University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Ambassador Blog | Antonietta

Antonietta

Choosing a Residency Site

, by Antonietta

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Thinking back to last year and searching for a residency site… I’m still overwhelmed! It is such an important part of the OTD experience but with a little bit of reframing it becomes a much more conquerable task, in fact it becomes as an opportunity to achieve some of your goals.

  1. First, stop. Take a deep breath. Ok, now…
  2. Reframe how you’re thinking about the search. This is not fieldwork. Your residency will not be like fieldwork and finding your site will not be like getting assigned a fieldwork placement. In fact, you are 100% in charge!
  3. I found it useful to think of the process like a job search. You want to consider the obvious things like the practice area but you have the freedom to include the following in your considerations: the work environment, the length of your commute, the flexibility in the hours you’ll work, and what your pay will be.
  4. You will probably have to reach out to more than one site… probably more than two… I have a friend who approached more than 15. But they found a spot in the advanced practicing setting they wanted and they got it and they’re so excited about it. The leg work was worth it.
  5. Remember the timeline for securing a residency. I didn’t start reaching out to sites until the Spring and I did not have mine confirmed until the middle of the Summer. I was too busy early in the second year of the Master’s to tackle the search and I was not put at a disadvantage by waiting until I had time to do it right. You don’t need to have your site confirmed until the beginning of your OTD.
  6. Many sites will interview you, take this as an opportunity to interview them right back! This is going to be the place where you blossom from an entry level practitioner to an established therapist. You want to advocate for what you’ll need and make sure the site you’re going for can provide it.
  7. Expand your search beyond the USC affiliated sites. These sites are amazing and might seem like an easy fix to all the anxiety about finding a residency… but they are not the right fit for everyone. Even if they’re in the practice area or population that you are interested in, the management style or location or required projects might not be right for you. Consider these things and know that there are many other sites available. Another reason people apply exclusively for the USC sites is because of funding. I will write another blog post on this soon, but there are other ways to fund the OTD with a similar financial obligation.
  8. Consider all the tracks. I ended up going with the clinical route but I have friends who want to be clinicians but took this opportunity to expand their skills in research or policy and administration. It was not necessarily their original plan but they seized the opportunity offered to them and are learning a lot. An interview with some of them will be available soon, make sure to check it out!
  9. Talk to potential faculty mentors. I didn’t come up with my residency structure until I talked to Dr. Blanche about my goals.
  10. Claim the experience, decide what you want, and make it work for you. It can be sort of flexible, so mold it. I had two interested (sensory integration and animal assisted therapy) so I’m doing a split residency between two sites. I do 10 hours per week at Therapy West and 10 hours at The Children’s Ranch and this is the right balance for me. This is YOUR residency and you have the power to make it what you need!

I’m happy to talk to anyone who has more questions, please feel free to reach out.

Antonietta

To do, or not to do… the OTD

, by Antonietta

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With OT moving in the direction of an entry level doctorate, you might be one of the last groups of OTs deciding whether to elect to pursue the D! I obviously chose to, but I still considered a number of things. Some were more practical, like I knew it was unlikely that I would come back to school for a third time to do it later and I qualified for the accelerated acceptance to USC’s program with advanced standing. But some were more esoteric. Reflecting on the experience of making that decision, I created a list of things I considered. I did not have specific answers to each one, but I was excited about this type of question.

1. What practice area or deep interest would you like to focus on during this experience? Remember a practice area can be a clinical setting but also research, policy, administration, program development, or education.
2. Does doing projects like a literature search about the population needs and best practices in the area of your proposed residency excite you?
3. Are you interested in current issues in OT and critically problem solving how to address them?
4. Are you interested in blazing the trail for the future of occupational therapy and being a leader in the field?
5. What sort of experience do you want your residency to be and what are you hoping to get from it as well as from your faculty mentor at USC?

Doing the OTD at USC differentiates your level of commitment to your education. It will set you apart from other applicants because you will have gained above entry level clinical skills, done in depth work in an advance practice area, developed a meaningful program, done ground breaking research, contributed to discussions around policy and administration, and/or developed your skills to educated the next generation of occupational therapists. You will have honed your leadership skills and be set on the path to be a leader in our field.

Antonietta

Presenting at Conference

, by Antonietta

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The past few weeks have been so exciting (and exhausting). I presented at two conferences; the first was AOTA’s Education Summit it Louisville, KY and the second, closer to home, was the OTAC’s annual conference in Pasadena. It was an amazing experience and I wanted to share a little bit about it!

In the second year of the Master’s program, I elected to do Directed Research (OT590) with Dr. Rafeedie, completing 2 units in the Fall and 2 units in the Spring. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m interested in education so I created this experience to do some research about pedagogy and best practices when it comes to simulation. My inspiration for this topic stemmed from being frustrated in some of my courses when asked to role play with my peers. I was quite uncomfortable role playing and I was not convinced it added my clinical skills as a future occupational therapist. From this seed of frustration grew the foundation of our presentations: a low to high fidelity chart for the different types of simulations, an evidence matrix outlining the support for simulation in education, recommendations from the literature about best practice surrounding this instructional method, and finally a piece that I was not expecting at all when I started out. This unexpected piece was the most interesting of them all… looking at simulation from the disability perspective.

Upon reflection, this perspective is the root of why I was uncomfortable with simulation in class.  Although the goal was to learn, it felt a little bit like a mockery when I pretended to have a prescribed difference. It took looking at this in class requirement from an outside, academic point of view, and discussing it with my mentor to be able to identify the source of this discomfort and start to think critically yet constructively about it. We went to the disability literature and discovered that since the 1990s it has contained a call to stop disability simulation. It cites research which has shown that disability simulation has many unintended consequences. So, we looked further, read more research, and started to build an idea of what types of simulation add to positive educational outcomes and how we can use simulation respectfully and ethically. The bottom line is, we need to be coupling simulation with lived experiences perspectives.  As OTs, we valued the phenomenological components of care and recovery that simulation does not provide. These nuances, which simulation simply cannot capture, are what sets us apart from other healthcare professionals.  We must be mindful about explicitly including the disability perspective in our curriculum and learning activities. 

It was exhilarating to share what we found and developed at the two conferences. Our audiences were very active participants with many questions and different points of view to share. This has been an amazing way to end this project (for now) and it was only possible because of Dr. Rafeedie and USC, so Fight On!

Antonietta

Why I’m Doing the OTD

, by Antonietta

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I decided to pursue the OTD at USC because I love our profession and I want to give back to it. I see the OTD as a way to grow and blossom as a leader. It is a guided experience to gain clinical expertise, discuss current issues in occupational therapy on both a micro and macro level, and develop professional skills. I know the area of practice that I am interested in and the bigger picture problems I want to fully grasp and then help crack open. The OTD process will help me accomplish these goals.

After completing the coursework for a sensory integration certificate during my Masters, I realized that I wanted mentorship from leaders in SI as I take these concepts from the classroom into practice.  This lead me to do half of my residency at Therapy West. I think I could build these clinical skills as an entry level practitioner; the OTD is both a tool and an experience that will let me go a step further. I want to take SI out of the clinical gym into a community based setting. I am developing such a program as the second half of my residency, at The Children’s Ranch, where additionally we incorporate animals into our sessions. I want as much support as possible as I try develop this unique area of clinical practice, which I get from both preceptors at my residency sites and my faculty mentor at USC.

Finally, I’m doing the OTD because I am interested in being a professor of Occupational Therapy. I am building my skills at collecting and collating information as well as presenting it. I’m excited about this upcoming year and look forward to sharing my experience with you. Fight On!