Student Ambassador Blog | Ali
Nov 17, 2017, by Ali
As this semester is winding down and I am choosing my classes for next semester I have been feeling especially thankful for being a USC Trojan studying occupational therapy. Thanksgiving coming up around the corner has also been a healthy reminder to take a step back and recognize all the wonderful aspects of my life, future profession, and school. My freshman year I was overwhelmed with too much choice in having to choose a major that would then lead to a job. And then I found occupational therapy.
This semester has been full with making plans for the future after graduation, and I feel so thankful to be at USC studying occupational therapy. At every turn there is a professor who stops class in the middle of a lecture to check in on our stress levels and give us a pep talk about how capable we are. Not only are the professors supportive and receptive to our needs, but also all of the faculty are here to help us get to where we want to be and feel good about it along the way. Whether it be walking into a professor’s office hours to ask question after question or brief conversations in the hallway when a faculty member asks “how are you?” and you know they truly want to know and help. The Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is one of the top programs in the country for research and practice, but it is also a warm and close-knit community that supports its students every step of the way.
I am also thankful for finding occupational therapy because even as I feel stress and worried about my future, I have complete confidence that no matter what setting I work in or what population I choose to focus on, I will helping people. Whether it be getting somebody out of bed for the first time after having a stroke so they can brush their own teeth and hair or helping a child attend to an entire board game activity with a peer, I am grateful to get to be entering a profession that is client-centered, creative, and focuses on helping individuals live out their definition of a meaningful life. I will be making a difference in helping my clients do what is meaningful to them. Halfway through my second year of the Master’s program I keep getting wrapped up in the small details of due dates and exams, but this week has me stepping back to be grateful for being a future occupational therapist and member of the Trojan family. Fight on and Happy Thanksgiving!
Oct 30, 2017, by Ali
With week ten of the semester comes midterms, unfinished projects, and the overall stress of finishing classes while choosing classes for next semester. I found myself getting caught up in the stress of it all, going straight from class to work to home only to continue studying or working until bed and then starting it all over the next day. Then one day last week, I came home to huge brown box on my front porch. My parents had mailed me a boogie board. They knew both how stressed I had been and my love for swimming in the ocean.
I had been talking for months about wanting to go to the beach on the weekend, but never found myself actually making the short twenty-minute drive. This surprise present was just the motivation I needed, as I have always wanted to take up boogie boarding but never actually knew how or owned the board. So last week, with October weather in Los Angeles being so warm, I took my new board to ocean! An eight five-degree weather day at the beach is hard to pass up.
The fresh air and salty water was the just the refresher I had been craving in the middle of the semester. It felt so good to do something like boogie boarding, which has no inherent value besides being enjoyable and fun. To engage in something purely for the sake of leisure without any productive value or in the hopes of reaching a goal, was something I had not done in a long time. There are so many occupations out there, and I am so glad I was reminded to try out a new one. I love being a beginner at something again and the joy of learning a new skill just for the sake of learning it. In the middle of occupational therapy school this semester, I was reminded of the power of occupation and the therapeutic value that meaningful activities have on our lives. I am feeling ready to take the rest of the exams and projects I have ahead (with my boogie board in my hand).
Oct 16, 2017, by Ali
As part of our course curriculum in the second year, all three cohorts take OT 538: Current Issues in Practice: Adulthood & Aging. This course addresses the shifting demographics of society with the worldwide phenomenon of aging and occupational therapy’s role in caring for the aging population. One option for this course is to engage in an interdisciplinary experience with USC students in other fields of study, which include: pharmacy, dental hygiene, social work, medical, physician assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students! One aspect that drew me into occupational therapy was the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and community outreach, which this program blends together seamlessly, so I was eager to sign up.
We had our first site visit this week where we prepared for an hour before meeting with our older adult living in the residential community building. The focus of the week was on pharmacy and social work as well as to generally get to know our older adult. My interprofessional team does not include a social work student or a pharmacy student, so the other healthcare professional students and I stepped up to coordinate our session in a collaborative way. We ensured we remained within our respective scopes of practice while also obtaining all the information we needed. The older adult that we get to work with is so welcoming and open about her life.
The different professional students on my team and I took turns asking various questions, about everything from her family, where she is from, what she did for a living, and what she currently does with her time. She was open about her medical history, concerns about age related illness due to family history of diabetes and Alzheimer’s. She showed us photos of her grandchildren and years of travel. She opened up about her peers and how she views aging as something she is in control of by maintaining a social life, physical activity, and engaging in activities that give her life meaning (occupations!).
After the session we debriefed as a team and it was amazing to hear all of the different things that each professional student found significant and would affect their treatment or intervention, if we were to treat our older adult. The physician assistant and the medical student found the vitamins that our older adult is taking to be a great fit for her and her needs. The dental hygienist student noticed a tooth that she was in between appointments on getting it fixed. The physical therapy student noticed bruises on her knees and handles on the walls, which lead her to want to know more about her balance. I wanted to know more about her roles, routines, and habits in order to get a better idea of how she occupies her times.
I love the chance to get to ask each of these different students questions to learn more about their professional lenses as well as the chance to connect with an older adult. Being a student at USC opens the door for opportunities such as this with so many other professional programs and connection to the community. The Trojan family spreads into all of the schools within the university and community members. I look forward to my next site visit to continue my interprofessional growth and building a relationship with our older adult.
Oct 2, 2017, by Ali
We just hosted our OT Welcome Back Dinner for the Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree Program students. With 9-11 students per graduating class, the Accelerated BS to MA community is a very small and connected group. Dr. Joanne Park and the rest of the admissions team organize events, such as this dinner, as an opportunity to share a meal with all the OT majors who can make it. We organized dinner, games, and the chance to meet their mentor/mentee groups for the first time.
Each student is assigned a mentor group, which consists of at least one freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior as a resource to ask questions and help support one another. We encourage these mentor groups to engage in their favorite occupations together or study together on campus.
These events are designed to foster the community, or OT Family, of progressive degree occupational therapy students throughout their five years with the program. As these students are on a fast track professional degrees, we want to ensure they feel a part of the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. It is important to note the BS degree does not permit students to be licensed therapists, but they will be ready to sit for the national board exam and become a therapist even sooner because they only have one more year of school to complete their Master’s degree.
Sep 18, 2017, by Ali
Although I am a second year in the graduate program, I technically completed my undergraduate degree in May 2017. Therefore these first few weeks of classes have been full of transition and adjustment from living on the University Park Campus to living on the west side of Los Angeles and commuting to the Health Science Campus. Here are some things I have learned:
1) Moving to a new neighborhood in a familiar city
This is my fifth year living in Los Angeles, but this is my first time living off campus in an apartment. I live in Culver City, which is a thirty minute drive from the Health Science Campus. This change of neighborhood has provided me the opportunity to find all new running routes, coffee shops for studying, and even a favorite laundromat. This move has opened up a whole new side of Los Angeles to my life.
2) The value of a planned social life
Moving off campus means that I now live on average fifteen to twenty minutes away from my friends. I can no longer just drop by my friend’s apartment unannounced or walk to the library together late on a Sunday night. I have quickly learned the necessity that is planning in advance to go out to dinner or try a new ice cream shop with a friend. These things cannot be as spontaneous as they used to be, but that just means I get to have something fun on my calendar to look forward to.
3) The abundance of USC hosted graduate student events
In just the first few weeks back to school, I have already seen the benefits and fun of being a graduate student. I went to the occupational therapy and physical therapy tailgate for our first football game. It was an easy way to be social with classmates as well as the physical therapy students, who we share a lunch patio with. I love that all the graduate school students have just as much Trojan pride as my undergraduate friends. I also attended a Los Angeles Dodgers game for five dollars organized by Graduate Student Government. There are always fun events for graduate students to opt into!
4) Everything we learn is valuable and relevant
One aspect of graduate school that has only been solidified over the past few weeks upon returning from level II fieldwork, is just how relevant all of our coursework is to our future practice. Regardless of what area we specialize in or get advanced practice in, the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy has created a curriculum that molds us into generalists of the field of occupational therapy. Each course has its own value. Readings and assignments are all important because they are informing and building our occupational therapist lenses. It is motivating to know everything we are doing in and out of the classroom is valuable.
5) Classmates in graduate school have a lot in common
Finally, as some of my undergraduate friends have moved away and out of Los Angeles, I have become closer with graduate school occupational therapy classmates. It is wonderful to be a part of a program that has students with diverse interests and backgrounds. We are all so different while simultaneously have a common interest entering a profession centered around helping people live their healthiest and happiest lives. Lunchtime is always a good time with the occupational therapy students.