University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog | Kaho

Kaho

The 2020 (course) Elections
Posted , by Kaho

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Welcome back everyone, and happy 2020! I hope you all had a restful and restoring winter break. I flew home to Japan for the full four weeks and I got to travel all over with my family. I spent some time in northern Japan, snowboarding and skiing in the snowy mountains, as well as in Japan’s southernmost tropical island, scuba diving and sightseeing! I feel like I experienced all four seasons in four weeks. Now I’m back in school, my jetlag has passed, and I am officially back on the grind. I’m beginning my last semester of classes for the master’s program, which means (as many of you may know)… electives! The Chan Division offers a wide variety of elective courses to choose from and these courses prepare you in specialty areas that you may want to pursue once you get out into the real world. You also have the option to take courses in other USC schools, such as the school of business, public policy, arts and sciences, etc. I’ll share with you today the courses that I’m taking, but past ambassadors have also written blog posts about what classes they took so be sure to check those out if you’re interested in learning more about what goes on in each class.

  • OT 561: Occupation Therapy in Acute Care
    For anyone interested in working in hospitals eventually or anyone interested in learning the more medical side of OT, this class is fantastic. This course goes over various systems of the human body and the implications for therapy when a person has issues in any of them. You get a sneak peek into the exciting and fast-paced life of an acute care OT and even get to observe it first hand through the clinical hands-on portion of the class! Similar to Level 1 fieldwork, you get paired with a clinical instructor at Keck Hospital and you get to follow them for several sessions throughout the semester. We learn the names of common illnesses and their treatments, medical devices, and so on. Even though I’ve only sat through two lectures for this course so far, I already know that it’s going to be one of my favorites.
  • OT 578: Therapeutic Communication for the Healthcare Practitioner
    This course can be beneficial for anyone, regardless of what setting you’re interested in going into. You honestly don’t even have to be pursuing OT to benefit from this course. It trains you in a skill called Motivational Interviewing, which is a therapeutic communication style that can be used to facilitate change in clients. It also covers mindfulness practices, which can be a tool for myself as well in my own daily life. I know it’s going to make me a more effective communicator and a better listener for my friends, family, and clients so I’m really excited to learn more and practice. 
  • OT 579: Occupation-Based Adult Neurorehabilitation
    During my fieldwork experiences, I had the opportunity to work with several patients with spinal cord injuries and strokes. It can be devastating to lose function in your arms and legs and as you can imagine, OT can play a huge role in these people’s recoveries. This course teaches you and lets you practice various assessments that you may use in a neurorehab setting. We learn to analyze movement and consider how neurological impairments interfere with people’s ability to engage in meaningful occupations. It’s hands-on; students practice on each other while the professor demonstrates, and it’s all really interesting. As someone that wants to work in a variety of fields within the adult population, preferably in a hospital, this course supplies me with knowledge and skills that I know will come in handy during my career.

There are so many other classes that I was interested in taking, but time and the allowed number of units forced me to pick and choose. If you’re interested in learning about all the elective courses, check out the Chan website. I’m enjoying all of my classes so far, so I know it’s going to be a fast, exciting semester. And then I graduate! 😮 Have a great semester, everyone.

Kaho

Wrapping Up with Thanks
Posted , by Kaho

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I hope everyone had a relaxing and long Thanksgiving weekend surrounded by friends and family! Students of the Chan Division are back for their final week of classes and are sprinting to the finish line as they prepare for presentations, final papers, and exams. It’s a time of high stress, but I want to try to soak in the warm soothing vibes from Thanksgiving for a little while longer.

I spent my Thanksgiving this year with my boyfriend’s family here in SoCal. My family is far, far away in Japan and the holidays can be a lonely time for international students like me, so I’m really grateful to have been able to get that home-with-family feeling with lots of home cooked food. My cohort, Cohort A, also had a Friendsgiving potluck that week. I found out that everyone is a master chef and we had like… a century’s worth of food. It was amazing. Our professors, Dr. Diaz and Dr. Gunter, prepared turkey and ham for us too, so I’m not exaggerating when I say we had a FEAST.

cutting turkey

Dr. Diaz and my classmate, Daniel, cutting the turkey

cohort group picture

My favorite cohort 😉

*Sorry for the blurry photos, my phone has terrible quality*

As this semester comes to an end, I’m reflecting on all that’s happened (classes, fieldwork in pediatrics, elective courses selection, OTD application, externship planning, student ambassador events, etc. oh my) and how quickly these past 4 months or so have flown by. To be honest, this whole year and a half since I started the program has flown by. I can’t believe that I’ll be done with my final immersion by the end of next week and I only have one semester left until I graduate. I know that next semester will feel even faster because it’s filled with exciting elective courses and I’ll be working lots of events. Although I have an indefinite list of things that I’m thankful for, this year, I’m especially thankful for the friends that I’ve made and become closer to through the program, the opportunity to pursue my passion and study OT at USC, my teachers and mentors, my family that never fails to support and encourage me no matter how far they are, my support system back in San Diego from undergrad, and my good health/able body. I’m heading home to Japan over winter break and my annual family reunion is waiting for me on the other side of finals. It’s been a whole year since I’ve seen them, so I’m beyond excited and motivated to get through these last two weeks. I hope everyone has a great holiday season and good luck on finals! Finish strong!

Kaho

Studying without Stu(dying)
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I don’t know about you, but I’m easily distracted by my environment. As soon as I sit down to study, my brain convinces me that my entire house needs to be deep cleaned this instant, or that I need to meal prep for the next 2 weeks, or it suddenly reminds me of an errand I need to run that I’ve been putting off and is obviously not time sensitive. If I manage to win that internal battle and remain at my desk, then my bed starts to look incredibly cozy and warm and before I know it, I’m wrapped up in there like a burrito and hours have passed… Unfortunately, I just cannot study for long periods of time in the comfort of my own room or home. If you just nodded in agreement, this post is for you. 👉
After trying to study in various places around my house, I’ve found a few favorites that always get the productive juices in me flowing. I live near the main campus, UPC, so I usually study somewhere around there.

  1. The Village
    This is my favorite spot of all time. There are tables and chairs in the plaza next to a fountain, where numerous undergraduate and graduate students sit down to study or chat with friends. It’s outdoors, so I love being able to feel the calming breeze while soaking up some SoCal sun. There’s a Trader Joe’s, Target, and various shops surrounding the plaza, so I can always run for a snack or meal if I get hungry. If I need an outlet or I want to go indoors because I’m baking in the sun, there are cafés like Dulce and Starbucks that still promote productivity. When I need a quick break, I just look up from my books or laptop and people-watch. It may sound strange, but it’s really interesting to see all these different lives and situations coming together in one place. I just like to gaze around the plaza and see what people (and their dogs) are up to. I could study here for hours.
  2. USC village

    Tables and chairs in the USC Village plaza

  3. Doheny Library
    My second favorite is Doheny Library. In my opinion, it’s the prettiest library at USC. I go here when I really need to concentrate and grind out some work because it’s quieter than the Village and there are less people. It also kind of makes me feel like I’m in a Harry Potter movie, so I guess that helps too. There’s a study hall in the corner of this library where the ceiling is high, books line all of the walls, and there are numerous long tables for students to sit at. It gets an ample amount of natural light and outlets are conveniently located. Just sitting in the room instantly makes me feel more intelligent and motivated.

  4. Doheny Library

    Study hall at Hogwa—I mean, Doheny Library

  5. Any coffee shop
    I won’t go into much detail about this one because there are hundreds of influencers out there that can do a much better job than I can of ranking aesthetically pleasing LA coffee shops. But, I just wanted to point out the existence of numerous aesthetically pleasing LA coffee shops. Once you start exploring, the possibilities are endless. Just Google “best LA coffee shops” and you’re good to go. (Side note: The next place on my coffee exploration list is Blue Bottle because a dear friend got me a gift card. I’m pretty excited to try it this finals week.) Sitting down with a nice cup of coffee in a well-decorated space with relaxing music is always a good indicator of a productive day.

Finals week is coming up and it seems to be a tough time for a lot of people, but the least you can do is study in a space that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. You’ll definitely find me in one of these three places these coming weeks. Don’t forget to get some sun, listen to some music, eat well, sleep well, and good luck! 

Kaho

My First Level 2 Fieldwork (#TBT?)
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I know it’s November and summer feels like ages ago, but with wish-lists for the Summer 2020 level 2 fieldwork about to open up to 1st and 2nd year students, I wanted to reflect and share with you about my fieldwork experience from last summer.

For 12 weeks, I was in an inpatient acute care setting in a hospital in San Diego. As you’d imagine, it was very fast paced, challenging, exciting, etc. and I. Loved. It. Every day looked different and I was constantly learning new things. My clinical instructor (CI) has been an OT for tens of years and working at that specific hospital for over 5 years, but she mentioned that she still learns something new every day. Because the hospital didn’t have a large OT team, the OTs didn’t have an assigned area or floor. The patients in the entire hospital were distributed among the OTs randomly and equally, so I got to see everything from a person with cancer to a patient in neurology to a person with a new hip or a new knee. I was all over the floors, including the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It was definitely overwhelming at first with so many things to keep in mind and be aware of, and I was nervous to touch anything because it is a setting where careless mistakes could be unforgiving. Also, my level 1 fieldwork was in hand therapy, so this was my first time performing transfers on real patients. However, my CI was amazing at gradually increasing my responsibility and easing me into the bustling hospital halls. She talked me through every treatment session and constantly provided me feedback on my performance. Despite my doubts, I was independently evaluating, treating, and documenting patients by the end of the summer.

My days started at 7:00am and ended at 3:30pm. The first hour of my day consisted of looking up patients’ medical history, condition, precautions, and anything else that was relevant. I was usually up on the floors by 8:00am. I saw about 6-9 patients each day with my CI, depending on how many of them were evaluations since those take longer than regular treatment sessions. In the inpatient acute care setting, your schedule revolves around the patients’ schedules, so documentation occurred during gaps when none of my patients were available or at the end of the day.

One of my favorite things about working in the hospital was that there were many opportunities for collaboration across health care professions. I got to talk to and sometimes treat with physical therapists (PTs), speech language pathologists (SLPs), nurses, and even medical doctors (MDs). We would all bounce ideas off of each other to come up with a holistic treatment plan for each unique patient. With collaboration came opportunities for advocacy, as well. I can’t tell you how many times other health professionals and patients referred to me as PT during my fieldwork experience. Patients would say to me, “What, I just had PT. Why are you back?” or “Why are you taking me to the bathroom? I thought you were going to take me walking down the hallways.” Notes from the nurses or MDs would state things like, “Patient walked to bathroom with PT today.” It was frustrating, but it was a great opportunity for me to practice promoting OT and sharing my elevator speech about what OT is and why we’re great. 😊

Another exciting aspect of having fieldwork in acute care was watching surgeries. I got to watch four surgeries over the summer: a total hip replacement, a total knee replacement, spine surgery, and a deep brain stimulation. It was an incredible learning experience and it deepened my understanding of what surgical patients go through and how much pain they may be experiencing afterwards. It made seeing the patients’ joys of taking their first shower after surgery or being able to get to the edge of their bed and sit without support that much more meaningful.

Whether this is your first level 2 fieldwork or your second, consider the inpatient acute care setting at any hospital if all or any of this sounds intriguing to you. I had a very positive experience and I highly recommend it!

Kaho

Challenge Accepted
Posted , by Kaho

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Growing up, I did a lot of individual sports. I ran my first 10k when I was five and from there, I participated in cross country, track, and swimming throughout my school years. I would get so much anxiety the night before a race that I often would not be able to sleep and it felt like my heart would literally flutter out of my chest. Nervous thoughts would flood my brain like, “Am I ready?” “Have I trained enough?” “What if I finish last?” “What if I don’t finish at all?” My mom, who is also an experienced athlete, would sit me down before each race and give me a little pep talk to calm my nerves. She would say various things each time, but one phrase that she repeatedly included and therefore stuck with me is, “無理やと思ってからが本当の勝負” For all of my non-Japanese speaking readers out there, it roughly translates to, “The real battle begins after you think you’ve reached your limit.” This sentence has become so engraved into me that I still hear my mom’s voice in my head every time I’m challenged or stressed to the point that I think I can’t/don’t want to try any further. It has translated over from sports to all aspects of my life and has become my life motto. It has truly helped me throughout numerous stages of my life. (Side note: it’s my mom’s milestone birthday on Monday, so quick shout out to her 🎉 )

I’ve learned that whenever I think I’ve reached my limit, how far I’m able to push myself from that point after is the real test in my strength and character. It has helped me to reframe stressful, sometimes seemingly hopeless situations. When I feel tempted to give up, I pause, reflect, and reset my thoughts. I think, “Okay, I’ve made it to the edge of familiar grounds. This is where things get interesting and exciting because I’m now entering new territory. This is only the beginning of a new self-improvement opportunity.” Think of it this way: you’re playing a video game and you lose a life at level 15. It makes you start back at level 1, but this time, level 1-15 is a piece of cake because you’ve already experienced those levels. No acquirement of a new skill happens here. When you reach level 15 again, you feel a little adrenaline because this was where you fell last time. You’re about to enter a level that you have yet to successfully overcome. This time, you’re able to conquer the challenge and move on to level 16, then level 17. Your limit is now level 17 and you’ve pushed yourself further than what you were familiar with or could tolerate before. How I see it, it’s the same with life. Each time you push yourself past your perceived breaking point, your capacity grows that much more.

Every day, we’re faced with new challenges and I completely understand that it all becomes too overwhelming sometimes. However, something as simple as reframing your thoughts can switch up your mood and give you the courage to keep advancing. Next time you’re faced with a situation that makes you want to give up, try taking a different perspective and get excited! It’s an opportunity to grow and become an even better version of yourself. I don’t know who or if anyone needs to hear this right now, but you’re much more capable than you may think. Fight On!

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