OS/OT Student Blog
Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend The Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Annual Conference. It was my first OT Conference and I had a blast! I participated in the student track, which I really enjoyed because we had a variety of sessions throughout the days, some focusing on stress management, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, and fine motor tools.
Since I want to go into school-based pediatrics, there were several sessions that I thoroughly enjoyed! The presenters had a lot of great ideas for tools and activities to do with children. One of the sessions was about putting the “Fun” in “Functional,” insert Therapy Fun Zone!!! They showed us many different activities we could work on to target sensory systems, hand strength, grasp, and visual skills. Another interactive session that focused on fun tools for kids was by Mama OT. What was great about this session, is she provided us with a lot of home items into creative items. The creator of Mama OT was an USC Occupational Therapy Graduate who saw the overlap of being a new mom and a new occupational therapist and wanted to share with others! One thing I love about the field of occupational therapy is that people are always willing to help others do better in their career. It’s great to follow blogs, facebook, or Pinterest boards to see what other occupational therapist are up to. Can you guess what we did with the items below?
Other great aspects of the OTAC conference included the social and mingling aspects. There were evening gatherings as well as exhibit halls that allowed us to interact with other occupational therapists and occupational therapy students. I personally enjoyed chatting with other OT students and comparing/contrasting what we were currently learning in class. And did I mention all the free stuff we got??? Pens, reusable bags, pencil grips, tools, etc., which all can be used to promote occupational therapy! Lastly, I can’t believe I almost forgot—to check out all the awesome pictures from the weekend, search #otacconf2014 on instagram. OTs use a lot of social media, and they had a competition using the hashtag. Overall, I really enjoyed the conference and see the benefit not only educationally, but personally as well. It excites me even more about becoming an occupational therapist and being out in the field soon!
Recently we had to write a paper for one of our courses, Health Promotion and Wellness. It essentially required us to look at our own lives, and be our own OT! It is amazing to me that even though we learn all of this great knowledge in the classroom and apply it to our patients, we rarely have time to apply it to ourselves. I chose to discuss my stress experience and come up with a way to better manage my stress. Why am I so stressed you might ask? Sometimes it is difficult to manage my time as a student, worker, friend, and a person! One thing that is wonderful about USC is that we have so many opportunities to be involved, but for someone like me, I tend to be overly involved and love to do EVERYTHING. We have several student organizations on campus, there are many opportunities to volunteer, and many educational conferences or workshops to attend. Some student organizations include the Occupational Therapy and Science Council or Student Run Clinic. This weekend I will be attending the Occupational Therapy Association of California annual conference, and upcoming in the next month I will be going to the OT/PT Forum and the Student Run Clinic Symposium. I love learning as much as I can about the field of occupational therapy as well as advocating for the field. Another thing that has been going on this week is Fieldwork! All week! This is one of my favorite times of the semester because we do not go to our regular scheduled classes, but instead we attend our fieldwork all week so we can really immerse ourselves and see what it is like to be there full-time. I am currently at an outpatient occupational therapy clinic, primarily focusing on hand rehabilitation. It is a really interesting experience, and I have a lot to learn! There are surprisingly a lot of things that could happen to just your hands, wrist, or elbow! As someone who has come into the program wanting to work in pediatrics, this really opened my eyes to another venue of occupational therapy, and who knows, one day maybe I would end up in a setting like this! This goes to show you the importance of engaging in our fieldwork experiences and taking advantage of the learning process. By the end of the program, I will be placed in 5 different settings. And this is still only a small sample of the many areas that you can work in as an occupational therapist!
Oh, and don’t worry about me and my stress level, I have come up with strategies to manage my stress. One way I hope to manage my stress is by engaging in some of my old occupations, like playing tennis or figure skating. I can’t wait to start incorporating these activities into my daily routines! And also engaging in some of my newer favorite occupations, like baking, as I type this, I have banana bread baking in the oven! Yum!
Why you might ask? Being a member of both your national and state level professional associations is just one way to advocate for the field of occupational therapy. As students in the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, we are encouraged to be members of both the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Occupational Therapy Association of California. As members, we have many opportunities to connect and network with other occupational therapists in the field, as well as collaborate on our ideas. Read on to learn a bit more about each organization, and check out their websites as they have useful information regarding the field of occupational therapy for you to explore as prospective students and future occupational therapists!
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the professional association for the field of occupational therapy. The mission statement for The American Occupational Therapy Association is to “advance the quality, availability, use, and support of occupational therapy through standard-setting, advocacy, education, and research on behalf of its members and the public.” AOTA represents the interests and concerns of practitioners and students in order to provide the best occupational therapy services possible.
The Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) is the professional association for the State of California. Their mission statement is to “serve, support, and promote the profession of occupational therapy and its practitioners.” As a member of OTAC, you can promote, advocate and serve as a leader within the field of occupational therapy. Coming up next week is the 2014 Annual Conference for OTAC. This is a great opportunity to network and learn more about what is currently going on in the field of occupational therapy. The conference occurs over several days and includes workshops, poster presentations, exhibits, and a feature presenter. I will be attending the conference this year and am very excited for a fun-filled weekend of occupational therapy. Stay tuned for updates on the conference and my experience there!
As you have seen, or heard, or maybe not, our division recently received a large donation in which a renaming ceremony took place. We are now called the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. It was such an honor to be a part of this historic ceremony! And I do really mean HISTORIC, this is the first time any division of occupational therapy has been given a monetary amount of this multitude. We all at the Division feel very lucky that the Chan family donated money to our division to expand the research of occupational science and occupational therapy, and also increase our international relations, specifically with our colleagues in China.
Historic moments are nothing new to our Division. Did you know USC had the first post-professional degree program in occupational therapy in 1947? Or that in 1962, USC established the nation’s first two-year entry-level master’s degree? Or in 1989, USC created the world’s first doctoral program in occupational science? It is no wonder that we have remained ranked the #1 occupational therapy graduate program in the nation for more years than all other educational programs combined! For more on history of USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, visit this link
Fight on, Trojans! Fight on!
As I get back into the swing of things with my classes and being at school each day, it is easy to lose sight of the things that mean most to us - our occupations! While being a student certainly is a meaningful activity for me, it is not the only one! It already is proving to be a challenge for me to continue to engage in my favorite occupations such as hiking, baking, playing with my dogs, hanging out with friends, watching movies, and exercising. Our occupations can have an impact on our health and well-being in our daily lives as well as how we feel physically, emotionally, or socially. Therefore, it is very important to be able to self-reflect on what makes us happy or satisfied each day. I know that if I do not take time to spend with my dogs each day, I feel unsatisfied with my day, that is why each morning before I leave for school and each evening we go for long walks; this is not optional for me, it is something of importance that keeps me going, so I have learned to prioritize my time, and it kills two birds with one stone - spending time with my dogs and exercising! Time is a balancing act, we never feel as if we have enough time, although really it is all about how we perceive our time and how well we use our time. Time management as a student is extremely important. I have learned this over the years, and while I feel I manage my time well, I never understood the importance of continuing to engage in occupations until I started the OT program last summer. It pays to pay attention in school, don’t just sit by and learn about how we can help others engage in their occupations, help yourself! Do not let yourself forget what means most to you! Yes being a student is important, but taking care of yourself is necessary as well. I encourage you all to make it a point this week to engage in activities that are meaningful to you!