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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Aisha

Hidden Gems and Resources ⟩
November 8, 2022, by Aisha

Life Hacks Living in LA School/Life Balance

Several resources and perks that come with being a USC student aren’t widely advertised. Here is a list of things I accidentally stumbled upon or heard by word of mouth that all students on the health sciences campus (HSC) should know about.

1. One Stop at HSC: Here, you can find discounted movie tickets, theme park tickets, and more! I love going to the movies with my friends and family, but as many of you know, movie tickets can be expensive in LA. At One Stop at HSC, you can purchase discounted movie tickets that don’t expire at Regal Cinemas, AMC Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, etc. My favorite is getting AMC tickets for $10.75 and going to the theater near Universal Studios, with comfy reclining seats!

2. Cheap food at the Keck Cafeteria: On the days you didn’t eat breakfast or pack a lunch, you can find affordable food at the Keck Cafeteria. You will need to show your student ID to enter the building. You can find the cafeteria on San Pablo St. near the Eric Cohen Student Health Center.

3. Farmers Market: Every Thursday, from around 10 am until 2 pm, there is a mini farmers market on the corner of Alcazar and San Pablo. Several vendors are selling fresh fruit, delicious food, and drinks such as pupusa, shawarma sandwiches, popcorn, and Aguas Frescas! I look forward to being on campus on Thursdays to get a tasty treat from the farmers market.

Leah

Tips for Your Personal Statement ⟩
November 4, 2022, by Leah

Admissions Life Hacks What are OS/OT?

Here are some tips and tricks on what helped me write my personal statement 😊

1. Reflect on what matters to you and see how it aligns with the school’s mission

I thought, why do I want to be an OT? I read through the division’s mission and most resonated with its commitment to inclusion. I then jotted down experiences and parts of my life that I most valued and thought related to this theme of inclusion.

2. Try finding a theme between your experiences to create a cohesive story.

This was a piece of advice I received from a previous mentor. I knew I had valuable experiences volunteering at an oncology camp, working in permanent supportive housing, and then working at a multiple sclerosis clinic. Still, these all felt like such different populations, so I needed to figure out how to share my story without feeling like I was jumping all over the place.

My mentor asked me questions such as:

How did one experience influence or lead to another?
What did you value in each of these experiences?
How did you continue to grow throughout these experiences?
Is there a commonality in how these experiences made you want to be an OT?

3. Get other eyes on your writing!

I know it can feel uncomfortable or even embarrassing to have other people look at what you have written. Still, I found it helpful to overcome that fear and get other people’s input. I wanted to see if my writing was conveying the message I wanted to share. For my statement, I had willing co-workers, mentors, and even roommates read through my essay. I received input such as: “this section is confusing” and “wow, I loved this story, focus more on that!” The most helpful thing I did was read my statement out loud with my roommate. I could identify awkward phrases, grammatical errors, and unnecessary words. Reading out loud was the most helpful in cutting my statement down to the required character count.

For all those applying this cycle, you got this!!

Leah Mary

Practice What You Preach (Seriously) ⟩
November 1, 2022, by Leah Mary

Life Hacks Living in LA School/Life Balance

In school, we are told that participating in meaningful occupations, such as playing music, dancing, hanging out with our friends, or eating, is critical for people’s physical, emotional, and mental health. However, as OTs and students, we SUCK at this! I don’t know about you, but my OT balance wheel was always filled with productive hours rather than leisure or play, and I was often burnt out by the middle of the semester.

So last year, I picked up a meaningful hobby . . . hiking! Growing up, I was always big into the outdoors. I would go camping, biking, and cannoning around the Midwest. But, in high school and college, I lost touch with that side because “I didn’t have time.” I often was studying or working and had to prioritize those occupations.

However, when COVID-19 happened, I prioritized my meaningful occupations for my well-being. During my second year in the Master’s Program, I overheard a couple of classmates talking about hiking in Santa Monica. I gravitated toward that conversation and said, “could I possibly join????” During that hike, we shared our love for the outdoors and how much hiking there is in California. We prioritized a hike every weekend and came up with the name “Trailmixers” for our hiking group. And that’s what we did. With intentional planning, we could hike almost every week and still finish our schoolwork. Because of this, I had some of the most meaningful experiences of my life with my best friends. We’ve hiked Mt Baldy, Cucamonga, San Fran, Santa Barbara, Sedona, Pinnacles National Park, Zion, camped in Big Sur, and backpacked in Catalina Island.

My “productive work” has gotten a bit busier now that I’m balancing courses, residency, and campus jobs. However, no matter what, I always make sure I have a hike planned for the weekend. I hope each and every one of you prioritize your meaningful occupations throughout this semester and in life. Because for us to be great OTs, we must practice what we preach and lead by example.

There are excellent resources to start your hiking journey. The AllTrails app can help you plan trips, Airbnb or Recreation.gov to book housing/campsites, the REI store to buy gear, and “Peaks and Professors,” an outdoors club at USC to find a community.

Yoojin

An OT (student) Needs Her Occupations! ⟩
October 31, 2022, by Yoojin

Fieldwork Living in LA School/Life Balance

I have a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy, and I’ve known what OT was for more years of my life than I have not, but this summer I rediscovered the importance of engaging in meaningful activities to add purpose to each day, especially in the midst of stressful life changes (permission granted to say “Duh!” at this point).

This summer was one of the most challenging yet rewarding summers of my life. I spent it completing my Level II fieldwork at a fast-paced outpatient pediatric clinic. Just three days after graduation, I was learning terminology that sounded like a new language, loading up on snacks and interesting podcasts for my 1.5-hour commute, and stomaching my new identity as a post-grad without a real break in between the semesters.

Unsurprisingly, I was burnt out and questioning my competency as an OT student and future clinician. To say the very least, I was exhausted at the end of each day. I felt fulfillment providing care to the (most adorable) kiddos at the clinic, but everyday I was sighing along to the exhaust pipe on my car as Henry (my car) and I made the trip each day. Though only 12 weeks, I knew this current lifestyle was not sustainable for even a short summer. More naps and cups of coffee were not going to cut it for me. I wanted to practice the healthy habits I was taught (and am teaching others) to instill a lifestyle I was proud of and could carry with me to when I am working.

Even though I knew the OT principles and research behind engaging in occupations, it was a little hard to get started. Nothing could beat the thought of being at home, but I remembered how I felt after I forced myself to go on a short run at the park after an especially difficult day at fieldwork. It was an amazing way to decompress and I didn’t even feel significantly more tired!

I thought of my favorite restorative occupations, and reached out to my friends to join me! I spent the remainder of my summer balancing school and life: hiking, making clay ring dishes, running, going to concerts, and trying out new restaurants are some of my fondest memories. I still engage in all these occupations and they bring so much more meaning into my everyday life.

Here’s a little photo recap of my summer!

One of my favorite hikes in LA!

One of my favorite hikes in LA!

At Barcari in Silver Lake

At Barcari in Silver Lake!

Running a short race after a summer of running

Running a short race after a summer of running!

Tania

OT for a day! ⟩
October 31, 2022, by Tania

Diversity Getting Involved International

This month I had the opportunity to collaborate with another student organization on campus called Flying Samaritans. Flying Samaritans is an international volunteer organization that provides free health care for the underserved population in Tijuana, Mexico. The group meets on main campus and drives together to the border, parks on the US side, and then travels via taxi to a clinic in La Colonia Independencia in Tijuana, Mexico. I was very excited to participate in this project because I grew up in Tijuana, Mexico and having the opportunity to give back to my community feels amazing. I drove to the site and met the rest of the team there as the clinic was only a 10-minute drive from my parents’ house.

When I got there, I introduced myself to the volunteer group in Tijuana called Casa de Leones, which had partnered up with USC Flying Samaritans to run the free clinic. I helped set up tents, tables, and chairs for patients to sit in while they waited their turn for services. Patients first checked in and signed consent forms. Then they transitioned to the first room where undergraduate students will check their blood pressure, oxygen levels, insulin, height, and weight. Here, students will also collect patient history and ask questions regarding any concerns that brought the patient to the clinic. Patients will then transition to the second room to see a clinician for a general check-up and receive their free prescriptions. Finally, patients will meet with me to work on medication management, diabetes management, or lifestyle interventions.

Some of them shared that it was very hard to remember and be consistent with medication. Therefore, I created an individualized plan for each patient. For some, using a pill box and labels seemed to be the best option while for others teaching them how to put cellphone reminders was the way to go. Many of them had been told in the past that they needed to exercise more. However, their idea of exercise only consisted of running or weights. We had discussions of what typical days looked like for each patient and together we planned movement throughout their days.

Some patients had been coming for months and shared that they look forward to clinic days. Flying Samaritans have done a great job building rapport and providing free services that allow individuals to manage their chronic conditions. Being the OT for that day was extremely rewarding. It allowed me to put my classroom learning into practice. Not only that, but I was able to be part of an interdisciplinary team where we put our knowledge together making the patients our priority.

If you are interested in being part of this volunteer opportunity, please email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). You do not need to be fluent in Spanish and the team could always use more people. The next free clinic is on November 12th!

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