Student Ambassador Blog | Bethany
Jul 9, 2018, by Bethany
As an undergraduate Occupational Therapy student at USC, in every conversation, I inevitably get asked three questions in this specific order: What’s your major? Ooh, what’s Occupational Therapy? How did you know you wanted to be an OT?
Well, after my brief fifteen second description of how an occupation is any meaningful activity that takes up your time (whether it be brushing your teeth, swimming, or walking the dog), and how Occupational Therapists are focused on an individual as a whole becoming independent in the occupations they’re passionate about, I then tackle the last question: How did I manage to stumble upon such an incredible field?
I was born (fun fact: on October 6th, the same day USC was founded) and raised in Southern California by two parents who were physicians. Through their stories of incredible relationships and conversations with patients, for example how my mom gets to care for three generations of the same family, I decided at a young age that I wanted to serve and help people in a similar way. I wanted to build those bonds with people and be able to see them grow and change over time. But I also wanted the chance to be creative, to maybe continue to pursue my passion in music, or to explore other activities. And one day, one of my parents’ friends walked in the door, talking about how she had just referred one of her patients to an OT, and she said, “Oh! Bethany should check it out!” And so I did. I was able to shadow an OT on a house visit, as well as a hand OT for a day, and I fell in love with what they did.
I fell in love with the way they broke apart different activities and analyzed different aspects, how they used sensory integration tactics for the house visits (everything from macaroni boxes to hanging out in a hammock), how they used shuffling cards and practicing with putty to bring back range of motion in a thumb, and most of all how they looked at the whole individual to help them get back to what was most important to them. Instead of focusing on the question “What’s the matter with you?” the OTs seemed to turn to “What matters to you?” I’ve found the perfect blend of being creative and being compassionate. I’m excited to see where OT takes me in the future, how it will use my own passions to help people follow theirs.