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 | Melissa

Melissa

And So It Begins… One Last Time

, by Melissa · email · comment

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Hey guys! This semester is now in full swing after a wonderful and restful break. For those of you that don’t know, our final semester in the program consists of a variety of electives that allow us to specialize/customize our academic experience! I talk about what that entails in one of my previous posts, so check it out if you’re interested in knowing more!

In this post, I want to talk a bit more in depth about the courses that I am taking, as I find it fascinating that we get this opportunity to customize our learning experience. Although I’ve found our curriculum thus far to be incredibly useful and important for our foundational knowledge of the profession, being able to take courses that I have chosen based on my own personal preferences is amazing! Although I am interested in both pediatrics and adult physical rehabilitation, I chose to focus more on my interests in physical rehab. Thus, I’m taking courses in Primary Care, Acute Care, Neurorehabilitation, and Dysphagia, in addition to our Leadership Capstone, and Occupational Science course. It is definitely a full course load, but I’m enjoying it tremendously.

My Primary Care and Acute Care courses have an additional clinical component in which we get to shadow an occupational therapist in those respective settings. For the Acute class, we get to go across the street to Keck Hospital, where we get to see some incredibly complex cases. The medical complexity surrounding some of the cases we see really adds an additional layer to the problem solving we have to do in our career as OTs. Learning about all of the medical conditions we might encounter in class, and then immediately seeing some of those conditions during our clinical experiences is pretty surreal, but it truly helps to solidify the information that we are learning.

Occupational therapy in primary care is an emerging area for our profession, but it makes complete sense to have OTs in that setting! We learn all about the complexities associated with primary care - particularly surrounding the constantly changing policy and reimbursement challenges - and how that impacts our ability to be included as part of a patient’s care in that setting. For our clinical experiences, we have the option to shadow an OT providing direct care in a primary care setting, or to see what consultative OT looks like as well! Again, being able to apply what we’re learning in class to a real-life situation is amazing, and so helpful for my learning.

Although the Neurorehabilitation and Dysphagia courses don’t have a clinical component, there is still a lot of hands-on learning involved. In Neurorehab, we get to practice different assessments on each other, which is useful because a sense of mastery is necessary to execute these assessments well. In Dysphagia, we learn all about the anatomy associated with swallowing, and also practice swallowing assessments on each other to aid in our knowledge. Another cool thing about the Dysphagia course is that the hours in the course count towards our certification in that area! There is a certain amount of hours that have to be completed as part of that certification, therefore it’s great that we get a head start.

In addition to all of the exciting things going on related to my clinical experiences and electives, I get to look forward to completing my externship in March, welcoming the incoming class in April, and of course graduation in May! I had heard from other students that the Spring semester is a whirlwind that goes by very quickly, and now I definitely know what they mean! If you have any questions about the elective process, any of the specific course, or anything about the program in general, feel free to reach out!

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