University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube


Student Blog


The Sky is the Limit! →

Apr 17, 2015, by Kristy · email · Leave a comment

Recently, I had the opportunity to present at the Occupational Therapy Association of California Spring Symposium on time management strategies for adults with ADHD, specifically speaking to my development of an occupations-based group intervention.  Not going to lie, I was a bit nervous speaking to a group of practicing occupational therapists about a program that I have worked so hard on for the last year.  I was fearful for their opinion of it, their understanding of the material, and overall how the presentation would go.  Even though I volunteered to present and share my work thus far, it is still a bit scary; but I’m here to tell you it went amazing!  I couldn’t have asked for a better turn out or better experience for my first workshop!  This really speaks to the Division’s capacity to prepare us not only as practitioners, but also has professional leaders and advocates for the field.  In addition, attendees were so respectful and supportive of my ideas and my work.  In which I could not have gotten to the point I am today without the support of the Division and the curriculum, and specifically Dr. Deborah Pitts who has served as my mentor for this project from the beginning.  I’d like to share with you how this journey started and where we are headed in the future smile

Me presenting at the OTAC Spring Symposium

Last May, I was about to begin my first Level II Fieldwork with Pacific Clinics, a community-based mental health center.  My site preceptor shared with me that several of their members had a hard time managing their time and getting to appointments, these folks specifically also had a diagnosis of ADHD.  I willingly took on the opportunity to see what was out there for these individuals.  I then brought this to the attention of my faculty preceptor, and we began a literature review.  From our searches, it came to our attention that there was limited interventions out there, specifically anything occupations-based.  Therefore, we began the development of what turned into a group intervention, based in occupational perspectives, that facilitated organization and time use strategies for those with ADHD.  As my fieldwork was coming to an end, Dr. Pitts suggested I continue the development and research on this intervention in my course, Occupation-Based Programs for the Community.  Seeing the members success who experienced the intervention with me during my fieldwork, and acknowledging how much it resonated with them, served as motivation for me to continue on with the development.  It reassured me that there was a need for this, and I needed to continue my pursuit.  I spent the next 3-4 months doing lots and lots of background research on what interventions were out there, different evaluation tools, symptoms and occupational impairment for individuals with ADHD, and what solutions or data was helpful in facilitating occupational participation.  By the end of the semester, I had a completely revised manual for the intervention, and boy was I excited!  Then the question came again, what next?  I still felt that there could be more.  I could do more, I could make it better.  I could use more evidence to support the intervention and process.  Therefore, I enrolled in an Independent Study with Dr. Pitts, and I continued the revision of the facilitator manual and the participant manual.  After another 2-3 months of work, I have finally shared my ideas with others and sought their feedback, not only at the Spring Symposium I recently spoke at, but also seeking critique from experts in the field.  I anxiously await their responses and suggestions for the future with the intervention.  At this point in time, I am not sure what is the next path to take for development.  I know I am not ready to be done with it, I am hoping to seek publication on some level to be able to share with others.  But who knows what the future will hold!

So why do I share this with you?  I really want to encourage others that the sky is the limit!  You can do anything you set your mind to!  A year ago, I would have never thought I would be in the position I am in now, nor would I have told you I have such a passion for working with adults with ADHD.  The reason I am where I am today is because of the Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.  The support of faculty, design of curriculum, and fieldwork experiences, have really impacted my future as a practitioner and as a leader in the field.  They encourage you to push the envelope, don’t just settle for the minimum, go outside of the box and do something you didn’t think you could or even knew had it in you!  Without USC OSOT, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful. 

So I welcome you to the Trojan Family! You picked a good one to be a part of! Fight on!


Costa Rica!!! →

Mar 21, 2015, by Kristy · email · Leave a comment

Hola!  I recently returned from my international externship experience in Costa Rica and let’s just say it was amazing!  Before I give you all the fabulous details of my trip, I’ll give you a little bit more background on the externship itself.  During the final spring semester of the Master’s program, we are given the opportunity to learn aspects of leadership and advocacy in a different setting than our typical internships, therefore creating the externship process.  Students may go shadow at a private practice, a physician’s office, the CEO at a major hospital, the principal at a local school district, or many of us, choose to travel internationally!  International externships vary as well; some people go to other Universities and advocate for the profession or our programs at USC, for us, we worked with underprivileged children in a daycare center.  Some of my fellow classmates traveled to London, Ireland, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico, or the Philippines! The sky is the limit ☺

So back on my externship, myself, along with six other OT students were placed in a government funded daycare center in the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica.  They have very limited staff and very limited supplies, but the children were so excited to see us and play with us!  We really just provided compassion and care, and showed interest in them as individuals.  The children could have really benefited from occupational therapy services for fine or gross motor as well as social play and manners.  We played a lot of games with them, sang songs, created arts and crafts, and just got to know them. It was a really wonderful experience.  Even though we weren’t able to make huge changes in their daily activities, I hope we sparked enough desire in them to improve their quality of life.  The children were so appreciative of the time we spent with them, and I would love the chance to go back and spend even more time with them!
Even though the main reason for the trip to Costa Rica was the externship, we still had lots of time for fun!  We stayed with a host family and got to experience the real, home-cooked Costa Rican cuisine every day.  We got to go ziplining, see volcanoes, visit the hot springs, hike through the rainforest, and of course, spend lots of time at the gorgeous beaches!  Overall it was an amazing experience, and I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience it and especially with a great group of friends!  It will be one of my best memories of the master’s program!
Costa Rica

Pura vida!


Just a small town girl in a big city! →

Feb 10, 2015, by Kristy · email · Leave a comment

As I have mentioned before I am from a tiny town in Northern Minnesota, no really it is SMALL!  I graduated high school in a class of 75 students.  Needless to say, Los Angeles is NOT small, so it was a big change for me!  With that said I take every opportunity to explore this amazing city and all it has to offer.  Now, it may surprise you that I have had the time to do and see so many things while I’ve been out here as I am a student in graduate school, but let me tell you—it is all about balance!  We need to engage in activities that are meaningful to us, ahem, our occupations smile  I’ve received a lot of questions lately about what kinds of things I like to do around LA and if there is even time for them as a student.  It seemed rather fitting to compile some of the fun things to do! Now granted, I am by no means a local, but I do my best to explore!

Obviously there are the basics to do and see like sporting events, museums, and the beach, but there are tons of places to go hiking, always new restaurants (or hole in the walls) to eat at, and tv tapings to attend!  Here’s a compilation of some of my favorites!

Places to see in Los Angeles
Disneyland, Hike to Hollywood Sign, Santa Monica Pier and 3rd Street Promenade, Huntington Gardens, USC Division of OSOT, Tv Taping of Chelsea Lately, Malibu Beach, Tv Taping of Dancing with the Stars, Exposition Park

More places to see in Los Angeles
Los Angeles Zoo (new and old), Ellen!, Arts District, Rose Parade, Venice Beach, USC Football Game, Walt Disney Studios, Staples Center - Sports Events or Concerts, Hiking on Echo Mountain

Food galore, need I say more?

What are your favorites? Tell me if there is somewhere I need to go! Or let me know if you have questions of somewhere I have been!


Time Flies! →

Jan 21, 2015, by Kristy · email · Leave a comment

It seems as if I just started the program yesterday, but here we are in the final semester preparing for the comprehensive exam, graduation, fieldwork, and then the national board exam! Woah!  But before I get to all that, first I get to enjoy my final semester as a Master’s student by taking electives! This is one of the unique things that USC has to offer because this is our chance to “specialize” within a “generalist” degree.  What does that really mean?  We get to pick additional coursework to take based on our interested area of practice, so we could “specialize” in pediatrics, wellness, rehabilitation, etc.  One week in, I am very happy with the elective options I have chosen because it is really information that I want to know more about and find myself very engaged in the reading and can relate it to future practice. 

But one course I am taking is actually a course I more or less made up myself! We are given the opportunity to complete an Independent Study or Independent Directed Research.  I have mentioned in my previous blogs about a project I started last summer while I was in my Level II Fieldwork at a community based mental health wellness center.  During my time there, the site identified a need for a group intervention for adults with ADHD.  So I hit the ground running, researching different interventions that are currently out there and nothing seemed to fit just right, so I made my own.  Throughout the summer, I spent time writing, rewriting, researching, reading, and presenting all the material I had found, and by the end I had the first draft of a facilitator and participant manual for a group intervention for Adults with ADHD on time management and organization skills.  I would not have been so successful if it hadn’t been for the mentorship of the faculty at USC who guided me through the process and encouraged me to further develop the program during my fall course “Occupation-Centered Programs for the Community.” During this time, I revised the manual again and continued to research what was currently out there.  I even had the opportunity to attend a conference by the Allen Cognitive Network where they highlighted some current interventions in time management.  So this leads me to my independent study!  I will continue the development and revisions of the manuals as well as be presenting at the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Spring Symposium.  I am so excited to pursue this opportunity and feel so lucky to have a program and Division that supports me in my interests and academic pursuits!  Occupational therapy is a broad, diverse field that has many niches so there are constantly opportunities to pursue a passion of yours that you didn’t even know existed! Follow your passion smile


Fieldwork →

Nov 30, 2014, by Kristy · email · Leave a comment

Last week we finished up our Level I Fieldwork opportunities so I thought I would take some time and give you a little bit more background about what these experiences look like smile  One of the unique things about the program here at USC is that fieldwork experience is built into our coursework within the Immersions.  As students, we are placed in 3 different Level I Fieldworks, which align with which immersion you are in - Adult Rehabilitation, Mental Health, or Pediatrics.  The first two fieldwork opportunities occur in our first year of the program.  I started in the Mental Health immersion, so my first Level I was at a Community-Based Mental Health Wellness Center.  This was a very interesting experience as it was my second semester of graduate school (can’t forget about summer term!) and there was no occupational therapist at my setting.  I was very nervous about not having someone to shadow but part of the experience is just learning about the population you are working with.  I was fortunate enough to chat with individuals and hear their life stories as well as lead groups and meet with individuals one-on-one to facilitate lifestyle changes.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and thought it was a great learning experience!  The next semester I was in the Pediatric Immersion and was placed at a local school district.  This was fantastic for me since I hope to go into School-Based Practice.  I loved being able to work with the children and plan creative activities for them to do.  I learned a lot about working with multiple children at one time, planning therapeutic obstacles, and creating educational games.  Being in a school district is also a great opportunity to learn about interdisciplinary teams as you work with classroom teachers, physical therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, among others.  Lucky for me, this experience confirmed by desire to work in this area of occupational therapy!  My last Level I experience was for the Adult Rehabilitation immersion, and was at an outpatient therapy clinic, specifically working with hands.  I learned a lot of what it takes to “prep” muscles for therapy, such as why you would use heat or ice.  In addition, I learned about different types of exercises and stretches you can do for the joints and muscles of the fingers, hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow.  Overall, this was a great opportunity for me to learn about an area of occupational therapy that I didn’t know anything about.

In addition to Level I Fieldwork opportunities, we also are placed at two Level II Fieldwork sites.  The first one occurs between your first and second year in the program, after you have completed two Level I experiences.  My first Level II was at a Community-Based Mental Health Wellness Center (yes- same type of setting as my Level I if you’re still with me!).  I pursued this opportunity as it was a setting I very much enjoyed and thought I had a lot more to learn about!  And boy was I right!  The Level II experience is for 12 weeks full-time.  I was able to lead groups, meet one-on-one with clients, facilitate a workshop on time management, and conduct a relaxation workshop.  I was given the chance to create my own experience and sought out many educational opportunities!  One included the beginning development of a group intervention for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but stay tuned for more on this later!  I have yet to complete my second Level II fieldwork, but am excited for what experiences that will bring.

Fieldwork experiences are great chances to learn more about the field of occupational therapy and explore different settings that you may not have done before.  USC is unique in that we have 5 opportunities throughout our program and they are all different experiences!  Everyone’s is a little bit different, but they are all great!!!

Page 1 of 3 pages  1 2 3 >