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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Ariel

HabitKick! ⟩
March 23, 2016, by Ariel

Externships

Hello again readers! It’s nice to get back into the swing of things now that we’re all back from our externships. If you need a refresher on what externships are, check out Heather’s blog!

Lots of students go abroad for their externships. I have friends who went on trips to Ghana, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Japan, and Ireland to learn more about how OT is practiced in other countries.

For my own externship, however, I decided to stay more local. Specifically, I completed my externship wherever my laptop was, because mine was a hands-on project! For my project, I designed a mobile app called HabitKick, which essentially aims to help users replace cigarette cravings with health-promoting behaviors.

HabitKick logo

At the beginning, I had no idea where to start. I had never done anything like this before, and all I had to move me forward was an app concept that I wanted to explore. However, after meetings with professionals from several disciplines, lots of trial and error, receiving feedback from friends and family, and performing a real-life trial of the main functionality behind the app, I was able to make better sense of how mobile technology can be used to help our patients form healthier habits and curb nicotine cravings.

Before diving into the whole design process, I began by simply ruminating on my idea — speaking with smokers I knew who were trying to quit and asking them informally about what kinds of features they would want to see in a smoking cessation app. The most exciting idea I heard was “I wish there was an app out there that could predict when I’m about to have a craving and then tell me to do something else to distract myself instead, like taking a walk or brushing my teeth.” The idea took hold in my mind.

I wanted to come at the project from a uniquely occupational therapy lens, so I made sure that the fundamental theory behind my app with regard to habit change and formation tied back to the concepts I had learned as a fieldwork student at the USC OT Faculty Practice. I set out to design an app that would learn when users tended to have nicotine cravings throughout the day (ie. “in the morning when I first wake up, at 6pm right after work) and then help them curb those cravings by suggesting alternative health-promoting activities to do instead at those times. The idea itself has grown and morphed a lot over the course of the design process, but the main crux of it still remains.

Overall, the externship presented a great opportunity for me to engage with occupational therapy in a way that I had always wanted to try my hand at, but had not had the same structure to carry out at prior points during the program.

Externship experiences are as unique as the 100+ students in each graduating class. If you’re a first-year student, or plan on entering USC’s OT program in the coming years, hopefully this little peak into my externship experience will give you some inspiration to start thinking about yours!

Rashelle

Annyeonghaseyo Korea! ⟩
March 22, 2016, by Rashelle

Externships International

Hello all! The past couple of weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of events for us second year master’s students. Each year for our leadership capstone, USC students participate in a 2-week externship. Heather describes in detail what that is in her previous blog.

I, along with 10 other classmates, chose to go to South Korea, to participate in one of externships provided by the USC Chan Division of Global Initiatives. We were split between three universities, Inje, Yonsei and Soonchunhyang, and were able to experience a cultural immersion within each respective occupational therapy department. We learned about occupational therapy by studying the diversity within health care and educational systems, along with culture-specific population needs of people with disabilities in Korea. As occupational therapists we realize the importance of understanding each client’s customs, routines and motivations in order to help them participate in meaningful activities. Inje University allowed us to obtain this cultural knowledge by interacting with professors and students, participating in occupational therapy treatment sessions at the HOPE clinic (Healing through Occupational Performance Enhancement) and attending classroom lectures. Dr. An, the therapist and professor we learned from in Korea, taught us specifically about how to be a compassionate, energetic and knowledgable leader in one’s field, which is a lesson that I will take with me no matter what practice area I enter. By coming to Korea we all received much more than we had expected. Aside from all of the knowledge gained about occupational therapy, we believe that we have truly grown as individuals by the relationships formed with Inje University administrators, professors and students.

Furthermore, while I learned so much from actually going to Korea, the best preparation for this trip actually came from meeting Korean students ahead of time during their visit to the United States! Six Yonsei University students actually came to USC about a month ago to experience a similar cultural immersion in America.

Koreans at Griffiths Park

While they were here to learn about occupational therapy at USC, we actually learned so much from them as well!

Koreans Presenting

They were able to give me a heads up on what to expect in Korea, and how to impress my friends at Inje University with popular Korean expressions and cute little hand gestures.

Heart Gesture

Now I can truly feel as though I know both sides of a cultural immersion, by serving as a host to Korean visitors, as well as a guest of honor. Neither of these experiences would have been possible though, without the planning and coordinating efforts of Dr. Daniel Park, and the rest of the USC Chan Division of Global Initiatives.

Koreans at USC

I am forever appreciative for the work that Global Initiatives has done to make these remarkable experiences possible! If you want to learn more about other Global Initiative projects you can see their Facebook at facebook.com/USCChanOSOTGlobal

Heather

So, what is the Externship? ⟩
October 28, 2015, by Heather

Externships

As part of the curriculum in the Entry-Level Master’s program, we are given the opportunity to capstone our professional development through a “Leadership Externship.” The externship is part of a course that is meant to foster skills in leadership, professional behavior, and an understanding in public policy and it impacts on our profession.

The externship is a two-week experience where students are provided with the opportunity to build leadership skills and explore an area that is of interest to them. In the past, students have traveled across the country and internationally to participate in a variety of experiences. Some examples include working with advocacy or cultural groups, volunteering for special interests groups such as the Red Cross or American Cancer Society, working in orphanages in Ghana and Thailand, and volunteering with community-based rehabilitation programs in Costa Rica and Turkey. Locally, students have spent their externships understanding the logistics of hospital administration and program development at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, and Norris Cancer Hospital.

I am just the beginning of planning for my externship. I have ambitions of traveling abroad with some of my classmates to a rehabilitation program in Cuba. I am also considering continuing my community-based project of working with musicians with repetitive motion injuries under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist or Certified Hand Therapist.

I am keeping my options open as I look forward to this opportunity in only a few months!

Jonathan

Leadership Capstone Project Part 2: PhilaPinas Drive ⟩
April 21, 2015, by Jonathan

Externships International Videos

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing great! OT Month is in full effect over here at the division, and best believe you can catch me walking down the hallway sporting one of our signature OT Month pins! In addition, I just got back from an awesome experience at AOTA, which I will be writing about more later in a future upcoming blog. Today’s blog is about the second part of my leadership project, in which I had the opportunity to carry out a philanthropic project I had curated in preparation for the leadership capstone experience, which I named PhilaPinas. In the beginning stages of preparing for this project, my initial goal was to raise $250 of funds to be utilized in purchasing slippers to be distributed to children walking barefoot in the rural provinces. However, through the amazing generosity of my family, friends, and classmates, we were able to collectively raise $1700 dollars of funds. Given this monumental donation, this evolved and expanded the project to reach several different sites in which we could extend our positive impact. In addition, I had no idea just how far this money would take us, as the dollar goes such a long way in the Philippines. Just to give you some perspective, I was able to purchase 100 slippers for only $33! Thus, you can only imagine how far $1700 dollars of raised funds would take us. In each site, we had the opportunity to meet the coordinators of these respective sites, meet the people who found refuge in these safe-havens, and assess what these places needed the most in terms of donated supplies. The donations consisted of various necessities and supplies, including baby soap, baby shampoo, milk, crackers, detergent, clothes, slippers, toothpaste, and much more!

The first site we had the pleasure of visiting was the Hospicio de San Jose Orphanage and Elderly home. This home provides refuge for all types of individuals, including pregnant mothers who are homeless, children with special needs, women who have been domestically or sexually abused, orphaned children, and homeless elderly. Their motto is “welcoming all people, from womb to the tomb.” Over 200 people call Hospicio de San Jose home, who have opened their doors to help underserved communities dating all the way back to 1810. To my pleasant surprise, Hospicio de San Jose even had an occupational therapy department! I had the opportunity to meet with their team members, and hear about their inspiring mission of helping all people who enter Hospicio De San Jose’s doors.

The second place we visited was St. Rita’s orphanage and school, which is the elementary school my Mom once attended! St. Rita’s provides care to orphans and children who have special needs. The children at this site had a real enduring nature about them, and were an absolute joy to be around.

Next on our list was Philippines General Oncology Ward. I had the opportunity to hang out with these resilient kids, a lot of whom spent their time doing art while receiving chemotherapy. Thus, to support them in this occupation, we provided various art supplies in addition to food.

Following this visit, we had an opportunity to check out Bahay Ni Maria, a home for grandmothers who have been abandoned. These women had a lot of wisdom to share with me about life, resiliency through struggle, and God’s providence. I learned a ton from them and the light that they shared.

Next, we visited the College of Perpetual Help, where my Aunt is the dean at the college of health sciences (which includes an occupational therapy department!) She mentioned to me that they do an outreach program at National Belibid Prison, in which they send teachers to educate the inmates. We decided to visit and donate at National Belibid Prison, and learned more about their program. They incorporate a true “rehabilitation through education model” and they are only 1 of 2 schools in the world that offer an opportunity for their well-behaved inmates to attain a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship while still serving their sentence. My aunt was telling me about what the graduates of the program have gone on to do, and how the program has decreased recidivism rates. The model that I saw here was truly inspiring, and I believe their rehabilitation through education model serves as a successful platform that other institutions can take after.

In our last couple of days, we had an opportunity to distribute slippers in the Lagunas, Pasay, and Manila rural areas. At first I was a little weary as to whether or not we would be able to distribute all these supplies, but I quickly found out just how many kids walk the streets barefoot. The gratitude expressed was truly heart felt, and the smiles on their faces were priceless. Our last stop was at San Roque Parish, a church that does outreach to a community in which 70 families had lost their homes to a fire. The sisters at this church emphasized just how far our donations would go in helping these families.

When I look back at the leadership capstone experience as a whole, all I can say is that it was truly a life changing experience that helped me grow in many ways. I’ve never felt more connected to my culture and roots, and to be able to give back at this capacity was truly a dream come true. I would like to thank my family, friends, and classmates for their generosity, and letting me be an agent of sharing their positive impact. Yes, there’s no doubt that there’s still a lot of work in the Philippines to be done; there is corruption, war, and a tremendous amount of people living in poverty. With that said, the most refreshing aspect of this experience was to witness the generosity, gratitude, and resilient nature of the Filipino people, despite the daily struggles they face. This is definitely not the last time I will be carrying out the PhilaPinas project, but I have to give big props to all the people who made this possible, and to our program for affording me the opportunity to carry out this dream. 😊

Here’s a video capturing the leadership capstone experience and some pictures documenting the PhilaPinas drive. Enjoy! 😊

Supplies at the Supermarket

Supplies at the Supermarket

Supplies donated at Bahay Ni Maria

Supplies donated at Bahay Ni Maria

Buying Flip Flops to be donated

Buying Flip Flops to be donated

Kiddos with their new slippers

Kiddos with their new slippers

Happy Kiddo in Pasay

Happy Kiddo in Pasay

Hooping with the kiddos at Hospicio de San Jose

Hooping with the kiddos at Hospicio de San Jose

In front of HDSJ

In front of HDSJ

Grandmas at Bahay Ni Maria

Grandmas at Bahay Ni Maria

Until next time,
Jonathan Rodil

Leila

¡Pura Vida! ⟩
April 13, 2015, by Leila

Externships International Videos

First off, I apologize for the lack of blog posts from me the last couple of weeks. I have been quite the busy bee with school and life ☺. Before I go on talk about the current events going on during this time of year, I want to tell you about the amazing externship opportunity I had in Costa Rica! As mentioned in impervious posts, during our final spring semester of the Master’s program we are provided the opportunity to learn and apply aspects of leadership and advocacy within a setting/site of our choice. We create the externship opportunity for ourselves and have the flexibility to decide what would provide us the most optimal learning experience. The externship experience will vary from person to person — some students decide to stay local and others decide to travel abroad. Some of my fellow classmates and student ambassadors traveled to South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, China and Ireland.

Myself, along with six other OT students were placed in a government funded daycare center in an under served community in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was unfortunate to see the center under staff and lack sufficient resources. The children there lacked the adequate educational resources they need to further develop their personal and academic selves. Nevertheless, the children were extremely sweet and excited to have us there! Our mission was to provide these children with support, interaction, compassion and care. We played games, participated in circle time, sang songs and created arts and crafts! It was heartbreaking to walk in some days, because the children really could have benefited from occupational therapy services for fine or gross motor as well as social play as Kristy (student ambassador) mentioned in her blog. Being at the daycare center was quite eye-opening, not only because of the underdeveloped, under-funded learning environment that these children were in, but the permanent smiles they shared with us despite this. It was an amazing externship experience and I would love to go back and help.

Although we were primarily in Costa Rica for our externship, we did have some time to explore and experience the Costa Rican culture. During our time, we stayed with a Costa Rican family. It was a great way to immerse ourselves in the local culture and experience the Tica (Costa Rican) way of life, practice our Spanish, indulge in traditional Tica cuisine and have a family away from home. We also got to explore the city, try zip-lining, visit the hot springs, see volcanos, hike Manual Antonio National Park, and of course, relax at the beach! Overall, I had an amazing time with a great group of friends and I feel so fortunate to have had this experience as an occupational therapy student at USC. Not only does USC’s program develop you to become and amazing OT, but also as future leader in the field! Whether you complete an international externship or not, it is what you make of the opportunity to help foster you to become the person you would like to be and live life to the fullest. With that said, there is a saying I learned in Costa Rica that I would like to continue to live by — Pura Vida. It is basically the national slogan of Costa Rica and was one of my favorite sayings there. It’s a phrase that literally means “pure life”. But in reality it’s a way of life. It’s all about taking things easy and enjoying life. I understand the hustle and bustle of the daily grind can sometimes get in the way of living life. Coming back from Costa Rica, has provided me with yet another reason to appreciate life and the meaning that my favorite occupations have for me. So, even when things get tough, take some time every day, week or month to engage in your favorite occupations. :cheese:

¡Pura Vida!

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