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 |

Kimberly

Student by Day, Athlete by Night

, by Kimberly

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While in the OT program, our time is taken up primarily by either being in class or studying/doing projects related to class. But for those of us who need to get out and be active and were previously athletes in high school or college, finding time to work-out is essential. Last year a group of my fellow students trained and ran the L.A. Marathon. Others take classes through USC, surf, do yoga, or form their own running groups on the beach for example. This year, in order to keep myself on a work-out schedule, I decided to train for the L.A. Triathlon. I have done all three sports (swimming, biking, and running) throughout my life, so it wasn’t too big of a jump to combine all three.

The race was this past Sunday and it was a blast! We started in Venice Beach and swam in the Pacific, then biked up Venice Blvd and Olympic Blvd to downtown L.A. The final run was right through the middle of the L.A. skyscrapers.  It was neat to be a part of something so huge and with people who were as crazy as me to sign up for the race. Of course there were also the professional triathletes who do this for a living, and those who had the thousands of dollars’ worth of gear. But the rest, like me, were just interested in trying something new and completing it for the sake of doing so. Overall it was an awesome experience and one to definitely go down in the books.

Though school is our main job right now, many of us in the program do make sure to take time to enjoy the outdoors and get active. Some call it finding balance, others say we are “OTing ourselves” and making sure we don’t get too overloaded with reading. Either way, LA is the perfect place to explore all kinds of options to stay active. Just get out there and give it a shot!

Floyd

Afternoon Tea with a Scholar

, by Floyd

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What a wonderful Sunday spent with good people, delicious food, and thoughtful reflection on who we are and what are to become. During this afternoon, I got to nibble on a variety of delightful summer and spring salads and scrumptious little desserts, while sipping an assortment of lemonades and iced teas.

I got to hear about the advocacy opportunities that OTAC (Occupational Therapy Association of California) representatives and lobbyists had when they were at Capitol Hill in Sacramento. They spoke to many city and state officials like Senator Barbara Boxer about the implementation of bills and regulations that assure integrity of occupational therapy practice in California. This makes me proud to be an OTAC member because I know that they are doing their best to fight for my rights as an Occupational Therapist and protect my profession for the future.

The most inspiring of all was our keynote speaker, Dr. Florence Clark. She spoke to us about empowering ourselves by embracing the integrity that we developed through our lived experiences and to speak up for what we believe in, no matter what. She gave a personal example our how she was negatively depicted because of her unconventional but groundbreaking research (The USC Well Elderly Study) during the late 90’s. She tells us that we must relinquish the conformity that society has portrayed us over the years and be active agents in our own learning and path as great practitioners. We are sleeping giants, and it’s time for us to wake up and be the change we want to see in the world.

Chelsea

“Flowing”

, by Chelsea

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Have you ever done something that was so engaging it made you completely forget about everything else on your mind? In occupational therapy, we call this the “flow” state because it is the point at which every move you make has a seamless connection with everything that precedes it and follows it. It is a state of deep concentration and great autonomy, in which the person experiences a perfect balance between their skill level and the level of difficulty. Why do we seek out these experiences? The result is explicit emotional satisfaction.

I experienced “flow” last weekend.

It was in San Diego, my hometown, where I had this experience after my friends and I decided to go wakeboarding. Being an avid snowboarder, wakeboarding came naturally to me, yet it was still a new and invigorating sensation. From the moment the boat lifted me out of the water, I was in the zone. It felt so awesome to be carving through the cool water with the wind whipping across my face. And the best part was being able to completely clear my mind of everything – for a few minutes I had no deadlines, no papers to think about, and no places to be… just sheer bliss. I can’t wait to help my future patients find their flow state! As for you… you may already know - what makes you flow?

Alix

Storytelling in OT

, by Alix

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This past week, I attended a fantastic seminar on the power of storytelling and deep listening in healthcare settings. I had the privilege of meeting a number of other healthcare professionals and students, including doctors, nurses, psychologists, massage therapists, physical therapists, and even a hospice chaplain. (I became very adept at defining OT!) We learned about a technique called “joint construction of narrative,” which involves listening to the patient and helping him/her to weave a story out of his/her life and illness experience. Then, we learned about the importance of “mirroring” the patient’s story, reflecting it back truthfully rather than trying to “fix” the problems. (This is harder than it sounds!)

As a former English major, I love a good story, and one of the things I like most about OT is the opportunity to hear compelling life stories from clients. Because we aren’t saddled with the same time constraints as many other healthcare professionals, we can settle in and enjoy the rich process of listening to the people we work with. I think a lot of people, especially in underserved populations, don’t have many opportunities to tell their story in a nurturing, supportive environment. So it seems like we have a responsibility to provide that environment whenever we can with OT. Anyway, off my soapbox now!  😊 Bottom line: I’m excited to be able to take storytelling from my undergrad English days all the way into a new career in OT.

Floyd

Summit on Autism

, by Floyd

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On Saturday, I went to an amazing event at UC Irvine’s Bren Events Center for KiDA’s (Kids Institute for Development and Advancement) third annual Summit on Autism where First Lady Rosalyn Carter was the keynote speaker. I learned about the newest technologies that parents and therapists can use to support their child’s learning, such as iPAD apps for kids. I also got to learn about the newest research on the vast amount of treatments and the resources that families can utilize. This was a great learning opportunity for me because I got to understand more about Autism, its impact on the family, and the positive effects of family involvement.

First Lady Rosalyn Carter, a national advocate for mental health and caregivers, founded the Carter Center’s Mental Health Task Force—a board of experts and consumers that advocate for positive change in the mental health field. She spoke about her past experiences as an advocate for mental health and how it is in our reach in ending the mental health crisis.

One very cool study that I got to learn about was about a couple that set up digital cameras in every room of their home and recorded 24 hours a day of their child’s development from birth to the age of 3. By using different movement and voice recognition systems, they were able to map out what words or babble their child said and where and what time it happened. This way, they were able to figure out what environment stimulated the most words and what the child was doing to develop his or her language.  Obviously, this is still taking them some time to gather all the information because it is over 26,000 hours of film that they have to go through. Best of luck to them!

Here’s a pic of me tabling and telling everyone about the great opportunities there is at USC’s Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy!
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