Clowning Around >
November 18, 2020
Recently, our OT 540 Leadership Capstone class had a visit from an AOTA member who was able to discuss with our class the importance of advocacy and quality in OT. The speaker was invited to stay for our next special presentation. And the “presentation” was a visit from clowns. Yes. Three clowns, complete with red noses, hats, and names like Yebo, showed up in our Zoom meeting. At first, the whole class of 138 people was extremely confused. Our serious discussion about the quality of OT services had suddenly turned into Captain Noodles asking our professor if she had picked her nose today. One of our classmates got so freaked out he hid under his desk and was deemed by the clowns to be a professional escape artist.
As various text messaging groups pinged back and forth trying to find the source of the hilarity, one of my friends sent a link to the Institute for Theatre & Social Change (ITSC) and their medical clowning program, and we recognized one of the clowns who visited us on their website. The medical clowns use laughter and humor to impact medical and psychological benefits. The program itself is a unique partnership between the USC School of Dramatic Arts and other medical centers associated with USC, such as LAC+USC Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where the clowns will do clowning rounds and visit patients at these sites. However, with safety regulations due to the pandemic, the clowns have moved to virtual platforms. You can even sign up for your own 15 minute Zoom clowning session!
It is amazing to see our fellow students from other schools across USC coming together to impact health. Thank you for your visit! As strange as it was to have three clowns show up during our Zoom meeting, it was a nice stress-reliever and a good laugh. Keep up the good clowning work! And, fellow students, as we head into finals season, keep laughing and keep being your awesome selves.
The OT Necessities: Fiction Edition >
October 28, 2020
With fieldwork coming up, I have been reflecting on the traits that make a good occupational therapist. I’ve also been able to think about my role models that embody those important attributes. Surprisingly, not all of my role models are real-live people… Below are ten fictional characters and ten qualities that would make good OTs. With Halloween season upon us, it’s a great time to think of some of these inspirational characters:
- Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia) — First up on the list, we have the lovely Queen Lucy of Narnia, known for her compassion toward others. From when she first enters the world all the way to when she becomes queen, her kindness toward others and desire to help people are what drives her actions. Her compassion will also help her as an OT.
- Master Shifu (Kung Fu Panda) — When trying to engage Po in training, Master Shifu is observant about Po’s interests and motivations. He notices Po is motivated by food, and Shifu uses that to train Po. In a similar way, OT’s must be aware of their client’s motivations and must be observant during sessions.
- Oliver Wood (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) — We all know the name Harry Potter, but we have to recognize the skill of his first quidditch captain. Oliver Wood has the teaching and communication skills to break down a wizard sport to someone who had never heard of it before. He would be able to explain activities to his OT clients easily, and he could perhaps add some magic to the mix and make sessions even more exciting.
- Mulan (Mulan) — Mulan is known for how she can look at a problem from a different angle, whether it’s climbing up a pole using weights that were supposed to make the task more difficult, or whether it’s causing an avalanche, she has an ability to find new uses for objects. Her ability to see things from unique perspectives to solve problems creatively will benefit her in OT practice.
- Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon) — When working with a wild dragon, Hiccup demonstrates incredible patience in building rapport. He is able to deal with the dragon’s frustrations, as he tries to understand where Toothless is coming from. Hiccup is willing to learn how to fly alongside Toothless. If he has this much patience with a dragon, I can only imagine his patience with his OT clients.
- Gru (Despicable Me) — Gru has three young girls to take care of, and when he reads them a bedtime story, he takes their love of puppet books into account. He uses his own creativity to tie in their interests and passions into his care. Any OT willing to bond with their client through a nose puppet book is winning.
- Skeeter Phelan (The Help) — Skeeter uses her writing abilities to capture individuals’ stories and to advocate for what they need and deserve. In a similar way, Skeeter could use her abilities as an OT to create carefully worded and carefully spell-checked writing and documentation to advocate for services for their clients and to document their progress.
- Elastagirl (The Incredibles) — This supermom is literally and metaphorically flexible. She can stretch herself, literally, to vacuum under the couch and to parachute off a plane. She is also flexible in adapting her approaches to how she handles parenting and how she handles saving the world. Her flexibility will help her as an OT in adjusting to clients’ needs or even clients’ mood.
- Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins) — How did this nanny make a name for herself? Her ability to engage her wards in chores they originally don’t want to do by making hard work fun. She hums her tunes and draws them into activities by building rapport and being creative, qualities that will make OT sessions easy for her.
- Captain America (The Avengers) — Cap is known for how he works as a team player in a group with people of different strengths. During the final battle, he directs each of his teammates to where they are needed and where they can best help. On an interprofessional team as an OT, Captain America would understand everyone’s unique perspectives and roles and how to collaborate to best serve the client.
What incredible role models! There are so many important qualities that go into making a good OT. My goal is to keep pursuing OT driven by compassion and to continue to build the rest of these skills along the way.
Personal Statements: On My Way to the OTD >
October 14, 2020
I just submitted my application to the OTD program! The applications for the USC Chan OTD Residencies have also just been submitted. It feels like I can take a breath now. I may not be done with the whole OTD process, but it’s nice to have gotten started. I had forgotten what it is like to have applications sitting over my head. But a few good personal statement tips, some even from applying to college as a high schooler, came to mind:
- Do Your Research — Know what each individual residency (or college, if that is the application stage that you are in) has to offer. Know which residencies will be the best fit for your skills, your interests, and your future goals. You want to find the sites that you can learn the most from and that you can contribute the most to.
- Tell a Story — The best part about applications is that these are not normal essays. Yes, you are still trying to prove a point: that you belong at this residency. But unlike your usual school essay, are not limited to third-person speech or to proving your point through quoting sources. You get to tell the story of you. So go wild! Find the experiences that you have lived that show that you have what they’re looking for.
- Ask for Help — Ask for input from friends, parents, student ambassadors offering help (Thank you, Daniel). They can be that extra spell-check, and they can also offer perspectives, ideas, and personal experiences you hadn’t thought of including.
- But Be Okay with Saying No — In the end, as much advice as you get, these are your essays. This is your chance to show who you are. If you get a suggestion that doesn’t flow with your writing style or doesn’t paint the picture you want it to, it’s okay to say no. (Do so nicely, though!)
- Chunk It — When you suddenly have writer’s block, it’s okay to take a break. Go get ice cream. Get away from a screen for a little bit. Have a conversation with someone; maybe some new ideas will come up. And even if they don’t, walking a way for a break can open up new perspectives when you decide to write again.
Once you’re done with the personal statements, celebrate! Bake some chocolate chip cookies and pet the dog. Then you can start thinking about the remainder of the application process, such as interviews and things. Daniel has additional advice about the application process. The process may have just begun, but give yourself a pat on the back. Step one is done!
Put Tracking Apps to the Test >
September 30, 2020
In OT 563: Occupational Therapy in Primary Healthcare Environments, Dr. Valasek gave us an assignment. In primary care (and other OT environments), we may assign our clients a log to learn more about their lives and what affects their occupations, so we as students have to complete a log for ourselves. We get to better understand our practice, not just by practicing, but by experiencing what we may ask our clients to do. Dr. V let us know that we had to track for a week, but she was giving us two weeks to complete the assignment, helping us to understand that some weeks are just not good weeks to have to be responsible for tracking. She was also very helpful in permitting a variety of things that we could track (from mood to food) and in suggesting a variety of methods in which to complete this log. Beyond paper tracking methods, there are a surprising number of phone apps to track things and give reminders for goals, too! Daylio can be used for mood and habit tracking. Anxiety Tracker tracks…well…anxiety, if you hadn’t guessed. Habit Bull keeps you on track for habits. Lose It! can be used to track food and calories. And there are many more! I decided to check out Lose It! Let’s see how this goes…
Monday, Day 1
Today was spent familiarizing myself with the app. When you type in a food to Lose It!, there are so many options, it’s overwhelming. At the same time, I’m glad that they give options for things. I feel like I’d be even more stressed if I chose to do my own paper trackers and hand to configure ingredients and calorie count by myself. Or I’d get lazy and go back to fill in previous days’ meals without remembering exactly what I ate. I’m curious to see if I like the apps enough to keep going after this week.
Tuesday, Day 2
I didn’t eat lunch. I felt lazy about wanting to log food, got distracted by a letter my cousin sent me, and just ended up doing other things during my break. It makes me wonder if food logging accurately portrays what I eat in a week, but at the same time, part of logging is to bring the user’s awareness to their own situation and behaviors, so maybe I’m learning that I eat too much…hmmm. The funniest part of today was trying to recognize some of the Chinese food names in English. I had fun estimating dinner portion sizes with my mom, guessing if the amount of rice I ate was one cup or two thirds of a cup. My mom is a physician, so it was fun to hear that Lose It! is one of the apps that she recommends to her patients! She gets to learn a little bit more about it this week, too.
Wednesday, Day 3
I found what I like best about Lose It! You can scan barcodes on foods and it automatically inputs the food, the calories, everything! I tried it on my cereal in the morning, and it was almost more tempting to eat things out of the box, instead of homemade meals. Then, that evening, I discovered the recipe option! You can input all of the ingredients in a dish, put how many portions it makes, and it calculates everything for you. You can also save the recipe, so if it is a dish you make often, it is easy to go back and select. I asked my dad what went into his delicious eggplant dish, got an accurate calorie count for my meal and the recipe for a dish I love. I guess it takes longer than I thought to become accustomed to all of the characteristics of an app, and there are more helpful features than I imagined.
Thursday, Day 4
Today was easier. I got more into the habit of logging food right before I ate it. I also realized that previous meals pop up to make selection of eating leftovers easier. I noticed that the app also has water tracking, which I would love to use, but I don’t think I want to pay for the upgrade. The one downside of today is that Lose It! has me on a schedule with a calorie limit, and I really want brick toast… (If you look up “Oh My Pan!” you can find a very good visual example of my food craving for the day.)
Friday, Day 5
This was the first day I went over my calorie limit. Wow. That little red mark telling me I did something wrong was quite disheartening. I needed a reminder from someone close to me that food tracking is not always perfectly accurate, and that it is okay to have a cheat day. You have to take in the weekly budget numbers, too, and there is a lot more to account for in life that affects what you eat. In the end, I decided to let the app help me be aware of what I was eating, but not kill the vibe. And what can I say: The In-n-Out was worth it.
Saturday, Day 6
Tracking three meals a day has almost become habit. I also liked that I can input the exercise I completed for the day, and it goes into the net calorie count. It’s difficult to estimate calories burned from exercise, but it’s kind of nice to know that you can input that information. No crazy new discoveries on the app today. I’m looking forward to seeing how the week fills out.
Sunday, Day 7
Today my mom asked me, “Are you done tracking yet?” She wanted me to eat cookies with her for dessert. I can definitely see how this may be a downside to using a tracking app. It can affect even social aspects of life! But in the end, I think it’s kind of fun to be able to have more of an awareness of what I’m taking in. And I think I’ll continue to use the app, even if I track less regularly or even if I’m a little inaccurate, the most important thing is that it helps me become more aware of my own health.
I truly enjoy learning about the need for and the implementation of occupational therapy in primary care, and this class has definitely brought some unique learning experiences. I’m excited to keep learning about this area of OT and to keep building skills that I can use in the future.
Introducing OT >
September 16, 2020
Between our summer session ending and the start of fall, we had a one week break. And I tried to make the most of the time. I engaged in some of my favorite activities that had been pushed off during finals week, including different musical occupations. One of the most entertaining is making parodies of songs and rewriting lyrics.
I found myself reflecting on my school experiences as an OT. Ever since freshman year, I’ve had to have a definition of my major at hand. That basic introduction question of “What are you studying?” probably brought more explanation than that poor engineering student was expecting. But I thought it would be fun to put it all in song form. I hope you find this parody of Nick Jonas’ “Introducing Me” both informative and amusing. So whether you’re here for the laughs or you’ve stumbled onto this page by accident and want to learn more about OT, here it is, for your perusing: