A Few (5) of My Favourite Things
It’s the time of the year where time is on everyone’s mind. I mean, it’s kind of hard for it not to be when four days from now many of us will be watching a giant clock countdown to the Gregorian calendar new year. As I prepare for the year to come, I’d like to reflect on the years that have passed, specifically the past five years of the BS-MA program, and share with you all my favourite things from each year. I’ve already shared about my BS-MA cohort, so this will focus on the progressive degree experience itself. As I mentioned before, the program offers you a breadth of flexibility in designing your own experience while also being structured with prerequisite courses before you officially enter the graduate program. With that said, no two students’ journeys are alike.
Year 1: An Introduction to OT and OS
This is where the magic begins! The first year is where, at the very least, you take OT 250 and I cannot imagine a better start to the USC Chan journey. It’s a sort of an all-you-can-eat buffet of OT where you’re exposed to the breadth of what OT brings to the table. This course covers motivational interviewing to lifestyle redesign, flow to challenge-skill balance, stress management to sleep, habits and routines, and much, much more. As a testament to how much I enjoyed this class, I remember the final with Dr. Kate Crowley like it was yesterday. My group was assigned to present on the stress management module and we chose to recreate a traffic scenario one of my group members had experienced. We converted the wheely chairs in the classroom into cars and re-lived the experience in front of the class with classic movie voice-overs to narrate the scene and what was happening in the body. Now that’s how you end your first semester the right way!
Year 2: The Intercampus Shuttle
Depending on the specific way your cookie crumbles this moment may come sooner, but by year two you’re ready for the intercampus shuttle! USC has shuttles that go to many places, but the intercampus shuttle stops at the main campus (UPC), Union Station, and the health science campus (HSC). The shuttle runs about every 30 minutes or so and takes about as long. Believe me when I say, to this day I still love this bus. It’s the perfect time to catch up with your cohort, listen to some music, nap, or cram in some last-minute studying for anatomy or physiology. More than this, it made me feel like a ✨professional!✨ You’re commuting, you’re on a health science campus in the heart of OT at USC, and living the dream. Honestly, they might as well just hand you your degree right then and there (well, maybe not yet, but you’re definitely on your way)!
Year 3: Foundations
Although split between year three and year four, this is when you start taking the graduate-level foundational courses and it is designed in a way that makes the transition so smooth. This year is when you wrap up any double majors or minors so you’re still taking an interdisciplinary course load, but you’re starting to get into the bread and butter of OT at the same time. This time is precious because you take these foundation courses with your BS-OT cohort. Not only are you strengthening those relationships, but you’re also starting to build new relationships with the graduate faculty in a more intimate classroom setting. From the small group discussions and practical applications to the professor interactions, this experience brought everything I learned up until this point into focus and I felt prepared for the next chapter of the program.
Year 4: A Program Within a Program
And the time has finally arrived, you are a graduate student! If that isn’t exciting enough for you, you’ve now also expanded your network of OT-lovers to include 140 more people! Although this may feel intimidating at first, you will be split into a smaller immersion cohort with whom you will travel through the rest of the program. This program within a program includes Mental Health, Pediatrics, Adult Physical Rehabilitation, and the newly introduced Productive Aging and Geriatrics immersions. Year 4 will continue the building on Year 3’s foundations while also guiding you to be responsive, reflective, and engaged in your future practice and giving you a taste of what that practice could look like. This year is so exciting because you start to feel what it’s like to be a real-life OT!
Year 5: The Freedom to Choose
As I am still in my fifth year, I cannot capture it in 20/20 hindsight, but I can share something that I am sure will be my upcoming favourite. Sometimes you just don’t click with a required course which, I’m here to tell you, is not a bad thing! It’s a good sign that you are starting to hone in on the OT you want to be and in year five you get the chance to create your own adventure. When you reach this point in the program, you’re able to start selecting the electives you’d like to take before graduating. These courses can contribute to advanced certifications, enrich your knowledge in a particular practice area, or just help you strengthen your general skills as an OT and you get to choose them! It’s like being a first-year again, but this time you know what you’re looking for. The freedom to choose goes beyond electives, however, and also encompasses your next steps. What type of residency would you like? What practice area will you pursue? Will you seek out any additional degrees? Take some time to reflect on everything you’ve done so far and start asking yourself these questions. The future starts now!
Although I advertised 5 favourite things, in the true spirit of looking forward, here is a bonus sixth favourite thing to celebrate the sixth year of the new BS-OTD!
Year 6: The Last Chapter
The fact that you have to say goodbye makes the journey up to that moment all the more special. Relish each year you have here and carry it, and the people you met along the way, with you as you move forward, but do move forward. You’ve put in the work and you are ready. Here’s to graduation (whenever that may be for you)!