The A-Z’s of USC OT: Part I >
February 24, 2021
As a Bachelor’s-to-Master’s student, I have been a part of the USC OT community for nearly five years. While learning to call this school home, I have realized that I am so lucky to be where I am. I’ve decided to compile an A-Z list of USC OT attributes that drew me to the program and that I learned as a part of the Trojan Family.
Area - USC is located in the wonderful California city of Los Angeles. Not only can you find a lot of OT volunteer opportunities nearby if you want to check out OT, but you can also drive to the beach, hike to the Hollywood sign, or check out amazing eateries.
Beyond classes - Outside of classes, there are a multitude of student organizations that allow students to encourage growth within the school and also growth in the community we serve.
Creativity - Creativity is so integral to occupational therapy that we have an entire Foundations course on creativity. Not only do we look at crafts occupations, but we use creativity to find new ways to approach and solve problems with engaging in these occupations.
Diversity - Our division places a high value on representation from people of all different backgrounds. Whether it be looking at ethic diversity in admissions, gender representation in OT, or even diversity in ages and stages of life, our students and faculty are open to difficult and perspective-building discussions.
Early Level II - Some OT schools have classwork first and both Level II Fieldwork placements after. But we have our first placement the summer in between academic years, getting to bring our fieldwork experience into our final year of classes to build on that new understanding.
Finances - Funding school can be a difficult discussion. The division offers their own scholarships and financial aid resources. In addition, USC has resources for their students and scholarships through the university itself and other organizations.
Hands-on - Whether in labs or in fieldwork or even in practice activities in lectures, I have been grateful for learning-by-doing opportunities. Now in fieldwork, I can see how small activities that we may have done in class can be used with my clients.
Interdisciplinary - We study how OT fits with other health professions, such as PT and social work. Students can also take advantage of other incredible programs at USC by taking electives in other schools, such as the Davis School of Gerontology, the Marshall School of Business, or the Rossier School of Education.
Jobs - There are good job prospects in OT, as it is a quickly growing field. You can also pick up a student worker position while in school, like my job as a student ambassador.
Knowledgeable professors - Our professors are open to talking about coursework and the OT field outside the classroom. They work with us to make sure that we can get a full experience, working with different accommodations needed and through different life circumstances.
Lifestyle Redesign - Lifestyle Redesign was created at USC. Students can both learn about a unique framework and experience it, too. Our faculty practice offers services to students who can experience Lifestyle Redesign and its impact on their lives and occupations as students.
Mental health - This is an area of OT that is not often given enough space, but here, it has its own immersion. After this class, I was more open to the idea of mental health and how occupational therapists can impact mental health and therefore performance in occupations.
New perspectives - In our classes, we discuss how different people would approach different cases and how our various perspectives can be expanded through others’ experiences. We learn from each other to expand our own creative thinking.
Stay tuned for Part II. 😊
Welcome to the Waiting >
February 3, 2021
Hello to all of our undergraduate applicants who have now reached the Waiting: that awkward time in between application submission and decision where the choice is out of your hands. All admissions processes, whether for undergrad or graduate school, have that awkward, breath-holding Waiting. You’ve spent months trying to paint the perfect picture of yourself for each counselor that reads your personal statement. You’ve looked at schools and maybe you have that one ideal school in mind. You’ve hit the submit button. And now what? Whatever thoughts or expectations we have about our future education, we all at some point get stuck in the Waiting. So as you’re sitting trying to picture what the next four years of your life may look like, here are a few tips to remember.
- Breathe — With applications in, breathe in. Now, breathe out. You did it! You submitted! Good job! You’ve done your part, and now look at all this new time that you have gained! Take a breath and bake cookies or go for a night drive. Go back to your favorite activities, or find a new one. Or you can always spend more time studying for all those AP classes that you decided to take senior year…
- Celebrate — You have done your best, written your best, and put on your best show. Take time to eat some ice cream, since it’s hitting 80 degrees here in LA, or drink hot chocolate and watch a movie.
- Commiserate — Remember that other students are also waiting! Find your other friends who are in the same boat. Wait together, and rant together, if you need to. Remember that wherever you are in this journey, you’re not alone.
- Be present — The phrase “be present” is used frequently among my friend group. But it always takes a moment for the real meaning of the phrase to sink in. As you go throughout your day, be present in the moment. Yes, you can think about your future, but don’t let those worries take away from what you’re living right now. Make some good memories. Now is as good a time as any.
So. Welcome to the Waiting. Just remember, the Waiting doesn’t last forever. Your path may end up looking different than you expected. But know that somehow, someway, you’ll end up where you need to be.
New Year Resolutions >
January 13, 2021
Welcome to 2021! We’ve reached a whole new year. Now is the time when people expect change, when people make resolutions to be their own new and improved selves. I wanted to give you some encouragements about making life changes:
Any time is a good time to start — Yes, it’s a new year and a symbol for new beginnings, but January 1st does not have to be the start date of the new you. Sometimes change happens gradually or unexpectedly. Sometimes it starts January 2nd instead, and sometimes it starts in July. And that is okay. For me, I wrote a blog a while ago about tracking my calories for an assignment, and I have been doing so ever since. It may not be January 1st, but October 21st is just as good a day to start a change.
Set attainable goals — I think setting attainable goals is an important skill as a future occupational therapist. We have to know how to give our clients and ourselves something to celebrate. Do the same when you’re making changes for yourself. Putting yourself through a long Chloe Ting challenge? Celebrate the fact that you made time for it just today. If you can’t do a month-long challenge, go for two weeks. But celebrate milestones in the process of change, not just the end goal!
Change can happen slowly — Unfortunately, with the start of 2021, we’ve seen how January 1st is not COVID’s expiration date, but at the same time, we know that vaccines are developed, we are all getting more used to wearing masks and keeping our community safe, and we’re on our way to getting back to “normal” safely. Something similar is true about our own change. We can’t expect ourselves to learn a new instrument in one day, but we can practice. Give yourself some time to learn the sound of the instrument and see how long it takes to change your tone, to build up the endurance to play for longer than three minutes at a time. (Hint: It’s okay if it feels like a long time.) Celebrate that you’ve stuck with it for so long, because sometimes gradual change is more exciting and surprising when you look at how far you’ve come.
This week, I started a new change. I have been placed at my first Level II Fieldwork site! For me, this is an opportunity to build my clinical reasoning skills, to learn to think like an OT as I practice being an OT. I’m excited to apply what we learn to real life. My first couple days have been long. I went from having a winter-break brain to working from 9 to 5! But I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve set my own goals/resolutions for fieldwork, and I hope to be able to make progress towards them over the next twelve weeks:
- Be okay with uncomfortable conversations
- Initiate a new project
- Make time for myself
Let’s work towards new goals together in this new year! We got this!
Ring In the Season >
December 18, 2020
It’s December! The holiday season means it’s time for some of my favorite occupations. Personally, my family and I celebrate Christmas. I wanted to share some of the ways we start setting up for the holiday! Enjoy this poem about how I celebrate Christmas with my family:
The time has come to decorate,
Bring out the boxes. Yes, all eight.
The garland, wreaths, and Christmas tree, 🎄
And in the background: Mariah Carey
Sings her song with jingle bells. 🎶
So deck the halls, enjoy the smell
Of evergreen and peppermint.
Have hot chocolate with the remnants ☕
Of candy canes, whipped cream on top.
Because 70 is cold. Don’t tell me it’s not. ❄️
Take off the lids, open the box. 🎁
Untangle the snafu of Christmas stuff.
Lay out the garlands, row by row,
And check the lights! Make sure they glow. 🌟
The wreaths and garland are put up in style
Giving everyone who walks by a smile.
The Christmas cards are ready, too,
For all our family and friends to peruse. 👨👩👧👦
We tell them what happened in our year
And send them a little Christmas cheer.
Sealing all the envelopes ✉️
To exchange some love and hope.
When the cards are done, we snuggle up.
With flannel pajamas and another cup
Of hot chocolate. It’s movie time. 🎅
We argue between “Elf” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
The movie starts and brings that wonderful feeling.
That Christmas is here. So ring in the season. 🔔
Hope this gets you in the mood. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ❤️
What I Miss on Campus >
December 2, 2020
Now that I’m back home, I find myself often reminiscing about my home away from home. I spent three years on the University Park Campus (UPC) and a fourth year commuting between UPC and the Health Science Campus (HSC), and now I miss both of them. Some places, though, bring back more memories than others. Here are a few of the places I miss going to:
Tommy’s Place — Hidden in the basement of the Tutor Campus Center on UPC, this chill little hideaway is where the pool tables are. I played a few games with friends, and although I’m not that great of a player, I still had a lot of fun. Tommy’s Place is also where the flute section members who had stayed home would gather on away game days to watch the game together.
Adult Rehab Lab — Adult Physical Rehabilitation was one of my first classes in the Master’s Program. Inside the Rehab Lab, I had some of the most physically challenging OT experiences. We worked with standardized patients to help us learn how to best position ourselves to get our clients up and walking after a hip replacement. We also made hand splints. This past semester, I got to enjoy seeing Instagram stories of my friends who are in Adult Physical Rehab go to the lab in masks and face shields to learn how to do transfers to wheelchairs or how to put on a gait belt.
Cromwell Field — From freshman to senior year, I spent so much of my fall semester on Cromwell Field practicing shows. After a long day of classes, I’d run to practice, pull out my piccolo, and play and de-stress. I may have given myself some minor hearing damage (Note to self: use earplugs with a piccolo!), but it was worth it. There’s nothing like saluting the real, live Traveler with “Conquest.” Or running through one last set and realizing Alan Silvestri is there. At your 7am practice. Conducting the finale of the Marvel show. The 2019 Flute Seniors also made a pyramid during band camp. Unforgettable memories.
Bookstore at HSC — It’s a small little store, tucked away in the corner by the food court on the Health Science Campus. But the best part about it: they have OT gear! Get hats, license plate frames, mugs, the whole shebang representing the Division and OT. Sure, the UPC Bookstore may have a Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, but it’s at the HSC Bookstore that you can buy the best gear (Though, I have to admit, this statement is slightly biased).
The Great Lawn — Located in the USC Village, the Great Lawn is conveniently right behind Trader Joe’s. On those nice spring days that aren’t too hot or too cold, where you can see the blue sky above the trees, you’ll find many people sitting out on the lawn to play spike ball or just talk. I have enjoyed a great many picnics out on the Great Lawn, including one where a friendly dog came by and made us throw a frisbee. Multiple times. My own dog preferers belly rubs and napping to catching frisbees, so it was a nice change of pace.
Keck Cafeteria — During lunch, my friend and I would always head over to the cafeteria. They make some amazing, decently-priced quesadillas and wraps. So we would often head over on days where I had not packed a lunch. Another friend of mine took classes nearby and would occasionally meet us there for lunch to talk about life and classes. The cafeteria was a great place to take a break and enjoy some good eats, as well!
Mt. McCarthy — There is a well-known quad right outside of Leavey Library called McCarthy Quad, the center of many school events and our weekly farmer’s market. And right next to this quad, is a hill: the highest point of elevation on the University Park Campus. Many students study, hammock, or both in the shade of the trees. It’s a great spot to get together for lunch with friends, and it’s right next to the weekly farmer’s market.
Coming back to all of these memories of campus is bittersweet. I miss being on campus. I miss being in each of these places. I miss spending time with people I care about. But for now, it’s enough to reminisce and meet up on Zoom. And hopefully, once things open back up, then, reader, you’ll have some ideas on how to make new memories.