Student Ambassador Blog
Sep 26, 2011, by Chelsea
Have you ever done something that was so engaging it made you completely forget about everything else on your mind? In occupational therapy, we call this the “flow” state because it is the point at which every move you make has a seamless connection with everything that precedes it and follows it. It is a state of deep concentration and great autonomy, in which the person experiences a perfect balance between their skill level and the level of difficulty. Why do we seek out these experiences? The result is explicit emotional satisfaction.
I experienced “flow” last weekend.
It was in San Diego, my hometown, where I had this experience after my friends and I decided to go wakeboarding. Being an avid snowboarder, wakeboarding came naturally to me, yet it was still a new and invigorating sensation. From the moment the boat lifted me out of the water, I was in the zone. It felt so awesome to be carving through the cool water with the wind whipping across my face. And the best part was being able to completely clear my mind of everything – for a few minutes I had no deadlines, no papers to think about, and no places to be… just sheer bliss. I can’t wait to help my future patients find their flow state! As for you… you may already know - what makes you flow?
Sep 22, 2011, by Alix
This past week, I attended a fantastic seminar on the power of storytelling and deep listening in healthcare settings. I had the privilege of meeting a number of other healthcare professionals and students, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, massage therapists, physical therapists, and even a hospice chaplain. (I became very adept at defining OT!) We learned about a technique called “joint construction of narrative,” which involves listening to the patient and helping him/her to weave a story out of his/her life and illness experience. Then, we learned about the importance of “mirroring” the patient’s story, reflecting it back truthfully rather than trying to “fix” the problems. (This is harder than it sounds!)
As a former English major, I love a good story, and one of the things I like most about OT is the opportunity to hear compelling life stories from clients. Because we aren’t saddled with the same time constraints as many other healthcare professionals, we can settle in and enjoy the rich process of listening to the people we work with. I think a lot of people, especially in underserved populations, don’t have many opportunities to tell their story in a nurturing, supportive environment. So it seems like we have a responsibility to provide that environment whenever we can with OT. Anyway, off my soapbox now! Bottom line: I’m excited to be able to take storytelling from my undergrad English days all the way into a new career in OT.
Sep 21, 2011, by Floyd
On Saturday, I went to an amazing event at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center for KiDA’s (Kids Institute for Development and Advancement) third annual Summit on Autism where First Lady Rosalyn Carter was the keynote speaker. I learned about the newest technologies that parents and therapists can use to support their child’s learning, such as iPAD apps for kids. I also got to learn about the newest research on the vast amount of treatments and the resources that families can utilize. This was a great learning opportunity for me because I got to understand more about Autism, its impact on the family, and the positive effects of family involvement.
First Lady Rosalyn Carter, a national advocate for mental health and caregivers, founded the Carter Center’s Mental Health Task Force—a board of experts and consumers that advocate for positive change in the mental health field. She spoke about her past experiences as an advocate for mental health and how it is in our reach in ending the mental health crisis.
One very cool study that I got to learn about was about a couple that set up digital cameras in every room of their home and recorded 24 hours a day of their child’s development from birth to the age of 3. By using different movement and voice recognition systems, they were able to map out what words or babble their child said and where and what time it happened. This way, they were able to figure out what environment stimulated the most words and what the child was doing to develop his or her language. Obviously, this is still taking them some time to gather all the information because it is over 26,000 hours of film that they have to go through. Best of luck to them!
Here’s a pic of me tabling and telling everyone about the great opportunities there is at USC’s Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy!
Sep 20, 2011, by Kimberly · 1 comment
One of my electives this semester is called “Occupational Therapy in Primary Healthcare Environments.” In this class we are looking at the various roles occupational therapists can take in primary healthcare settings like family clinics, emergency rooms, pediatric clinics, assisted living facilities, etc. It is a newer field for OT and focuses mainly on prevention and wellness. Also in this class, we are part of a pilot study titled Inter-Professional Geriatric Curriculum (IPGC) where we get to work with students studying to be doctors, physician’s assistants, pharmacists, and physical therapists. With this team, we will go visit a resident at a local assisted living facility and talk with him/her from the lens of our different disciplines and provide recommendations based on our different areas of expertise.
In preparation to my group’s first visit with our resident, we decided to meet for dinner to discuss strategy and get to know each other. We got to go around and describe what really we do in our professions, discuss our expectations for this class, and then discuss an approach to going in and talking with our resident. It was so inspiring to see the collaboration that happened naturally for all of us. We are all pretty easy-going, but no one was fighting over turf, stepping on others’ toes or trying to push their agenda. Hopefully when I graduate and enter the field a year from now, these kinds of relationships and partnerships will be present wherever I end up working. It’s fun to be able to understand/respect the other fields of expertise while also contributing OTs unique perspective.
Sep 19, 2011, by Chelsea
The second year of the Occupational Therapy program at USC gives students the opportunity to take their first OT elective course—their first opportunity to choose a course they are interested rather than having it be required! After doing my third Level I Fieldwork in hand therapy, I had a heightened interest in the field and in the prospect of getting certified to be a hand therapist. Although there were many awesome courses to choose as my one elective this fall, I had no trouble making the decision to take Hand Rehabilitation with Lisa Deshaies.
So far it has been incredible and is “hands down” my favorite class! We have learned so much practical knowledge about the anatomy of the hand and all kinds of different hand deformities and injuries. Professor Deshaies keeps the class interesting by reading us excerpts that relate to the hand in Sports Illustrated, showing us videos of the progress and personal struggle of a patient she treated, bringing in actual hand and arm cadavers to get a more “hands on” anatomy understanding, and leading great class discussions. Currently, I’m working on a Hand Observation Log for which I have been observing how people use their hands daily for functioning, communicating, and other daily activities. Surprisingly, you can tell a lot about a person by how they are using their hands. Some of the best aspects of the class are that the class is at night so I don’t need to wake up early, and it is credit/no credit making it less stressful than my other courses… however, it can be a bit of a “handful”!