Chika with Mika: Life as a Post-Professional Master’s Student 2022 Edition >
November 18, 2022
So in Tagalog, chika means “chit-chat”. For this month’s blog post (or rather vlog post), I wanted to chika with you what’s it like to be a post-professional master’s student here in USC Chan! Get to see the Health Science Campus where we have most of our classes and meet some of my friends here in the program. I also shared some clips of my adventures here in LA, particularly in the Grand Central Market, Griffith Park, and Venice Beach!
10 Things I Hate About Occupational Therapy >
October 19, 2022
The other night I was watching the classic romantic comedy, 10 Things I Hate About You, featuring the spunky Julia Stiles and the ever-so-charming Heath Ledger. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the scene of Patrick (Heath) dancing to Can’t Take My Eyes off You to swoon Kat (Julia), I think my favorite scene would still be the one where a tearful Kat lists down the 10 things she hates about Patrick in front of their whole class.
This scene got me thinking of a new idea for a blog post; and since World OT Day is coming, why not write a blog about 10 things I hate about OT?! Ironic, I know, but bear with me in this one.
So, without further ado, here are 10 things I hate about occupational therapy:
1. I hate that there is a lack of OTs.
2. I hate how OT services are viewed as a “privilege,” creating a lack of accessibility, especially for clients living in rural areas.
Back home in the Philippines, occupational therapy is deemed to be a profession in demand as there are more patients compared to the number of OTs. Although this may be a good thing for us in terms of job security, it is not quite ideal since a lot of patients who need our services are not receiving them immediately due to long waitlists and financial constraints. Most especially in rural areas, a lot of clients are usually left at home without proper care due to these issues. It is definitely not the best feeling to know how to help these clients but unable to do so due to lack of resources, time, and energy.
3. I hate how most OT principles are mostly based on Western perspectives.
Currently, I am taking a class in Occupational Science where my classmates and I are divided into small groups to discuss common issues in the practice of OT. One issue we discussed was that OT principles, frameworks, and models were mostly based on Western perspectives, making it difficult at times to adapt to non-Western cultures. With this, I think OTs, especially those who come from non-Western countries, should strive to adapt and promote their own culture and expertise to make the current knowledge more global.
4. I hate when some patients think OT is “magic” like a prescribed drug.
I say this not with the intention to put blame or shame on anyone, but rather, to put to light how a medical perspective is still favored over a more holistic one. Because of this, I strive to educate the caregivers of my pediatric clients to trust the process, to be patient with themselves and their children, and to always be mindful of the little wins they have in therapy.
5. I hate it when the profession is not known and often confused with Physical Therapy or with “Over Time.”
6. I hate how I get a professional identity crisis from time to time.
Numbers 5 and 6 are basically how you tell someone is an OT without saying you’re an OT. I would like to continue emphasizing the need and importance of Occupational Science to address these very common issues we face as a profession.
7. I hate when I was baptized by fire on my first day in my first job as a pediatric OT with tantrums, bites, and projectile vomit.
Honestly, I don’t hate it as much because I just think of it as a very funny fake-it-till-you-make-it story from my first years as a young professional. Looking back, I’m proud of myself for my growth as an OT in handling these situations and I thank my mentors in my pediatric centers (Shoutout to Therabilities South Therapy Center!) for guiding me.
8. I hate when parents or patients forget the big picture and get frustrated with their performance toward their goals.
I have worked with a lot of amazing parents who would move mountains for their children if they could. I would at times witness them (or even my patient) frustrated when their children are having bad days and would blame themselves for it. With this, I always reminded them that progress in therapy is not linear. There will be good days and there will be bad days. I would be the proudest therapist when my clients don’t let these bad days define their worth.
9. I hate when I could not hide my ugly-cry when I had to say goodbye to my clients before moving here to the States.
I would definitely say that my toxic trait is being a clingy therapist. It was absolutely the greatest honor to have been a therapist to my amazing, sassy, and silly kiddos whom I miss everyday.
10. (And in the most dramatic Julia-Stiles-performance I can give) “But mostly, I hate the way, I don’t hate [OT]. Not even close. Not even a little bit. Not even at all!”
I love my job and I believe that I have found my niche, my ikigai, in OT. Cheers to the profession that has helped me find purpose and meaning in my own life! <3
Advanced Happy World OT Day, everybody!
Life Goes On >
September 27, 2022
From the words of the great BTS,
“Life goes on.”
This song lyric often comes to mind while I scroll through videos online that romanticize life abroad, sometimes too much. Don’t get me wrong, having the opportunity to study abroad at a prestigious university is a great honor, especially during the pandemic. I thank the great gods of the universe for helping me manifest this dream. However, things are not always what we imagine, like anything in life. My first month in the States was a rollercoaster of emotions — 30% crying because I miss my home, 20% feels like I’ve been living like a caveman as I explore the wonders of Trader Joe’s and Bath and Body Works, and a great 50% being an absolute FOB* (or in my case, a FOP — Fresh Off the Plane) trying to learn and adapt quickly to an entirely new culture. Believe me, it takes a great deal of cognitive power to constantly convert Fahrenheit and miles to the metric system, understand why cars turn right at a red light, wondering why no one uses the umbrella to shade themselves from the killer heat of LA summer, and try to find the whereabouts of any celebrity visiting LA.
Kidding aside, I think the greatest adjustment I had to deal with as an international student was the grief I felt about the loss of occupations and the usual routines I performed back home. One thing I learned from the pandemic is that grief does not only come in the form of dealing with death; it is also what you feel when you lose anything — a person, a pet, an activity, or an object — that is of value to you. I felt grief because I could no longer walk my dogs and play with them after coming home from work. I could no longer drive to my favorite coffee shops back at home anytime I wanted nor randomly messaged my friends to bike around with me in our neighborhood. I struggled with this feeling mostly when I realized I would no longer see my child clients weekly and feared losing friendships since I’ll be in a time zone different from those I valued most. I often doubted my decision to move and worried that I was wasting my energy, time, and resources.
My perspective of things changed when I recalled one of my favorite quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” My why — my patients and the desire to be a better Occupational Therapist for them — pushed me to refocus my energy back on this ordeal and take things day by day. Slowly, those nights of grief and loneliness turned into nights of endless laughter and amusement as I got into the rhythm of new routines here in LA. Pushing myself to go out of my comfort zone and develop new friendships eventually led me to meet the kindest people. Somehow, they felt like home even if I had just met them.
My first month here in the States taught me that we are where we’re supposed to be and that everything will eventually work out as it should. Life does go on for the better, and if we choose to see the beauty of everyday despite the little adjustments and changes, we move one step closer to who we are meant to be.
*FOB — Fresh off the Boat, A slang term used for someone who recently moved to America