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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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Student Blog


Benefits of Cohorts ⟩
November 28, 2017, by Ali


This is our last week of classes with our cohorts, and it has me reflecting on what a special experience it is to study at USC in the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. As some of the other blogs have talked about, our entire class of Entry-Level Professional Master of Arts degree students is divided into three cohorts. So our 130-140 person class is broken up into 40-45 person sections. Across the span of three semesters, each cohort takes one of the three immersions focused on Adult Rehabilitation, Mental Health, or Pediatrics. The cohorts will rotate through each of these immersion courses over the three semesters.

Although the immersion coursework is with your cohort, the other thread courses such as Therapeutic Use of Self and Clinical Reasoning are with these same individuals in your cohort. The nature of these courses lends cohorts to be very close knit. We explore different practice areas together as well as develop our own sense of self as therapists. We develop our understanding of occupational therapy and build our clinical reasoning together. These semesters are formative in building our professional identities, so each semester we become more and more bonded as classmates and future therapists.

Reflecting on this last week of a rigorous semester, our last lab in Adult Rehabilitation focused on creating a meal together as a class utilizing adaptive equipment in the functional kitchen where our lab class takes place. There was no better way to end three semesters of coursework with my classmates than creating a meal together. As someone who is shy to speak up in a group of 130 people, with my cohort of 45 students who I got to know on a personal level I always felt comfortable asking questions or seeking out help from whomever I happen to sit next to that day. As Bryan references in his post a week ago, our cohort is constantly lifting each other up and checking in with one another.

Here are some pictures of Cohort B in Adult Rehabilitation during our last lab!

Taco Tuesday

Taco Tuesday in our functional kitchen using adaptive equipment!

Cookie Creations!

Cookie Creations with Cohort B!

Cohort B Ambassadors!

Fellow Student Ambassadors in Cohort B


Thankful for Occupational Therapy and the Trojan Family ⟩
November 17, 2017, by Ali

What are OS/OT?

As this semester is winding down and I am choosing my classes for next semester I have been feeling especially thankful for being a USC Trojan studying occupational therapy. Thanksgiving coming up around the corner has also been a healthy reminder to take a step back and recognize all the wonderful aspects of my life, future profession, and school. My freshman year I was overwhelmed with too much choice in having to choose a major that would then lead to a job. And then I found occupational therapy.

This semester has been full with making plans for the future after graduation, and I feel so thankful to be at USC studying occupational therapy. At every turn there is a professor who stops class in the middle of a lecture to check in on our stress levels and give us a pep talk about how capable we are. Not only are the professors supportive and receptive to our needs, but also all of the faculty are here to help us get to where we want to be and feel good about it along the way. Whether it be walking into a professor’s office hours to ask question after question or brief conversations in the hallway when a faculty member asks “how are you?” and you know they truly want to know and help. The Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is one of the top programs in the country for research and practice, but it is also a warm and close-knit community that supports its students every step of the way.

I am also thankful for finding occupational therapy because even as I feel stress and worried about my future, I have complete confidence that no matter what setting I work in or what population I choose to focus on, I will helping people. Whether it be getting somebody out of bed for the first time after having a stroke so they can brush their own teeth and hair or helping a child attend to an entire board game activity with a peer, I am grateful to get to be entering a profession that is client-centered, creative, and focuses on helping individuals live out their definition of a meaningful life. I will be making a difference in helping my clients do what is meaningful to them. Halfway through my second year of the Master’s program I keep getting wrapped up in the small details of due dates and exams, but this week has me stepping back to be grateful for being a future occupational therapist and member of the Trojan family. Fight on and Happy Thanksgiving!


Falling In Love With A New Occupation ⟩
October 30, 2017, by Ali

Life Hacks Living in LA

With week ten of the semester comes midterms, unfinished projects, and the overall stress of finishing classes while choosing classes for next semester. I found myself getting caught up in the stress of it all, going straight from class to work to home only to continue studying or working until bed and then starting it all over the next day. Then one day last week, I came home to huge brown box on my front porch. My parents had mailed me a boogie board. They knew both how stressed I had been and my love for swimming in the ocean.

I had been talking for months about wanting to go to the beach on the weekend, but never found myself actually making the short twenty-minute drive. This surprise present was just the motivation I needed, as I have always wanted to take up boogie boarding but never actually knew how or owned the board. So last week, with October weather in Los Angeles being so warm, I took my new board to ocean! An eight five-degree weather day at the beach is hard to pass up.

The fresh air and salty water was the just the refresher I had been craving in the middle of the semester. It felt so good to do something like boogie boarding, which has no inherent value besides being enjoyable and fun. To engage in something purely for the sake of leisure without any productive value or in the hopes of reaching a goal, was something I had not done in a long time. There are so many occupations out there, and I am so glad I was reminded to try out a new one. I love being a beginner at something again and the joy of learning a new skill just for the sake of learning it. In the middle of occupational therapy school this semester, I was reminded of the power of occupation and the therapeutic value that meaningful activities have on our lives. I am feeling ready to take the rest of the exams and projects I have ahead (with my boogie board in my hand).


More Than Just Classes: Interprofessional Geriatric Curriculum Program ⟩
October 16, 2017, by Ali

Getting Involved

As part of our course curriculum in the second year, all three cohorts take OT 538: Current Issues in Practice: Adulthood & Aging. This course addresses the shifting demographics of society with the worldwide phenomenon of aging and occupational therapy’s role in caring for the aging population. One option for this course is to engage in an interdisciplinary experience with USC students in other fields of study, which include: pharmacy, dental hygiene, social work, medical, physician assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students! One aspect that drew me into occupational therapy was the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and community outreach, which this program blends together seamlessly, so I was eager to sign up.

We had our first site visit this week where we prepared for an hour before meeting with our older adult living in the residential community building. The focus of the week was on pharmacy and social work as well as to generally get to know our older adult. My interprofessional team does not include a social work student or a pharmacy student, so the other healthcare professional students and I stepped up to coordinate our session in a collaborative way. We ensured we remained within our respective scopes of practice while also obtaining all the information we needed. The older adult that we get to work with is so welcoming and open about her life.

The different professional students on my team and I took turns asking various questions, about everything from her family, where she is from, what she did for a living, and what she currently does with her time. She was open about her medical history, concerns about age related illness due to family history of diabetes and Alzheimer’s. She showed us photos of her grandchildren and years of travel. She opened up about her peers and how she views aging as something she is in control of by maintaining a social life, physical activity, and engaging in activities that give her life meaning (occupations!).

After the session we debriefed as a team and it was amazing to hear all of the different things that each professional student found significant and would affect their treatment or intervention, if we were to treat our older adult. The physician assistant and the medical student found the vitamins that our older adult is taking to be a great fit for her and her needs. The dental hygienist student noticed a tooth that she was in between appointments on getting it fixed. The physical therapy student noticed bruises on her knees and handles on the walls, which lead her to want to know more about her balance. I wanted to know more about her roles, routines, and habits in order to get a better idea of how she occupies her times.

I love the chance to get to ask each of these different students questions to learn more about their professional lenses as well as the chance to connect with an older adult. Being a student at USC opens the door for opportunities such as this with so many other professional programs and connection to the community. The Trojan family spreads into all of the schools within the university and community members. I look forward to my next site visit to continue my interprofessional growth and building a relationship with our older adult.


Bachelor’s to Master’s in Occupational Therapy: A community not just a major ⟩
October 2, 2017, by Ali

Getting Involved

We just hosted our OT Welcome Back Dinner for the Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree Program students. With 9-11 students per graduating class, the Accelerated BS to MA community is a very small and connected group. Dr. Joanne Park and the rest of the admissions team organize events, such as this dinner, as an opportunity to share a meal with all the OT majors who can make it. We organized dinner, games, and the chance to meet their mentor/mentee groups for the first time.

Each student is assigned a mentor group, which consists of at least one freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior as a resource to ask questions and help support one another. We encourage these mentor groups to engage in their favorite occupations together or study together on campus.

These events are designed to foster the community, or OT Family, of progressive degree occupational therapy students throughout their five years with the program. As these students are on a fast track professional degrees, we want to ensure they feel a part of the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. It is important to note the BS degree does not permit students to be licensed therapists, but they will be ready to sit for the national board exam and become a therapist even sooner because they only have one more year of school to complete their Master’s degree.

This is a picture of everyone who was able to come out for the dinner!

This is a picture of everyone who was able to come out for the dinner!

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