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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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Choosing a Residency Site


November 30, 2018

Life Hacks

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Thinking back to last year and searching for a residency site . . . I’m still overwhelmed! It is such an important part of the OTD experience but with a little bit of reframing it becomes a much more conquerable task, in fact it becomes as an opportunity to achieve some of your goals.

  1. First, stop. Take a deep breath. Ok, now . . .
  2. Reframe how you’re thinking about the search. This is not fieldwork. Your residency will not be like fieldwork and finding your site will not be like getting assigned a fieldwork placement. In fact, you are 100% in charge!
  3. I found it useful to think of the process like a job search. You want to consider the obvious things like the practice area but you have the freedom to include the following in your considerations: the work environment, the length of your commute, the flexibility in the hours you’ll work, and what your pay will be.
  4. You will probably have to reach out to more than one site . . . probably more than two . . . I have a friend who approached more than 15. But they found a spot in the advanced practicing setting they wanted and they got it and they’re so excited about it. The leg work was worth it.
  5. Remember the timeline for securing a residency. I didn’t start reaching out to sites until the Spring and I did not have mine confirmed until the middle of the Summer. I was too busy early in the second year of the Master’s to tackle the search and I was not put at a disadvantage by waiting until I had time to do it right. You don’t need to have your site confirmed until the beginning of your OTD.
  6. Many sites will interview you, take this as an opportunity to interview them right back! This is going to be the place where you blossom from an entry level practitioner to an established therapist. You want to advocate for what you’ll need and make sure the site you’re going for can provide it.
  7. Expand your search beyond the USC affiliated sites. These sites are amazing and might seem like an easy fix to all the anxiety about finding a residency . . . but they are not the right fit for everyone. Even if they’re in the practice area or population that you are interested in, the management style or location or required projects might not be right for you. Consider these things and know that there are many other sites available. Another reason people apply exclusively for the USC sites is because of funding. I will write another blog post on this soon, but there are other ways to fund the OTD with a similar financial obligation.
  8. Consider all the tracks. I ended up going with the clinical route but I have friends who want to be clinicians but took this opportunity to expand their skills in research or policy and administration. It was not necessarily their original plan but they seized the opportunity offered to them and are learning a lot. An interview with some of them will be available soon, make sure to check it out!
  9. Talk to potential faculty mentors. I didn’t come up with my residency structure until I talked to Dr. Blanche about my goals.
  10. Claim the experience, decide what you want, and make it work for you. It can be sort of flexible, so mold it. I had two interested (sensory integration and animal assisted therapy) so I’m doing a split residency between two sites. I do 10 hours per week at Therapy West and 10 hours at The Children’s Ranch and this is the right balance for me. This is YOUR residency and you have the power to make it what you need!

I’m happy to talk to anyone who has more questions, please feel free to reach out.