University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog


We love our cohorts! →

Dec 17, 2014, by Claire · email · Leave a comment

Third semester of the Master’s program.. check! Only one more semester to go before commencement!

The first three semesters of the Entry-Level Master’s program focus on three different immersions: mental health, pediatrics, and adult physical rehabilitation. Our entire Master’s class rotated through these immersions in smaller groups, called cohorts (A, B, C).

This semester was our last rotation—adult rehabilitation (as you may have gathered from my previous posts). Last Friday, our last final also meant that it was our last time as a cohort. SEPARATION ANXIETIES.

Coming in as a Bachelor’s-to-Master’s student, I met everyone in the fall semester. I learned so much from everyone in my cohort and loved working with each person! Our cohort Facebook group included SOAP note samples, cute baby videos, and much more! From potlucks to group google docs, these people are seriously the best.

Here are some pictures from our Cohort B(est)! And feel free to check out some other cohort pictures here on OTSC’s Facebook page.

This was us in our first semester together, mental health immersion!

And this is us just last week, at our post-finals celebration!

PC: Caitlin Ito!

Cohort Buddies forever!


Finding the Occupation in Occupational Therapy! →

Dec 8, 2014, by Claire · email · Leave a comment

What makes an occupational therapist a good occupational therapist?

The past few weeks, I have been so inspired by all the different kinds of activities that an occupational therapist can do to help individuals improve their participation in daily life activities!

One of my favorite highlights of this semester was working with a patient at my Level I Fieldwork site. He was referred to occupational therapy after a motor-vehicle accident that broke his right arm and and left leg. When we first met him, we interviewed him using the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure and found out that he wants to get back to his hairdressing job! We also learned about his interest in cooking. During our treatment sessions, we would review some exercises in preparation for an occupation-based activity, which included making mashed potatoes (I learned his recipe—absolutely delicious. It’s all about adding a lot of butter) and braiding hair! As a Level I fieldwork student, our role includes observing the occupational therapists and also possibly participating in some of the treatment process. In this case, it meant that I volunteered my hair to be braided during the treatment session, and I also ended up receiving a free head massage! Besides all the laughter, our patient was able to practice standing for longer periods of time without crutches (important for one hair-cut session!) and using his muscles in ways that he would for doing someone’s hair. We learned a lot about both occupation-as-ends and occupation-as-means, and I felt like this treatment session really showed that. Our patient was participating in a purposeful activity which he was motivated about, but the occupational therapist was also analyzing his movement and problem-solving with the patient regarding challenges that he was facing while doing the activity. That’s super cool! I look forward to his recovery so that he can keep changing people’s lives—one hairstyle at a time.
Here’s a couple pictures of me with my new hair after the treatment session:

In class, we have been learning about developing treatment plans that help improve the daily functioning of our clients. We also looked at different kinds of adaptations that may be used in the kitchen. Here are some things that we did—a pie in time for Thanksgiving and a big brunch potluck in our occupations lab.

We are moving into our finals week—best of luck to all students, and I will update again soon!


Learning Handy Skills! →

Nov 12, 2014, by Claire · email · Leave a comment

This week, our adult rehabilitation course is focusing on hand rehabilitation and making splints! Here are some pictures of the splints that we made in lab:



There’s a lot to learn and I could definitely improve on some of the splints that I made, but it was fun to practice the skill! We made a neoprene thumb splint that is commonly used for children with cerebral palsy in our pediatrics lab course last semester. Now I have many more to add to my splint collection!

We will be having a guest lecture from an adjunct faculty, Lisa Deshaies, who also works at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center also (in about half an hour actually), and I’m really looking forward to it! Our textbook reading for this week was a chapter that was written by her as well—we are really lucky to have so many experienced OT faculty members and connections!

EDIT: We just wrapped up our guest lecture! I learned a lot about hand therapy and physical agent modalities, and Lisa also helped dispel any fears we might have about pursuing hand therapy certification. We got to try out some of the equipment and therapy techniques. We were told, “If you’re going to use these methods on your patients, you should know what the experience is like!”

Here are some pictures:

Cold Therapy: Instead of buying fancy ice cups, you can make your own by freezing water in styrofoam cups and peeling off the bottom!

Heat Therapy with Paraffin: Taken place in our occupations lab. My classmates and I got to experience what it feels like to use paraffin wax!


Gardening as an occupation →

Nov 3, 2014, by Claire · email · Leave a comment

One of the goodies that I picked up from OTAC a couple weeks ago was a little plant set with forget-me-not seeds! While taking a break from studying, I decided to plant it and see what happens! Given my lack of experience with gardening, I consider this pretty adventurous of myself! I called my grandpa who lives back at home to tell him that I planted some seeds, because his favorite occupation is gardening. It was super fun to bond with my grandpa and share in this occupation which is so meaningful to him. He has been gardening for over twenty years now and he often complains about the squirrels and birds eating the fruit from his trees.

He told me to be patient with plants (I was saying that I wanted the seeds to sprout already), and that you plant the seeds with hope and feel a lot of joy when you see them grow. A couple days later, some sprouts came out, and I was surprised by how happy I felt seeing them!

Caring for a small plant can be a really good activity. I interned at the occupational therapy department of a Taiwanese mental health hospital a couple years ago, and planting seeds was an activity that we did with the patients in the acute ward. It was so inspiring to see the patients reflect on times when they had gardened in the past or relate to times when they had to patiently wait for something; every member planted some seeds and they all left the session with their individual potted plant. I thought it was a great way to engage these patients in a healthy occupation and give them a sense of responsibility and control over something.

Have any of you tried out any new occupations recently? Or, what are some occupations that your loved ones like to do, and have you ever had a chance to share in that experience?



Friday Quicktakes →

Oct 24, 2014, by Claire · email · Leave a comment

Happy Friday!

Today I wanted to share some snippets about my week, so here are a few photos.

This past weekend was OTAC! So great to see our faculty and alumni win awards, give presentations, and participate in the learning/networking experience!
In the student track, we got to play with some toys and make our own for pediatrics OT!

Also, here’s a shout out to Rob, one of our former student ambassadors (transformed into Rose King in support of our 2017 OT Centennial Vision float!) and Caitlin, also an occupational therapy student in the USC program!

This week, our adult rehabilitation class did an activity analysis activity. Our team was assigned to do an activity analysis on “making a snack.” We shared a lot of different yummy ideas, perused Pinterest, and decided to make some Jack-O-Lantern quesadillas to reflect our Halloween spirit!

Did you know our classroom walls are actually giant white boards? We were practicing goal writing and developing treatment plans; our teams put all our ideas on the board and our professor gave us feedback. I secretly hope someone will come into our classrooms and leave beautiful drawings one day, like these.

Have a good weekend! smile

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