Student Blog | Catherine
Staying In Control and Winning the Waiting Game
Posted Nov 5, 2019, by Catherine
I have never been good at waiting. Waiting in line at a grocery store, no thank you (thank goodness for self-checkout). Waiting for standard shipping, grueling. Waiting for my test scores or that acceptance letter, I cannot even. Unfortunately, life is not all 2-day shipping, and express checkout lanes, and at some point or another we will find ourselves playing the waiting game. So how do you handle the stress of waiting, and cope with not knowing the immediate next step? Here are some ways I stay in control, and win in these stressful pockets of time.
- Treat yourself. Congratulations! Whatever it is you are waiting for, an application, finishing a test, or just getting that elective request form in, you did it. You have made a tangible step towards your goal, and that in itself is an accomplishment. Give yourself a pat on the back, take some time to relax, and go get yourself a treat. You earned it.
- Write down your fears. Sometimes it’s the “not knowing” part of waiting that can feed into the anxiety and frustrations of waiting. If you find yourself overwhelmed with “what if” questions, I find it helpful to write them down. Take some time to reflect on what are the worst things that can happen if what you are hoping for doesn’t come into fruition. What is the worst case scenario? Once you have that down, write down at least one thing you can do to make that situation better, and one person that you could ask for help. Having a list of what I can do has helped me overcome many restless nights.
- Reach out. Spending time with friends and family for a venting session, engaging in some leisurely occupations, and even just some extra tactile input of a big hug has always been helpful when I’m not feeling in control. Knowing you have people on your side, and rooting for you is always a great source of strength and support.
- Get organized. Sometimes after taking a big test, I come back to messy desk covered in notes, coffee cups and scattered post-its. Looking at such a messy space can make me feel even more out of control. Cleaning your space and getting organized provides me a visual cue to calm my mind and get back that sense of control. You don’t have to go full Marie Kondo, but even just throwing out those old receipts and candy wrappers that have been living in the bottom of your bag can do the trick.
My Community, My Family
Posted Oct 22, 2019, by Catherine
It’s that time of the year, midterms, and most of you (MAII second years) are at your full week of fieldwork. During this first semester of the OTD, these milestones of the curriculum don’t resonate as strongly, as we are out in the wild, practicing, most of us in class for only one day of the week. While there is a sense of relief that the stress of midterm tests and assignments are no longer at the top of my list of worries, there was always a sense of comradery that I was able to share with my cohort along the way (shout out to my Cohort B!). Like the poem goes, “We’re all in this together.”
It’s also that time of year of pumpkin spice, and everything nice. Halloween is just around the corner, and then it will Thanksgiving, and so on. You get the picture. It’s the beginning of the time of the year where family, friends, and loved ones can share experiences, occupations and make stories. While I love my family, and miss my friends back home, I’m grateful to have a family here at Chan that I have shared and continue to share these moments with.
The truth is, during residency, you won’t have the luxury of seeing your cohort every day. You won’t be sharing these experiences together as a group. This is, unless you have a co-resident at your practice setting. But what you will have, is your Community of Practice. In the OT 620 class, that you enroll in the first semester of the program, you can expect to be placed into groups of peers/colleagues that share a commonality of practice area. Through my weekly check-ins with my CoP, we are able to mutually support each other through discussions, debrief and resource sharing, specific to our practice area. We even have a journal club!
So while I may not have my entire cohort, I now have my Community of Practice. My family, my support system, and together we got each other’s back. So my little take away I hope to share through this post is to cherish the cohort you have today, and look forward to your Community of Practice in the future.
It’s Interview Season!
Posted Oct 8, 2019, by Catherine
Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the beginning of the fall season. Along with pumpkin spice, and everything nice, the Chan residency interviews have begun. It thought it might be helpful for share some interview tips. Remember, interviewing for a residency is like interviewing for a job, and these tips can save to apply to when you interview at external residencies later on as well.
- Dress for success, and strike pose. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but I will say it again for good measure. While you don’t need to go outside of your means to purchase an entire new outfit, it really does make a difference when you dress for the position you want. Not only does it reflect a level a respect and professionalism, it can be helpful to get you into “the zone”. What also helps is to do a power pose. Take 5 minutes to do a power pose before going into your interview to level up on your confidence.
- Prepare an elevator speech. You’ve written countless ones of how you will describe occupational therapy, but it’s also good to have one about yourself. Writing an elevator speech about why you want the residency you’re applying for will not only have a handy go to answer if you are asked this question, but it will give you an opportunity to identity your strengths!
- Practice talking about yourself. If you’re like me, and feel uncomfortable talking about yourself under pressure, practicing talking about yourself can be really helpful. Find a safe space with someone you feel comfortable and do a “mock interview”. This can get your interview jitters out and help you feel more prepared on the big day.
- Write yourself a LTG. I mentioned this in a previous post, but setting a clear goal for what you want to achieve during your residency will help anchor your talking points. This will especially come in handy if you get a question you weren’t prepared to answer. Just tie it back to your goal(s).
- Be yourself! While sometimes it may seem like there is a “right answer” to an interview question, it’s always best to be true to yourself. One of the goals of an interview is find a good fit between the candidate and the residency site. Trust the process and be yourself.
Remember, take a deep breathe, count to ten, use whatever relaxation strategy works for you, because you got this! Fight on!!
You’ve Submitted Your Application… Now What?
Posted Oct 1, 2019, by Catherine
Congratulations to all who have submitted your OTD applications for the Chan residencies! You did it! I am happy and proud that you have decided to take the next step in your academic/professional journey. When I was in your position, applying for all the wonderful opportunities Chan has to offer, I had experienced anxieties about committing. More specially, I remember I was second guessing myself. Did I even know where I wanted to practice? What if I make the wrong choice and regret it? If this sounds familiar to you, I would like to share some strategies that helped me:
- Take a deep breath: Relax. The hardest part, taking that first step and leap of faith in yourself and capabilities is over. You got this.
- Reflect: Journaling, as you may all know, is a great way to organize your thoughts. Take some time to journal about why you came into OT in the first place. This will give you a visual aid in organizing your thoughts about where you want to take your OTD, and how you can make it fit into your career goals. This will also give you a foundation to work off of when prepping for interviews.
- Ask: If you have applied to one or more USC Chan residency, and want more information on what the residency looks like from a student perspective, don’t be shy to reach out to the current resident. We were all in your shoes once and can relate. If your feel uncomfortable cold calling a resident you don’t know, feel free to use me as an alternate resource.
I hope this post was helpful. And remember I am here for you!! 😃 ✌️
Why I Chose the OTD
Posted Aug 29, 2019, by Catherine
For me, returning to school to pursue a second Master’s degree felt like running into a deep and dark tunnel. Despite this, the first time I stepped foot into CHP for an informational session of the program, I had a sense that I was becoming a part of something great. The amazing faculty, robust programs, and sense of community among others, has always made me proud to be a Trojan. I must admit that there were times I would get overwhelmed and second guess whether I would be able to power through to graduation. Then Fall Semester of my second year came. I was hesitant. The idea of staying on for the OTD had always been at the back of my mind from day one. However, I found myself questioning if even know where I wanted to be for my residency. I still had one immersion left. What I needed at that time was to “OT myself”. After taking a step back and allowing myself to breathe, I made a list of the pros and cons of applying for the OTD. I reflected on my initial inspiration of why I wanted to be an OT. Having this visual, and having taken the time to re-connect with my goals, I was able to see that all the amazing qualities of Chan that inspired me to apply for the Masters, stood true of the Doctorate. However this time, I wasn’t running into darkness unarmed. With me were all the tools of an entry-level practitioner. Now that I am beginning my residency, I strongly feel that I made the right choice. I find myself better positioned to expand my knowledge to elevate my future practice with the support of my mentor, Dr. Rebecca Aldrich, and the Chan Division. Moving forward, I am excited to share with you my experience and hope to provide useful insights into OTD.