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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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Student Blog


Electives and Field Trips ⟩
January 21, 2020, by Kat


Second semester of your second year in the OT program at USC is the freedom semester! This is when you are tasked with a difficult yet rewarding, complicated yet exciting, cut throat task of choosing . . . drumroll pleaseeee . . . your own electives!! Having the freedom to choose electives is kind of a double edged sword. There are so many great electives to choose from. There’s early intervention, acute care, motor rehab, to name a few. You can even opt to take elective courses on the main campus in other departments. Let’s say you are interested in running your own clinic one day, so maybe you take a business course. Second semester of your second year is meant for students to take lead in their learning and pursue topics and subjects that align with their interests and their future careers. If you are like me though, every class sounds interesting, which is why making a decision on what to take can be so difficult. There are still a few courses that are required, however, you get to choose how to fill up the rest of your credits.

Anywaysss . . . one of the classes I am taking right now is OT 571 Assistive Technology with Dr. Colin Lenington. Today in class we had the opportunity to go to Mobility Evaluation Program in the city of Bell where we met with individuals who specialize in helping people with disabilities be independent with their driving. During our field trip (Field trips in grad school? What??), my class and I were able to learn about some of the cool adaptive equipment that can be used to help people with varying disabilities to drive. If you think about it, driving is such an integral part of our everyday occupations, especially here in LA. It was such an eye opening experience for me. I had no idea this type of equipment was out there. As a class, we even had the opportunity to see the assistive tech we learned about in use with 2 clients that were there to demonstrate their personalized equipment.

I am not sure the specific realm of OT I want to go into yet. But I do know that I was blown away by the impact that helping someone with a task that I take for granted, driving, can have on an individual who navigates through the world differently than I do. Long story short, I am excited to see what else I learn in OT 571 Assistive Technology, along with my other courses. Cheers to an exciting semester . . . and to hopefully figuring out what area of OT I want to go into.

Check out my class and some assistive tech! 

Pictured is the current Assistive Technology class with two clients from the visited site

My Assistive Technology class with 2 clients that shared their experience with us. We are so grateful for their willingness to share with us! (Photo shared with permission from all individuals depicted)

Pictured is an adapted steering wheel to allow clients to drive in the horizontal plane instead of the usual vertical plane

Here is an example of an adapted steering wheel a client may need to allow them to drive in a horizontal plane versus the “typical” vertical plane. This type of steering wheel is similar to what is seen on school buses. The steering is situated over the client’s lap as opposed to being mounted on the dashboard. On the floor of the car, you can also see where a wheelchair can be secured in place instead of the original car seat.


Fight on in Fieldwork ✌ ⟩
November 4, 2019, by Kat

Fieldwork What are OS/OT?

October 21st–25th . . . my full week of fieldwork . . .

This semester, for my adult rehab level I fieldwork, I was placed at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. A moment of honesty . . . prior to this placement I had little knowledge about what OTs did in the hospital setting. I remember walking in on my first day in scrubs and not knowing what to expect. On my first day I got put to the test though! My CI (clinical instructor) had a patient that was in the ICU (intensive care unit) who she was going to co-treat with a PT. The patient’s case was quite complicated and they needed help. I helped manage the patient’s lines (meaning I helped with all of the IV’s and tubes) as the OT and PT helped the patient sit on the edge of his bed. This small task of managing a patient’s lines gave me great insight into the impact that an acute inpatient OT can have on a person. Throughout my time at St. John’s I have learned that OTs in the hospital setting are essential to the safety and quality of life of patients. Not only do they ensure that a patient can be safe with their self-care routine, but they also help develop or fine tune the skills necessary for patients to be able to continue participating in the activities that are important to them — their meaningful occupations!

During my full week, I was able to see so many things. I was in the inpatient wings, the NICU (with the wittle babies!), and also had a trip down to the ER to see what a respiratory therapist does and how their work can influence the work an OT does. I was busssyyy! But I had so much fun. Also, how cool is it that my CI is an alumni from USC?! I can honestly say that I am blessed to be shadowing and working with the AMAZING Ally Buescher. I have learned so much from her. She has high expectations for me as a level I student which is pushing me to develop my clinical reasoning skills. She also has so much knowledge about the field and about the program at USC, which is helpful when I have a million questions.

USC has a deep line-up when it comes to networking. USC releases talented OTs into the world and many of them host students for their fieldwork. We literally have people everywhere! National and international possibilities are available. It is nice to know that as a student, I am well taken care of by the fieldwork coordinators here in the Chan Division. The fieldwork opportunities I have been able to experience so far have been one of a kind. My first ever level I fieldwork experience was a competitive Skid Row Housing Trust position where I was mentored by the renowned Dr. Deborah Pitts! This specific mentorship was made possible because of a city grant that was established for the Fall of 2018. Here’s a little more info about Level I fieldwork.

Long story short, my full week of fieldwork was a blast and USC offers remarkable fieldwork experiences!

Pictured is me with my CI from fieldwork holding up the Fight On sign

Ally and I reppin that Trojan life! Fight on! ✌ PS, we coordinate our shoe game


Finding my Squad in Black Excellence ⟩
October 14, 2019, by Kat


This past weekend I went to the Black Graduate Student Network’s (BGSN) Kick the Day Back event. It was lit and I had so much fun! I had the opportunity to meet other Black grad students, network, and had a great time doing so. USC BGSN is a student organization that emphasizes “building a family we can utilize as a network”. This resonates with me as a Black student in the OT program. Finding community and belonging can be difficult. But having student orgs like BGSN that put on events that promote unity and community make it a lot easier for a minority student like myself. This past weekend I met PhD pharmacy, law, and masters of education in PASA students. It was an incredible feeling to be in a room filled with Black excellence. The BGSN hosts a variety of events throughout the school year such as their upcoming tailgate that will be held on the quad at the main campus this Saturday (10/19/19). They even have Spotify playlists you should check out for great music

During my undergraduate studies, it was easier to find communities I belonged to because of living on campus, sports I participated in, and having classes everyday. Graduate school is a whole new ball game when it comes to finding your niche. Luckily USC offers a number of student orgs specifically for the minority population such as the LatinX Student Assembly (LSA) and the Sistah Circle. The Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs (CBCSA) is a great resource for Black students looking for empowerment and engagement with campus life.

After this weekend, I know I found my crew with the BGSN! Periodt!
Don’t be afraid to branch out, be social, and find your squad, if you haven’t already.

Pictured are friends I made this week at the BGSN event, Cas Walker and Celeste Brown

Friends I made this week at the BGSN event (Cas Walker and Celeste Brown) #blackgirlmagic


Pin Your Way Through School and Life ⟩
September 16, 2019, by Kat

Life Hacks

First off, if you don’t have a Pinterest account, stop reading this and go create an account. Now that we have that squared away, Pinterest saves lives! I started using the site back in high school, and have continued now into my graduate studies. I can honestly say that I have used this resource countless times over the years. You can find almost anything you can think of on this site and save it by “pinning” it to different boards that you create. Plus they have an app which makes it super convenient to have on your phone. Pinterest is known for being the go-to place for DIY’s, which it is. But it is also my go-to place to find recipes, fitness motivation, and even hairstyle inspiration for my curly hair. Over the years of using Pinterest, I have created a lot of boards and pinned tons of things. I’d like to share some of the items I have saved and some tips on how to search and use the site:

  1. Meal Prepping
    Meal prepping makes balancing graduate school, work, and trying to eat healthy while on a budget doable. Personally, I am not a plain baked chicken, with plain rice, and plain veggies kind of girl. I like to eat well seasoned and spiced up food. This is where Pinterest helps me find new and exciting recipes to try. When searching for a new meal to try, it depends on the mood I am in. Sometimes I’ll search for quick easy dinners while other times I search for a specific dish like roasted vegetables. Here is a pin that has 30 minute meal prepping ideas.
  2. Self-Care
    Self-care is important at any stage in life. Finding time for self-care with a busy schedule can seem like a chore. At least for me it can be. Searching for self-care pins has broadened my perspective on what self-care means. One pin in particular that has helped me is 6 Types of Self-Care. This sight breaks self-care down into 6 categories: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, and sensory. Viewing self-care in this manner has helped me follow through with remembering to take time for myself.
  3. Study Habits
    Coming into graduate school, I had a pretty good idea of what study habits worked for me. I am a visual learner and I need to write things out so I can get kinesthetic feedback. However, with different classes and types of materials, sometimes I need to switch up my study approach. Search terms such as study habits college or study habits for exams have provided useful tips.
  4. OT Interventions
    Believe it or not, you can even find OT intervention ideas on Pinterest. This past summer, I did my level II fieldwork at an outpatient sensory integration clinic. Towards the end of my fieldwork, I managed my own caseload of clients and was responsible for creating interventions, or activities, for each client based on their age, diagnosis, and interests. In searching OT interventions for kids on Pinterest, I came across a fun pizza making craft activity that I then tailored to match the skills that clients were working towards to meet their goals. Making pizza was a hit with my clients! They were very engaged!

Long story short . . . there are pins out there for everything. Pinterest has millions of ideas that you can add your own spin to and make your own. Just play around with search terms and word combinations. Happy pinning!

*Disclaimer: Not sponsored by Pinterest. I just wanted to pass along a resource.*


Plan. Period! ⟩
August 29, 2019, by Kat

Life Hacks

The new semester is starting and I already have tons of things on my to-do list. Whats my game plan for the semester? A PLANNER!! During the fall semester I will be in the Adult Rehab immersion, working as a student ambassador for the Chan Division, and trying to balance life with family and friends. Personally, I find that a planner saves my life during a busy season. Writing due dates for assignments, work schedule, and dates with friends helps me keep track of upcoming events and how to prioritize my week. Having a visual aid for me to help support my completion of tasks and responsibilities is something that could also be done with a client to support their engagement in meaningful occupations.

Kickboxing, running, cooking, and hanging out with friends are some of my favorite occupations. With a busy semester ahead, it is important for me to make time for my meaningful occupations in order to stay sane and find a little time for self-care. Finding activities that help you rejuvenate, clear your mind, and that you enjoy are an important part of living a balanced life. I am able to find time for my favorite occupations by planning ahead and using time management skills. By practicing these skills on myself, I am able to refine them so I can implement or adjust them with future clients.

There are many ways to stay organized, such as using Google Calendar, reminders on your phone, sticky notes on your mirror, or old school paper and pen. All in all, be an OT and get creative. Find the method that works best for you! It may also work for a future client!

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