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


Electing the Right Electives →

Feb 21, 2015, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

When it comes to your second to last semester of OT school, choosing electives can be a lot of fun! However, it can also be tough if you have many interests. All of them had sparked a bit of my interest throughout my time in OT school at USC. I found selecting electives to be a challenging experience because I wanted to soak up information from many of them! In a previous blog post I mentioned the process of selecting electives, so in this post I wanted to share with you some vidoes/photos in action of my time in these courses.

OT 574 Enhancing Motor Control for Occupation
This course is AWESOME! Students taking this course have the opportunity to understand the principles and methods for remediation of movement impairments following upper motor neuron lesions (ex. Stroke). Our time is spent at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center composed of lectures, laboratory experiences, discussions, etc. This course has a lot of hands-on components, which is great for me as a kinesthetic learner.

Here is a brief video of me trying Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS), also known as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) on myself. EMS can be used on some patients to elicit muscle contraction using electric impulses.

OT 578 Therapeutic Communication for the Healthcare Practitioner
For 2 units, this course has definitely taught me principles and practice of a variety of therapeutic communication skills, including motivational interviewing, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Much of health care today involves helping individuals manage conditions whose outcomes can be influenced by lifestyle change. After learning aspects of motivational interviewing (MI), I find myself putting MI into practice with individuals that I’m working with now! We just had our last class this past Tuesday ☹.

Here is our class photo:

OT 583 Lifestyle Redesign
This was definitely on my list during the selection process due to the unique nature of this course. The practice of Lifestyle Redesign is an innovative treatment approach that was developed here at USC! Lifestyle Redesign is the process of acquiring healthier habits and routines in your everyday life. I really love learning how to collaborate with patients to address their needs, provide education and help them set and attain their goals! What is awesome about this approach is that it really allows the patient to be in the driver’s seat, and the occupational therapist as the passenger. ☺ As we learn the components of Lifestyle Redesign in this course, we also get to practice by working with one of our classmates to really implement lifestyle change in their own lives!

Here is a photo of one of our sessions taking place outdoors in a relaxing manner(no faces shown due to protect privacy of patient):
Here is a photo of one of our modules we get to develop in class:

OT 500 Optimal Living with Multiple Sclerosis
I have nothing but great things to say about this course! As occupational therapy students we get to learn how to work with people who have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) using Lifestyle Redesign intervention. This course allows me to utilize the skills I have learned in both my OT 578 Therapeutic Communication for the Healthcare Practitioner course, as well as OT 538 Lifestyle Redesign.  We also gain experience running a group module, along with working individually with one to two participants from the community (recruited by the National MS Society). We also get to work with 2nd year physical therapy students and co-treat twice during the semester! I have been working with two participants this semester and the process has been great! I really love the experience I am gaining through this course.

Here is a before photo of one of my sessions with one of my participants:
Here is a photo of items my counterpart and I used for one of the group modules to discuss roles and engagement of occupations:
Here are two photos of another group module discussing and practicing adaptive equipment to participants:

This is just a taste of some of the course the division has to offer to students, there are plenty of others you can choose from. Here is the elective courses link if you are interested in looking through the courses we have to offer.

This semester has been quite busy for me, hence the lack of blogging ☹… I know, shame on me! Regardless, I still try to make some time for me by engaging in some of the occupations I love: ☺



Spring Semester →

Jan 12, 2015, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

Today is the first day back to school after a much needed 4 week break! With a new year in place, my mind and body is refreshed and ready to conquer the last semester. This semester is different from the rest because we are able to choose electives! Part of our curriculum is that we are required to take 12 units of electives, but we aren’t able to do so until our last spring semester. Many of us look forward to this semester because we have the opportunity to select specialty practice/topic courses of our choice! Whether it’s building your motivational interviewing skills, gaining a better understanding of dysphagia through the lifespan, or delving deeper into Sensory Integration Theory, there are many classes to choose from. During this semester, you also have the opportunity to take other electives to gain more clinical experience, participate in a research project or take a class outside the OT division. It’s really a great opportunity for us as occupational therapy students to gain more knowledge and expertise on areas of our interest.

This semester also includes a Leadership Capstone class, where we learn how to be leaders in our profession! Like I mentioned in my last blog, this class includes a 2 week leadership externship where we go to different sites to learn and showcase our leadership skills. This is a personalized experience for each student and the opportunities out there are vast! Over the break, I finalized my decision to go to Costa Rica and will be joining 6 other students! A group of seven of us will be split into two groups where we will be placed in two projects: either volunteering at an orphanage or with a street children project. We will be leaving March 1st, which is fast approaching! I’m extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to the experience. As you can see, the spring semester is quite the change from our previous semesters. Both exciting and challenging!

During my winter break I didn’t do much but enjoy the time off to relax and engage in my favorite occupations. smile Here is a collage of photos from my relaxing break!


Winter Break! →

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

Last week was our final week of the Fall Semester, and as exciting as it is to be one more semester closer to graduation it is also a little sad. As 2nd year students, we have now completed our final immersion in our cohorts. The Entry-Level Master’s program focuses on three different immersions: mental health, pediatrics, and adult physical rehabilitation. During our first summer semester we were split into cohorts (A, B or C). My final immersion was in pediatrics, which meant it was also my last class with cohort A-mazing. smile It has been a great experience getting to know the great individuals in my cohort and see them grow. I know our immersions and complementary classes have done a great job thus far in preparing us to become amazing occupational therapists.




Next semester will be our final semester of classes. We will have the opportunity to take electives of our choice, as well as participate in a Leadership Externship. All 2nd year students will complete the externship in their final semester as part of the Leadership Capstone course. The externship is a two-week experience where students have the opportunity to build on their leadership skills. Students are responsible for finding and coordinating these externships. The places that you can choose to go to are diverse! I’m planning to complete my externship in a Spanish speaking country- possibly Costa Rica or Peru! I’m beyond excited and I can’t wait to share with you all about this amazing opportunity. Until then I will be enjoying my four-week winter break!



Flying Through Fall Semester →

Dec 2, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

Hi everyone! I hope that you’re all doing fantastic!

The fall semester is quickly coming to an end and time sure does fly by when you are having fun. I want to apologize for the lack of blog posts, but I promise I will be coming back with more! (As soon as finals are over smile) I wanted to share a little bit about the current immersion that I am in. Currently, I’m in my pediatrics immersion and it has been an amazing experience. Before starting this immersion I had little experience working with children. I mean, I’ve tutored children before and I have younger cousins…does that count? ☺

So coming in I knew very little about the developmental stages, the variety of diagnoses seen, occupational therapy interventions, etc. Fast forward 12 weeks, and I’m feeling a lot more knowledgeable. ☺ Similar to my other immersions, my fieldwork experience has provided me with the opportunity to apply what I learn! It’s also great to see practicing occupational therapists in action. It’s really amazing what OT’s advocate and more importantly what the children can do!

Two weeks ago in our pediatrics immersion we had the opportunity to come up with an adaptive device out of cardboard. Talk about being creative, but it’s okay because we are OT’s! Afterwards, we had to present an infomercial in front of the class.

Check out the video below! Warning: Video contains some comic relief and puns. LOL


OTAC Conference 2014 →

Nov 10, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

I have been so caught up with school work that I almost forgot to blog about OTAC! Nearly two weeks ago I was able to attend The Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference. I knew this would be a great learning and networking opportunity. I attended the student track both Friday and Saturday, and was able to attend two other sessions of my choice on Sunday. Not only did I enjoy all of the sessions, it was a great opportunity for me to mingle with fellow OT’s, as well as OT students from other programs.

Some of the student track sessions consisted of topics covering stress management, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, mental health within a pediatric setting and making a fine motor tool kit! Did I mention free stuff? You also have the opportunity to meet potential employers, awesome OT related organizations, check out companies with innovative products and receive tons of free stuff like swag bags, pens, earbuds, etc. It was pretty awesome to say the least! I would definitely recommend attending (or volunteering) regardless if you are in OT school or not.

Fortunately, I was able to capture some of the awesomeness on camera!

OTAC 2014 from Leila Abulashin on Vimeo.

Be sure to check out our division Instagram @uscchanosot and the Occupational Therapy Student Council instagram @otsctrojans for photos from the conference and future events!

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