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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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A Day In My Life


by Kayla

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My day starts bright and early. I wake up at 6:30AM, throw on my scrubs, take out my dog, Buffy, throw on my winter coat, scarf, and gloves (it’s the middle of Chicago winter) and head out the door around 6:50AM! I am not a morning person, so I have this process down to a science!

Bundled up to face the cold!

Bundled up to face the cold!

After my commute, parking, and making my way into the hospital I sit down to chart review my patients at about 7:40AM. I decide which patients I want to see for the day, look for new consults, and get well-versed on what brought everyone into the hospital! (This part is one of my favorites as an acute care therapist, learning about all of the different diagnoses and procedures is so interesting!)

At 8AM I meet with my residency site preceptor to finalize my caseload, ask questions, and set up times to complete mentorship sessions throughout the day. At 8:15 we have our OT department huddle (via Zoom as to be covid friendly) and then get started with our day!

Between 8:20 and 9:00AM I create a general schedule to follow based on priority and reach out to my PT partners to schedule any co-treats for the day.

At 9AM…. My absolute favorite part begins, seeing my patients! I typically see patients from 9-12PM and then sit down for lunch and to complete some notes from my morning sessions until 1-1:30 PM! (Sometimes the other therapists/fieldwork students host in-services during lunch, so it’s an opportunity to learn while I eat!)

From 1:30-3PM I see my afternoon patients (admittedly, it is hard to get back into the swing of the fast-paced nature of acute care with a full tummy after lunch). At 3 o’clock I meet with my preceptor to go over my patients from the day and plan for the next day, ask any questions that came up during my treatment, and complete my documentation.

I typically get home between 5-6PM (after work traffic is a monster). When I get home I take a second to breathe and reflect on the day before jumping into my tasks for the evenings. Each evening looks a little different based on the day. Some days I have 2-3 hours of class, a couple of meetings, or 1-2 hours of homework to stay current and on track with OTD course curriculum. I typically complete work until about 9PM and then wind down for the day! And of course, an hour or so of tiktok is ~usually~ in the cards before turning in around 11PM.

On days that I don’t have work, class, or meetings, I love to Facetime with my friends and family back home, go on a good therapeutic trip to Target, or try new restaurants in my neighborhood! While my days are long and sometimes very tiring, they are filled with everything I expected from an acute care residency.

Pro tip: Find a current resident working in a similar site/practice context as you and pick their brain about their daily schedule/workflow. It’s so SO helpful in beginning to conceptualize what your upcoming year will look like and help you plan and prepare accordingly!

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