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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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White coats, scantrons, and football, oh my! ⟩
September 5, 2014, by Claire

Classes School/Life Balance

Happy Friday! Last week, our division held the white coat ceremony for our MAI, MAII (including BS-MA), and OTD students. It was very exciting to see everyone look so professional (and spiffy) in their white coats. I remember when taking the oath last year, I was very inspired by what occupational therapists value and strive to do in their practice. Congratulations to all of you!

This week is our second week of class! I am currently in the adult physical rehabilitation immersion, and the course has taken on a new format known as Team-Based Learning, where learning takes place in a team setting as opposed to traditional teaching styles like lecture. In general, the process is: 1. Pre-readings; 2. Individual Readiness Assurance Test (IRAT); 3. Group Readiness Assurance Test (GRAT); 4. Reviewing Test; 5. Case Applications. To be honest, some of us were a little skeptical about the model when it was first introduced to us. Personally, I was worried about completing the pre-reading and missing information that would have been presented in a lecture. However, our professors continually referenced the research behind this style of teaching and we had our first “RAT”s this week. I found myself much more engaged in the entire process — our adrenaline was definitely running and it encouraged active discussion. Plus, the GRAT is a scratch-off scantron and there’s something exciting about seeing a star on your scantron to notify your team that the answer chosen is correct. I’m interested in seeing how the rest of the semester will play out!

Last weekend we kicked off the football season with a win against Fresno State. Tomorrow USC takes on Stanford. I know several friends who are trekking up to NorCal this weekend for the game (we call it the “weekender”). Fight on!


The End and the Beginning ⟩
May 12, 2014, by Clarissa

Beginnings and Endings Classes

I’m graduating this Friday! Time really has flown. So much has happened this Spring semester and I have a dream that I will still post 15+ blog posts this week so I can update all of you about the past 3 months. Get ready for my blog binge!

Life has been crazy. I was so busy the week before this studying for the comprehensive exam, which took place last Monday. The exam consisted of 6 classes of material that spanned from Fall semester of first year to Spring semester of our second year. Yes, when I say “comprehensive,” I really mean comprehensive! Our class was great, though, about making study guides together for the test.

So I found out a couple days later that I passed it! It looks like my Master’s is in the bag (given that I pass this summer’s clinical internship). WOOHOO! Here’s my fellow student ambassador Rob and I celebrating our victory! We’re moving on to bigger things!

What bigger and better things, you ask? I have 3 months of clinical internship this summer at California Children’s Services, which is a pediatric physical disabilities site. This is the practice area I want to go into, so I’m really excited for my experience there this summer!

Another big experience on the horizon is my doctoral residency next year! At USC, we have a doctorate program that takes 1 year to complete after we finish the Master’s. The residency has several tracks and I’m doing the “Advanced Clinical Practice” track. I’ve been researching and interviewing at different potential residency sites throughout this semester.

After doing observations last week at a couple of sites, I finally decided on spending the next year at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center as a doctoral resident. I actually took the motor control class here last year and I fell in love with this place — hooray for more learning and growing at this amazing institution next year!


Pause . . . and Rewind ⟩
May 2, 2014, by Samar

Classes Community

I can’t believe I had my final MA class! It feels like it was only yesterday when I moved to California and started the master’s program at USC. I remember orientation as if it happened yesterday. I vividly remember the feeling I had during that day; a good mix of nervousness, excitement and hopefulness of the all possibilities yet to come. This year has been amazing on so many levels. I’ve started the year in a room full of strangers as my classmates. Now, we are graduating and celebrating our success together as a family. Moreover, I’ve had the fortune to meet the top leaders in the occupational therapy profession and have embraced my inner geek by taking pictures with each and every one of them: Dr. Florence Clark, Dr. Jane Case-Smith, Dr. Patricia Nagaishi (OTAC president), and Dr. Virginia Stoffel (AOTA president). In 14 days, I plan to add to my picture collection one of me and Dr. Elizabeth Yerxa at the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Satellite Commencement Ceremony. That day is going to be so surreal! I guess I should stop thinking about graduation and think of the comprehensive exam I am taking on Monday . . . Wish me luck!


OMG: It’s The Comps!!! ⟩
April 30, 2014, by Kate


As master’s students, we are all going to be taking a test this coming Monday called the comprehensive exam, or the “comps.” The test covers 6 courses that we have taken during our 2 years here:

  • Neuroscience of Behavior
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Research
  • Health and Wellness
  • Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science
  • Leadership Capstone

We have 25 questions on each subject, adding up to an exam that is 150 multiple choice questions. It is a beast of a test, no doubt, and I am in the midst of battling it. Our comps are on Monday, May 5th at 9 am!!!

Our class has worked together to create study guides that cover each semester. There is information on dopamine pathways, qualitative research theory, sections of Medicare, statistics, and occupational science history. The study guides average 80 pages per class, and it is difficult to take in so much information, especially if it was in the fall of 2012. But, I know this is my final push before graduation and I will get out what I put in!

Every night, I’ve been studying a bit more, just trying to get through the study guides and impart the important points in each subject. Please wish me and my classmates luck as I continue on my study journey — and on our big test next Monday!

Ambassador Rob is studying hard for the comps!

Ambassador Rob is studying hard for the comps!


Elderly Drivers and Community Mobility ⟩
April 23, 2014, by Jen

Classes Diversity What are OS/OT?

In my leadership capstone course, we had an interesting discussion on elderly drivers and community mobility. I found it interesting that although senior drivers are safest compared to other drivers on the road, they are more likely to be injured or killed in an accident. I am not sure of the exact reason for this, but I believe it could be because their health may already be compromised due to their old age. I also think a reason they may be more likely to be injured or killed when involved in an accident (even if they are not the reason for the accident) is that their reflexes may be slower so they are not able to protect themselves as quickly. There are a number of barriers that elderly drivers face. One of them mentioned in the forum was how unmet transportation needs are linked to reduced well-being. This reminded me of a client I had who used a ride share program to get to their therapy appointments. Although they valued therapy sometimes their ride would be very early or very late in picking them up and dropping them off. This became quite a problem because it greatly interfered with how they spent their time. Instead of coming to therapy for an hour session, they frequently would get dropped off up to 45 minutes before therapy and not get picked up until an hour after therapy ended. This caused the time they dedicated to therapy each week to become almost 3 hours (with most of the time being waiting for their ride) instead of spending their time doing things they would like to do. I hope in the near future these types of issues will become less common for older adults.

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