University of Southern California
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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OS/OT Student Blog


New name, new initiative! →

Sep 26, 2014, by Claire · Leave a comment

Last Wednesday was a super exciting day for USC OT! With a $20 million dollar naming grant, our division is now called USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Students, faculty, and many distinguished guests including former AOTA president and USC alumnus Mary Foto, who I had the honor to escort. President Nikias came to make the announcement, along with our marching band (it’s not a big event without our Trojan Marching Band)!

As students, we received the invitation to attend the “historic announcement” a couple weeks before the event. Leading up to the announcement, we were all wondering what it would be: a new building? a new program? TUITION WAIVED?!

It was really inspiring to hear USC trustee Ronnie Chan share his vision to unite efforts with USC to expand OT to others areas in the world, such as China. We could all tell this was a very special moment for their entire family. Having studied abroad in China during my undergrad and interned at an occupational therapy department in Taiwan, I would really love to see occupational therapy and East Asia come together even more closely. Our global initiative has really taken off with the MAI program and this past summer’s first international language exchange program, and I’m excited to see how this outreach will continue to grow!

This event made it to our USC headline news, and it was also really exciting to see how this announcement is gathering a lot of attention from other USC students. “Oh you study OT? Didn’t you guys just get a huge donation? That’s awesome!” It has been a great way to have a conversation about what OT is and why it’s awesome!

Because of our new name, all of our social media usernames are also being updated. If you haven’t been following, you can check out all the social media links on our website. We like to instagram smile
Also, how does everyone like our new website? The photos are of our actual students and faculty – many of my classmates were going through and finding themselves on the website. (Leila made it in! Can anyone find her? raspberry)


White coats, scantrons, and football, oh my! →

Sep 5, 2014, by Claire · Leave a comment

Happy Friday! Last week, our division held the white coat ceremony for our MAI, MAII (including BS-MA), and OTD students. It was very exciting to see everyone look so professional (and spiffy) in their white coats. I remember when taking the oath last year, I was very inspired by what occupational therapists value and strive to do in their practice. Congratulations to all of you!

This week is our second week of class! I am currently in the adult physical rehabilitation immersion, and the course has taken on a new format known as Team-Based Learning, where learning takes place in a team setting as opposed to traditional teaching styles like lecture. In general, the process is: 1. Pre-readings 2. Individual Readiness Assurance Test (IRAT) 3. Group Readiness Assurance Test (GRAT) 4. Reviewing Test 5. Case Applications. To be honest, some of us were a little skeptical about the model when it was first introduced to us. Personally, I was worried about completing the pre-reading and missing information that would have been presented in a lecture. However, our professors continually referenced the research behind this style of teaching and we had our first “RAT”s this week. I found myself much more engaged in the entire process – our adrenaline was definitely running and it encouraged active discussion. Plus, the GRAT is a scratch-off scantron and there’s something exciting about seeing a star on your scantron to notify your team that the answer chosen is correct. I’m interested in seeing how the rest of the semester will play out!

Last weekend we kicked off the football season with a win against Fresno State. Tomorrow USC takes on Stanford. I know several friends who are trekking up to NorCal this weekend for the game (we call it the “weekender”). Fight on!


Goodbye, Summer! Hello, Fall semester! →

Aug 26, 2014, by Claire · Leave a comment

Hello again!

It has been a fantastic summer full of learning, and it’s good to be back. To pick up where we left off from my first post, commencement was great! Dr. Elizabeth Yerxa was our commencement speaker, and I felt like all of us were a little starstruck because she is such a distinguished member in the field of occupational therapy. The following Monday, I began my first Level II Fieldwork at a private pediatric clinic called PlaySteps in Northern California. It was an incredible experience because I was able to have some kids on my own caseload and the occupational therapists there provided great mentorship. I learned pretty quickly that observing a therapist working with a kid is very different from actually treating the kid yourself. It seems to require many years of experience to have reflexes as fast as the therapists’ that I observed during fieldwork! One of the highlights from this summer was being able to build up rapport with the kids and think of creative activities that match with their interests. For example, one kid that was on my caseload had difficulty keeping up with his peers during writing tasks and we worked on handwriting together. He told me that he was reading the Magic Tree House book series recently, which I was excited about because I read them when I was a kid too! We decoded mystery notes with number-letter codes. It was fun! One fulfilling moment was when we finished a session, and a kid casually commented while leaving, “I like OT.” WHOOHOO! One challenge for me was maintaining flexibility with how a session may go – sometimes a kid doesn’t show up, other times an activity simply doesn’t go as planned. I definitely felt myself grow in the skills of a pediatric occupational therapist, but also recognized that there are many many many things left to learn.

Here’s to another great school year!


One Step Closer →

Aug 21, 2014, by Claire · Leave a comment

It is a couple days before USC Commencement 2014! It’s hard to believe that my time as an undergraduate at USC is officially coming to an end. “Officially,” because I feel like I’ve been done with my undergrad for forever, but now I’m finally getting the diploma! Hooray! People often get confused about my class standing, actually. (“So… you’re both an undergrad and grad student right now…?”) I technically finished all my undergraduate credits in my third year and this past year was my first year Master’s. When I tell friends that I’m staying another year, they think I’m a super senior when actually it’s to wrap up the master’s degree in occupational therapy. Talk about some identity crisis!

So, we are done with the first year in the program!! Most of us have two weeks off until the start of Level II fieldwork. This year has been absolutely amazing. I befriended so many talented classmates with a huge variety of backgrounds that all the passion to become occupational therapists. The faculty has lots of experience (seriously, mad respect for them). The two immersions that I went through this year were mental health and pediatrics. This summer, my Level II fieldwork will be at a pediatric clinic in Northern California. Part of me is super excited and another part of me is going EEPS! I am sure it will be a very valuable learning experience, and I’m looking forward to it.

Looking back to my first moments at USC, it has been so cool to see how OT is now a much more well-known area of study among the students. When I came in to USC with a Pre-Occupational Therapy emphasis, I remember needing to explain what OT is to basically every person that I met. (Wow, this is a major throwback to four years ago. I’ll try not to be too sentimental.) Now, I’m meeting a lot of first and second year undergrads who are already applying into the OT program, which is awesome! I am aware that the program is becoming increasingly competitive, and some of my advice to undergrads is to get involved! I was active in the USC Pre-OT club, which was a great way to see OT in practice. USC OT elective classes are informative, fun, and a good way to meet faculty (hint: letters of recs!). Volunteering and getting as much exposure to OT is also definitely recommended—that’s how I first learned about OT too! I was in high school trying to collect some community service hours to graduate and I met OTs at the center that I was volunteering at. I loved the idea of improving health and development through fun (we were working with children), did some research about OT, and found myself here at USC.

There’s so much to learn still about OT! I will be keeping you updated as the summer goes on! Congratulations to the Class of 2014, hooray, everyone!