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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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Better late than never ⟩
April 10, 2013, by Paula

Classes Community Externships Getting Involved

It has been WAY too long since I have made an entry (whoops!). The past month has been filled with so many activities, visitors, projects, discussions, and so much planning for the remainder of the semester! Although the externship is now a few weeks behind us, I know that it is constantly present in each of our minds. As I mentioned weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to work alongside an interdisciplinary palliative care team here in Los Angeles and to advocate the importance of an OT being a member of their team. My experience was so eye-opening and I think of the people I worked with through those two weeks still every day — I know that this will not change anytime soon. The team was extremely receptive and supportive of what I had to bring to the table and of my ideas and examples for the applicability of OT to serve this population. It was a very exciting, invigorating experience for me to be able to advocate for the profession in this way.

Needless to say, this is a challenging population to work with no matter how you look at things. Overall, it was great to see how the team supports one another and how they ultimately put the family and their concerns at the forefront of treatment. Although we would all wish this quality of treatment for a family member or friend, it is sadly not the reality for many people needing medical attention. One of the most powerful experiences I had during my externship occurred in debrief/conversation with my direct supervisor after we had visited a patient and the family. She told me: “you have to have somewhere to put all of this.” And it is as simple as that. We require balance just as our patients do. If we as practitioners don’t take the time to process and really work through what we are experiencing in the workplace, then how are we possibly expecting to provide our patients with the highest quality of care we can offer? It made me think back to a professor within the Division who told the class in one of our first lectures when we began the program. She told us all that “you need to have therapy before you can give therapy.” This gives a whole new way for us as OTs to evaluate our own capacity for MINDFULNESS. :]

This past Friday, the Division hosted the Admitted Student Reception in which we welcomed the newest addition to the USC OT family — SO FUN! It was great to be a part of this event as a Student Ambassador, as I very clearly remember the 2011 Reception where I finally decided to take the USC plunge :] The new class is amazing and so enthusiastic about OT.

Saturday was the annual Relay For Life at USC. This event is a 24-hour fundraiser for The American Cancer Society and has been close to my heart for many years. Our team this year, “OT4LIFE,” was a great representation of OT spirit. This event made me think back to the days at my externship site and the support and value that a community can provide to someone fighting through such a hard battle, such as those living with cancer. Many of the children I worked with had been told that they would not make it to their next birthday. At Relay, I was able to speak with several adults who had been told the same thing, either about their own health or that of their child. But they were still present at an event in order to give back and continue to be involved in the community which had offered them support in a difficult time. Talk about perseverance and having the will to FIGHT BACK. Read about one of the touching stories shared at Relay For Life.

Group photo with OT Month banner

We’re just 10 days into April and OT month with so many awesome events and experiences already. Keep them coming, I’m loving it.


Dos Mujeres Fuertes ⟩
April 8, 2013, by Ricky

Community Getting Involved

This weekend, I had the honor of volunteering at Mujeres Fuertes. As those of you who read her blog may already know, my co-ambassador/classmate, Kendra, has co-founded a community-based program for at-risk women. The program takes place every other week in Boyle Heights. I mentioned to Kendra, several times, that I lived right down the street from the place — I think I might have finally worn her down because she and her co-founder, Jane, invited me to help-out yesterday. 😊 Oh my goodness!!!!! Jane sent the volunteers an email this morning saying how she was “impressed, humbled, and very proud” of our participation. Well, I cannot tell you all how impressed, humbled, and super-very proud I am of these two young ladies! I didn’t know how powerful one hour every other week could be, but yesterday I met some women who have made some marked progress in their daily lives. Even during the session, these women were experiencing some profound personal growth, and being drawn to tears. These girls have brought some real value to this community. I was floored by their level of professionalism, in how well prepared and creative they were, and how therapeutic and receptive they were. It seemed like they had been running the program for several years. Again, so proud of you gals.  Keep it up!


Faculty Dinner ⟩
April 4, 2013, by Alisa

Community School/Life Balance

Last week a group of students were able to enjoy dinner with faculty at California Pizza Kitchen in support of a fundraiser for OTSC (Occupational Therapy and Science Council). It was great to be able to see faculty outside of class and got to know them on a more personal level. I love being able to learn more about their histories, passions, and experiences both OT and non-OT related. Shout out to Dr. Clark, Dr. Cermak, and Dr. Solomon for making time for students despite their busy schedules.

Dinner with faculty at California Pizza Kitchen


Mujeres Fuertes ⟩
March 19, 2013, by Kendra

Community Externships What are OS/OT?

These last two weeks I have been at my externship. This is our opportunity to ‘bridge the gap’ in our learning or expand upon specific areas of interest before we are released into the wild, wild world of REAL WORK!

I have chosen to focus on learning about the intricacies of creating, operating and funding a non-profit. The non-profit would support the current group a classmate and I run, Mujeres Fuertes. This group is a perfect example of how my education at USC OT has the potential to transfer directly to the real world. We designed the group in our Occupation-centered programs for the community class last fall. The response was so positive, we received funding from a local non-profit to start implementing the group!

Wow, right?!

The group has been an amazing success. Through our needs assessment, we were able to identify that people, specifically women, living in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of LA, have an increased incidence of chronic illness, many of which are lifestyle related and preventable. Every other week we meet with two groups of 10 women for an hour, set goals and learn about stress management, nutrition, and exercise. It’s also an opportunity for the women to become health advocates that promote change at the personal, family, and community level.

We feel so confident a group like this can have rippling effects throughout many communities, we are now taking it to the next level, obtaining more funding and potentially establishing a non-profit. Its a lot to learn, but California is incredibly supportive of little programs like ours.

Each time I feel nervous or overwhelmed, I think of the women who call me their inspiration, that are making small changes every week to improve their lives. I cannot let them down, and I’m grateful for the chance to learn how to run a business, so that I won’t.


Welcome back! ⟩
January 16, 2013, by Paula

Community Living in LA School/Life Balance

It is a bit scary how quickly 4 weeks can go by — especially when it is the last time that you will have no obligations for an unforeseen period of time. After a month of break, we have all returned to the Division here at USC and are settling into new class and work schedules. It has been great to see everyone again! Some congratulations were in order for classmates with exciting news from the break — engagements, OTD residency decisions and summer fieldwork placements. Each of the professors I have had class with thus far have commented about how close we all seem, since it is very difficult to quiet the chatter and hugging at the beginning of a new class. I guess it goes to show what happens when you throw 100+ OT students into an auditorium.

Over the break, I had a wonderful time catching up with family and friends. Many adventures were had and I was happy to play tourist in my hometown for a while, going sight-seeing in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities. My sister was gracious enough to allow some friends and I to use her home as our own for a weekend so we were all able to try out “city living” for that period of time. Definitely a highlight of my break — what a wonderful, beautiful city. I was also able to spend a fair amount of time in San Luis Obispo (my favorite non-home location, as many of you know) :]. It was great to relax there with friends and see Occupational Therapists who I had the opportunity to work with prior to entering this program.

The break was rejuvenating, restful and full of new memories, just as I had hoped it would be. I did find myself anxious to return to school, who wouldn’t be ready to kick off the LAST semester of graduate school?? I look forward to the electives which we have the opportunity to take this semester as second year students. I have chosen to take the SI, motor control, hands and dysphagia courses so you can bet that I will be sharing my experiences with all of you!

Photo montage of holiday activities

Enjoy this snapshot of my time spent over break!

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