Lessons in leadership
January 16, 2020
What I learned during my capstone externship with Katie Jordan.
Academics and Courses Associations and Bodies Faculty Students
By Melissa Martinez MA ’19, OTD ’20
The USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy strives to prepare future clinicians who will become leaders in the field. Leadership themes and training are woven into our entire curriculum, including a leadership capstone course during our final semester of the master’s degree program. As part of my externship for this course, I shadowed Dr. Katie Jordan, hoping to learn more about what her leadership roles at USC entail.
Dr. Jordan is a Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy and holds various leadership positions, including Associate Chair of Occupational Therapy Clinical Services and Director of OT and Speech Therapy at Keck Hospital of USC. In addition, she has been the chair of several committees for our state and national associations, and was recently named to the Roster of Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Her passion for advocacy and commitment to the advancement of occupational therapy is truly inspiring, and has helped guide my decisions surrounding my own career trajectory.
Katie Jordan in action
I met Dr. Jordan early Monday morning to attend her first meeting of the day. We spent the day running from one meeting to the next at Keck Hospital, the Chan Division and the Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice, with conference calls interspersed throughout the day. Despite the fast pace and inherent chaos associated with holding so many leadership roles, Dr. Jordan was calm and collected at every turn. In addition, she consistently made it a point to educate me on the purpose of each meeting or call, which allowed me to feel fully immersed in the experience.
In my time shadowing Dr. Jordan, I came to realize that she was often the only person representing — and advocating for — occupational therapy. In meetings filled with physicians, nurse practitioners and hospital administrators, it was immensely motivating to see how respected she was by these individuals and that they often sought her input to assist in conflict resolution or program implementation. Although it might seem like things have always been this way to an outsider looking in, I knew it was the result of her years of hard work fostering relationships. I witnessed this relationship-building in action, with Dr. Jordan often asking a physician about their recent vacation, an administrator about their daughter’s dance recital or a physical therapist about their recent move. She always took the time to check in with those who she interacted with, which is a quality of a good leader.
Being a leader is much more than one’s list of accomplishments. Although Dr. Jordan has many accomplishments to be proud of, she’s also a terrific example of balance. On top of her many leadership roles at USC, Dr. Jordan is a mother and a wife, and she takes those roles equally as seriously. Throughout my academic career, I have pursued many professional opportunities in order to build a solid foundation on which I can build my career. However, I’m constantly striving to maintain balance in my own life, which is a particularly difficult goal to achieve in graduate school. Furthermore, when I think about starting my own family one day, I often worry about having to pick between my professional pursuits and my family life. Seeing Dr. Jordan excel both professionally and personally helped reassure me that I may not have to choose between the two.
Passion for advocacy
Advocating for our profession is something I have always been passionate about. During my externship, I was invited to join the OTAC Advocacy & Government Affairs Committee and Dr. Jordan encouraged me to accept the offer. She walked me through what my participation would entail, which helped me feel increasingly at ease. Since then, I have also had the opportunity to attend AOTA’s Hill Day, where occupational therapists and students from across the country go to Washington DC to meet with various legislators and discuss current policy issues that impact our practice. Thanks to my time with Dr. Jordan, I felt prepared to advocate for our profession and take full advantage of this networking opportunity.
Leadership in fieldwork and my path to the OTD
Pursuing the Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree at USC has been a dream of mine for many years, and working alongside Dr. Jordan reassured me that I am on the right path. During these past six months I have been busy completing my clinical hours in two different fieldwork settings. Although one was in pediatrics and the other in physical rehabilitation, I found that there were common themes throughout both experiences. These themes included fostering interprofessional relationships and educating patients and their families on our profession, all of which I witnessed while shadowing Dr. Jordan. Following my externship, I felt prepared to embrace a leadership role in my fieldwork settings, which included advocating for occupational therapy while attending rounds with residents and physicians, working with other rehabilitation professionals to enhance patient care and providing teaching sessions to occupational therapists on my team. I look forward to refining my leadership skills this upcoming year as I embark on the final chapter of my academic journey. I believe that the concepts and skills taught in the clinical doctorate program at USC will give me the confidence to fulfill my goals of becoming a leader in the field of occupational therapy, just like Dr. Jordan.