incredibly cheap rent. I love it because I have autonomy, and I appreciate coming home to people who are not in our program, since we spend the majority of our days with our classmates! The apartment I chose is a 9-minute drive to the Health Science campus without traffic, and rarely more than 15 minutes even in heavy traffic.
Pictured Above: Echo Park Lake
In terms of actually finding housing, I didn’t have too much trouble finding a spot as soon as I started. I actually found a few fellow soon-to-be OT students through our class’s Facebook group and we all did some neighborhood-hunting together during the Admitted Students Reception weekend. The main neighborhoods I considered heavily (due to proximity to campus, cost, and “walkability”) were Pasadena, South Pasadena, Echo Park, Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Downtown LA. Friends of mine chose to live in areas like Culver City, Santa Monica, Venice, and Glendale. *Pro tip for incoming OT students*: Sometimes the graduating second year OT students post in the incoming class’s Facebook group because they’ll be leaving their apartments around the same time you guys will be moving in!
However you choose to approach the housing hunt, make sure you research the neighborhood and the opportunities available to you in each location. Talk to others who have gone through the same decision-making process, and don’t let yourself get too stressed out—we all found housing in the end!
It’s the start of my last semester in the MA program, and in some ways it feels totally new.
One of the unique parts of our program is that during this final semester, we get to take electives in addition to the required leadership & occupational science course. A lot of my classmates are using this opportunity to get started on specializations and certifications, such as fellow ambassador Heather who is immersed in hand therapy courses.
I’m a bit more eclectic in my approach…
Therapeutic Communication for the Healthcare Practitioner:
I’m loving this experiential training course for learning Motivational Interviewing (MI), a really powerful communication tool to help clients settle ambivalence and motivate them towards behavior change. We spend a lot of time in class actually practicing MI skills, which has been so helpful that I find myself using it even among my friends.
I came to USC OT because of my interest in helping people live better, healthier lives through changing their habits & routines. Lifestyle Redesign is a signature practice of USC, and I feel really shows the power of OT in helping people sustain a healthy lifestyle. We are paired with a partner for the semester to use the Lifestyle Redesign intervention approach. I’m really excited for both myself and my dear friend & fellow ambassador Rashelle will come out of the semester with even healthier lifestyles as well as strong Lifestyle Redesign skills.
Independent Study Project:
I’m also working with Dr. Jenny Martinez on developing a diversity-related initiative with two of my classmates;we’ve only had one planning meeting so far, but our goal is to develop a project to support “best practices” with clients of diverse backgrounds.
For our electives, we can take some courses outside of OT, so I elected to take a course from the Master’s of Business Administration program. Social Entrepreneurship essentially looks at how to develop a business model to address social change in social justice, environmental, and/or healthcare fields (or more!). So far, it’s been one of my most exciting classes, and I’ve been generating so many ideas on different ways to deliver healthcare services, and ways non-profit and for-profit models can balance each other for greater social good.
It’s an exciting semester! I can’t believe the program is almost done!