Student Ambassador Blog | Serena
Student Run Clinic’s 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium
At USC Student Run Clinic’s (SRC) 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium, students from Medicine, Physician Assistant (PA), Pharmacy, and Occupational Therapy (of course!) programs explored healthcare topics related to homelessness in Los Angeles.
There were many honorable guest speakers doing fantastic work in their respective fields. One was a Physician Assistant and USC alumni, Brett Feldman. However, his documentary Close to Home: Street Medicine was nominated for an Emmy so he was unable to make it.
Another honorable speaker discussed her experiences receiving healthcare as a woman living on Skid Row. She shared her wisdom and advised us to
1) meet the patient where they are at or else we will experience burnout.
2) put the person first and not the chart, start off by asking, “How are you today?”
3) make sure our services come from the heart.
She was asked,“What is the most difficult thing about being homeless?” She replied back that the cold, wind, and finding a restroom were the most challenging aspects about being homeless. Her next comment struck me, which was that “No one teaches you how to be homeless.”
As an OT student I was intrigued by this statement. OTs acknowledge how lifestyle changes when one becomes homeless. We focus on developing ways to address challenges that come with new daily activities such as changes in sleep and toileting routines. It was a huge eye opener that the area that she listed to be her number one challenge was a specific area that OTs address.
Dr. Stephanie Moon, who is an occupational therapist at the Student Run Clinic advocated so passionately and eloquently about the many ways that OTs can help promote health in the homeless population. She proudly stated how OTs are the “Masters of Function”, how our secret sauce is activity analysis (looking at how difficult a task may be for a person), and the importance of addressing occupational deprivation (the loss of ability to participate in activities that are meaningful). Dr. Stephanie Moon stayed true to the creativity that OTs bring to the healthcare system by sharing a story on how she compiled recycled cardboard to create an elevated surface that would allow a patient who was homeless to experience better sleep quality.
Attending the 8th Annual Interdisciplinary Health Symposium was a wonderful experience. I loved gaining different perspectives and learning about more ways to better advocate for the field of OT.