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


Let’s Talk Fieldwork – Part II: School-Based Pediatrics

, by Caroline · 1 comment

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In my previous blog post I explained how Level I and Level II Fieldwork experiences work in our program at USC, and shared about my previous Fieldwork placements. As promised, this blog is devoted to my current Level I Fieldwork experience!

I am in the Pediatrics Immersion, which means that my Fieldwork is also in a pediatric OT setting. I’ve been placed in a local school district, so I get to see school-based pediatrics. I was really excited when I first got my placement, because I had observed pediatrics before, but not in a school-based setting, so this would be a new experience for me! I spend most of my time at an elementary school, but my Clinical Instructor (CI) and I also go over to a local high school to treat some students there as well.

I just had my 3rd day at my Fieldwork site, and I have already gotten to observe and assist with so many different things! Because my CI has a pretty consistent schedule, I get to see the same kids each week. This allows me to see growth and change in the clients, helps them to become more comfortable with me, and gives me the opportunity to begin planning and leading treatments with them as I become more familiar with them, their goals, and their interests.

The elementary school where I’m placed has a pretty unique setup, because my CI has an awesome OT clinic room all to himself – mats, obstacle course, swings, and all! With all of the materials and resources, there are so many possibilities for treatment and intervention, which is so exciting!

Clinic space at my school-based Fieldwork setting

Here you can see the OT clinic space at the elementary school. Lots of space for obstacle courses, movement, and fun!

Table-top space in my school-based Fieldwork setting

The OT clinic also has a great table-top setup to work on handwriting and other fine motor skills!

A Typical Morning at my School-Based Fieldwork Site:

8:15 – Arrive, plan for the clients that day, prepare any materials needed.

9:00-9:30 – Pull a client out of class for an individual OT session. We used play-doh to work on hand strength, bilateral coordination (using both hands at the same time in a controlled manner), and pre-writing (by using the play-doh to spell out the client’s name).

9:30-10:00 – Pull another client out of class for an individual OT session. We used a three-step obstacle course in the clinic room to work on gross motor control (coordinating the large parts of your body, like legs, arms, and trunk to move) and task sequencing (progressing smoothly through a multi-step activity).

10:00-10:30 – Time for documentation and planning.

10:30-11:30 – We run an OT and Speech group with one of the Special Ed classrooms. We led the students through a song with choreographed dance moves (jumping, running in place, spinning) and then completed a craft activity based on the song that worked on fine motor skills (activities that require the use of the smaller body parts, such as the hands and fingers) like handwriting, cutting, coloring, tearing paper, and squeezing glue.

11:30-12:00 – Time for documentation and planning.

12:00-12:30 – Lunchtime (in the teacher’s lounge! It’s definitely not as mysterious as my elementary-school aged self thought it was smile ).

The mornings are pretty consistent, but the afternoons have a little bit more variability. Sometimes, we have meetings with parents and the rest of the team at school (Speech Therapists, Teachers, Psychologists, etc.) to address concerns or for an annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. At these meetings, it’s really cool to see the inter-disciplinary team working together to best support the individual child in the school environment. Other afternoons, we’ll go over to the nearby high school and work with some of the clients over there. I’ve enjoyed getting to see what school-based OT looks like for elementary-school aged children compared to high school students.

I’ve only had 3 days of Fieldwork, but I’m seeing individual clinic sessions with elementary and high-school aged students, group sessions, IEP and parent meetings, and more! My CI is also very open to me jumping in, taking charge, and planning and implementing some sessions with the kids. As I continue to learn more in my pediatrics class and am exposed to more at Fieldwork, I expect I’ll get more and more comfortable taking on more responsibility at Fieldwork!

My full week of fieldwork is coming up in a couple of weeks, so I’m looking forward to seeing even more clients! If you’ve observed OT in a school-based setting or have any questions about my experience, leave a comment below!


A Summer of Lessons From Master Wu

, by Bryan

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I never liked kids. Maybe it was growing up as an only child, or not liking loud noises or when things get too messy (sensory sensitivities…), I always distanced myself from having to interact with a child more than a quick smile or wave.

With that said, this past summer I spent my 12 weeks getting to know and treating children ages 4-11 at Stepping Stones Therapy Network, a pediatrics clinic in Seattle, WA. I took advantage of the out-of-area fieldwork request and took the opportunity to work in one of my favorite cities.

While I am planning to elaborate more on the process of securing an out-of-area level 2 placement and tips throughout the process in a future post, I wanted to share a few ways in which I grew as a clinician, student, and person after completing my Level 2 FW.

1.I was so prepared! I cannot stress this enough. If you put in the work throughout the semester to learn the material and listen to faculty’s tips and tricks from their own practice, you will be ready for all that comes with Level 2 FW. The hardest part about Level 2 was not the clinical reasoning needed to observe and assess a client from the multitude of OT models of practice (Sensory Integration, Biomechanical, etc.), rather the ins and outs of learning how the clinic operates and becoming more proficient with administering and scoring assessments. One of the major encouragements my clinical instructors gave me was regarding my documentation skills which I directly attributed to the fact that I was taught the OT lens in class through the case studies we discussed and from faculty’s own stories and reflections.

2. The learning does not stop. Even though I had no examinations or quizzes to study for, I spent each evening looking up treatment ideas for my clients the next day, documenting on the clients I saw that day, watching YouTube videos of BOT 2 administration for my evaluation later that week, reviewing Handwriting Without Tears, all the while trying to learn the names of Ninjago characters to better connect with the kids. Fieldwork is definitely full time!

3. I learned to have a BLAST on the weekends! The good thing about fieldwork is that you do not have to feel the dull (sometimes sharp) pressure of an upcoming exam that impedes your ability to just hang out and chill. I went on a lot of fun hikes and really explored Seattle which only helped me focus and perform better when I was at fieldwork during the week! I loved having a routine throughout the week: working, gym, meal prep, treatment planning, reading, and enjoying the city and friends I had during the weekends.

4. Make it a priority to build a relationship with your clinical instructors and coworkers. I guess this point was easy for me this summer because I was truly blessed with amazing CIs and coworkers who were not only skilled OTs, but also mindful instructors, carefully pacing my growth as a student and clinician. I wanted to be intentional with asking them about treatment ideas and career advice moving forward. What steps should I take to go into inpatient pediatrics? What do you like about working at a peds clinic? What certifications should I pursue?

Kayaking Lake Union on Weekends
Hiked Heather Lake in June

Seattle summer weather is unreal…


In the Mood for Food: Eating in LA

, by Kaitlyn

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I really love people and I also really love food. So, it makes sense that being able to share a good-tasting meal with people I care about is one of my favorite occupations. Fellow student ambassador, Erika, did a great job of naming some places you can visit in Los Angeles in her most recent blog post. Since I have been asked time and time again where the best places are to eat from students new to LA, I have decided to compile a small (yes, I said small) list of just some of my favorites based on areas around LA. Disclaimer: I am a vegetarian so some of these restaurants tend to stray on the veggie-friendly side!

Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)

- Bottega Louie | Bottega Louie is the mecca of all things Instagram-worthy and aesthetically pleasing. The restaurant itself has high ceilings, white walls, and gold accents, making for a clean look all around. My favorite: all flavors of the macarons and Portabello Fries.
- Maccheroni Republic | This Italian restaurant is on the smaller side, but they have a great outdoor patio with lights strung across the top. My favorite: Bianchi & Neri pasta (without meat).
- Mendocino Farms | The DTLA location is at FIGat7th, so make sure to stop by the other stores and dessert places around! It also gets quite busy around weekday lunches since many corporate people working downtown will go there for lunch. My favorite: Vegan Banh Mi sandwich.

Maccheroni Republic

Maccheroni Republic.

- Bossanova | Bossanova is one of those restaurants I choose when I can’t figure out where else to eat or am too lazy to figure out where to eat. Everything on this menu is so good and their portions are huge. My favorite: the Plantains.
- California Chicken Cafe | I’ve never been here when it wasn’t busy, and that’s because their wraps and salad are REALLY good and everyone knows it. They still have the best salads I’ve tasted to this day. My favorite: ironically, the Chinese Chicken Salad without the chicken.
- Republique | If you’re looking for a pretty place to eat, this is it. My favorite: Avocado Toast.



Arts District
- Urth Caffe | Urth Caffe is my go-to restaurant every single time I want to go out to eat. It has gotten to a point where my friends say to me, “Where should we eat? And don’t say Urth Caffe again.” It’s healthy, the vibe is casual, and I know it’s pretty much going to taste the same every time I go. My favorites: Hummus and Tabouli salad and Blended Green Tea Boba (I know, boba isn’t healthy but everything in moderation I always say!).
- Wurstkuche | I don’t eat meat, but from what I’ve heard the sausages are really good here! If you’re wondering what I order, I get their fries! The fries that they serve here are good. Like, really good. My favorite: Fries with Chipotle Aioli and Pesto Mayo.
- Amazebowls | When I went to undergrad at USC, Amazebowls was just a food truck on Hoover. Now, they have their own place and I can feed both my stomach and my withdrawals from Hawaii. My favorite: anything on the menu.

Urth Caffe

Urth Caffe.

Silverlake & Highland Park
- Sqirl | Sqirl is a very low key and understated place for brunch/lunch. You never would notice it just driving by! However, it is recommended time and time again by both hipsters and non-hipsters alike. My favorite: Brioche Toast with Ricotta and Specialty Jam of the Day.
- Maximiliano | The best outdoor patio for dinner and t-a-s-t-y pizza! My favorite: the Bianca-Verde Pizza.

- Cafe Mak | Cafe Mak is another place I frequented during my undergraduate years at USC. It is still my favorite cafe to study at because there is a plethora of outlets, great Wi-Fi, not many people know about it, and you can order your food at the press of a button (literally, there are buttons on the table). My favorite: Iced Vanilla Latte.
- Ubatuba Acai | My standards for acai bowls are a little high since I go to Hawaii very frequently and lived there for 3 months this past summer. I’ve tried almost every acai bowl place in the LA area and I will say that this place (and Amazebowls) are comparable to the ones in the Aloha state. My favorite: anything on the menu.

Ubatuba Acai

Ubatuba Acai.

Santa Monica
- Swingers | If you’re out in Santa Monica, this diner is the best place for late night eats. They offer food that is vegan, vegetarian, and meat-friendly! My favorite: Vegan Nachos and Stuffed Grilled Cheese.
- Blue Plate Taco | It gets pretty busy here so expect somewhat of a wait. I recommend going here for dinner after a shopping along 3rd Street Promenade or before/after visiting the pier! It’s along PCH so you get a great view of the ocean. My favorite: Veggie Tacos.

The great thing about southern California is that there is so much diversity, and with that comes a lot of diversity in food! With that being said, be open to everything and anything because there are hidden gems everywhere.



New to LA? No Worries!

, by Erika

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Every LA native has their list of go-tos to take people when they visit but they also have their smaller, more intimate list of what a friend of mine calls, “secret squirrel spots.” These are places that are just a little more special. For me, they are places that have grown my eyes a little bigger, made my heart a little softer, or tickled my tastebuds like never before. I hope that by sharing these with you all, you will find them as beautiful, meaningful, and as memorable as I have. Whether you’re new to LA or not, go, explore, and be merry!

SuihoEn Japanese Garden — Van Nuys

SuihoEn Japanese Garden, Van Nuys

An oasis in the middle of the city! It’s one of my favorite hidden places in LA and it’s only $5 to enter. As you venture through the garden, you’ll find a tea house. I’d recommend bringing some hot tea in a thermos and a friend and have yourself a little tea party overlooking the koi pond.

El Matador State Beach — Malibu

El Matador State Beach, Malibu

Being in LA, you have an entire coast of beaches to choose from! After venturing from the valley to the OC, I still reserve a special place in my heart for El Matador State Beach up by Malibu. There are rock formations there that transfer you to another planet. Climb them, crawl through them and find little crabs, or find a little cave to take a nap in!

LASA — Chinatown

LASA, Chinatown

What’s LA without good eats and what’s an LA experience without supporting local chefs? I knew these two brothers, Chad and Chase, from high school and seeing them blow up on the LA food scene featuring food I grew up with brings tears to my eyes. Born and bred in aroma-filled Filipino homes, they’ll provide you with an innovative yet authentic taste of Filipino cuisine.

The Great Wall of LA Mural — North Hollywood

The Great Wall of Los Angeles, North Hollywood

The Great Wall of Los Angeles, North Hollywood

After hearing about it for years, I only visited this gem about a year ago and regret not visiting sooner. This was a community project done by more than 400 community youth, their families, artists, oral historians, ethnologists, and scholars depicting the history of Los Angeles from 20,000 B.C. all the way up to the 1960s. It’s a half-mile long and a great way to spend the afternoon learning about the city you’ve found yourself in! Be sure to pop this into your phone ( to guide you through your historical and visually stimulating experience.

If you end up visiting any of these spots, leave a comment and let me know how you liked them!


From Undergrad to Grad life

, by Ali

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Although I am a second year in the graduate program, I technically completed my undergraduate degree in May 2017. Therefore these first few weeks of classes have been full of transition and adjustment from living on the University Park Campus to living on the west side of Los Angeles and commuting to the Health Science Campus. Here are some things I have learned:

1) Moving to a new neighborhood in a familiar city
This is my fifth year living in Los Angeles, but this is my first time living off campus in an apartment. I live in Culver City, which is a thirty minute drive from the Health Science Campus. This change of neighborhood has provided me the opportunity to find all new running routes, coffee shops for studying, and even a favorite laundromat. This move has opened up a whole new side of Los Angeles to my life.

2) The value of a planned social life
Moving off campus means that I now live on average fifteen to twenty minutes away from my friends. I can no longer just drop by my friend’s apartment unannounced or walk to the library together late on a Sunday night. I have quickly learned the necessity that is planning in advance to go out to dinner or try a new ice cream shop with a friend. These things cannot be as spontaneous as they used to be, but that just means I get to have something fun on my calendar to look forward to.

3) The abundance of USC hosted graduate student events
In just the first few weeks back to school, I have already seen the benefits and fun of being a graduate student. I went to the occupational therapy and physical therapy tailgate for our first football game. It was an easy way to be social with classmates as well as the physical therapy students, who we share a lunch patio with. I love that all the graduate school students have just as much Trojan pride as my undergraduate friends. I also attended a Los Angeles Dodgers game for five dollars organized by Graduate Student Government. There are always fun events for graduate students to opt into!

4) Everything we learn is valuable and relevant
One aspect of graduate school that has only been solidified over the past few weeks upon returning from level II fieldwork, is just how relevant all of our coursework is to our future practice. Regardless of what area we specialize in or get advanced practice in, the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy has created a curriculum that molds us into generalists of the field of occupational therapy. Each course has its own value. Readings and assignments are all important because they are informing and building our occupational therapist lenses. It is motivating to know everything we are doing in and out of the classroom is valuable.

5) Classmates in graduate school have a lot in common
Finally, as some of my undergraduate friends have moved away and out of Los Angeles, I have become closer with graduate school occupational therapy classmates. It is wonderful to be a part of a program that has students with diverse interests and backgrounds. We are all so different while simultaneously have a common interest entering a profession centered around helping people live their healthiest and happiest lives. Lunchtime is always a good time with the occupational therapy students.

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