Student Ambassador Blog | Erika
Adventures in OT in Ireland
As part of our Leadership Capstone course that rounds out our final semester at USC Chan (boy, did time FLY!), we are given an opportunity to build our own externship experience during the two weeks leading up to Spring Break. In recognition that OT is a broad field that can work with populations across various settings and life stages and that each students’ journey through OT is highly individual; this is a great opportunity for students to pursue their individual interests and curiosities about the profession while demonstrating their own knowledge and leadership in OT.
The creativity of my fellow classmates’ externship experiences was inspiring! Some students stayed local and observed ergonomic and lifestyle changes that their friends could implement to prevent work-related injuries at their desk jobs. Other students chose to shadow faculty in order to see what goes into working in academia. Still, others expanded upon their community-based OT programs that we crafted last semester and furthered their research and execution to make these programs viable and one step closer to becoming realized.
Additionally, a great number of students went international. As Kaitlyn mentioned, our Global Initiatives office offers organized trips to places like Denmark, Japan, Ghana, Korea, and Australia where you can go with a group of your classmates to visit various OT facilities and universities abroad.
I chose to go international as well! I ended up going to Ireland and with the help of a few classmates and colleagues who were either from Ireland or had previously gone to Ireland during their externships, I was able to set up 8 independent site visits with OTs in 4 different cities across the country. In choosing Ireland, I really wanted to understand what the strengths and barriers were in practicing OT within a public healthcare system, explore interventions that prove successful in Ireland that may not be in America and the cultural implications of that, and gain a sense of the student experience and curriculum for those currently learning OT in Ireland.
My overall experience exceeded any of my expectations and goals. Here is a map and a list of sites I was able to visit:
Map of Externship in Ireland
(Note: Yellow Points = OT Site Visits)
- Dublin City University & Trinity University: I spoke with OTs and OT students who work in Student Disability Services
- National Rehabilitation Hospital: Inpatient Rehab observation of their Prosthetic Orthotic Limb Absence Programme, Rehabilitation Training Unit Group, Brain Injury Program, and discuss the student experience with Trinity fieldwork students that were placed there
- Galway University Hospital: I observed OTs working in acute care in the following areas General Med (renal, infectious disease, and endocrine), Med Surgery, and Cardiac ICU
- National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG): I met with the Practice Education Coordinator who graciously set me up with many of her OT contacts in Ireland
- Clonbrusk Resource Centre: I spoke with American OTs who have been in Ireland for over 15 years practicing in pediatrics and observed an OT evaluation with a new client
- St Finbarr’s Hospital: Spoke with an OT working in the hospital’s Inpatient Rehab Geriatrics unit
- University College Cork (UCC): Along with my classmate, Joe, we presented on our community-based OT programs to graduating OT students at UCC. Additionally, I was able to sit in in a couple of lectures about interventions that are being introduced into Ireland from other parts of Europe as well as a lecture on working with transgendered clients in Ireland
On top of this, I was able to travel and sightsee the gorgeous countryside in between site visits. From the terrifying adventure of learning how to drive on the left side of the road to observing Irish families playing in the snow on their first snow day in 10 years to exploring the towering Cliffs of Moher and the teeny artist town of Dingle to celebrating St. Paddy’s day in Dublin, Ireland was nothing short of extraordinary and this was most often shown through the warmth of its people and culture.
Sláinte! (Cheers! in Irish)