Here we are, one year into my OT program, halfway done. What? That sounds impossible, yet this will be my last on-campus term and I’ll be starting my level II fieldwork in January. Speaking truthfully, this term was one of the easiest so far, though it was the first where interventions were introduced, and my clinical reasoning was tested.
Here are the 5 classes I took this term, the grades I received in them, and the link to the instagram posts with descriptions of each of the classes (does that sound familiar?):
- OT Methods 1: Assistive Technology (A)
- Clinical Applications of Occupational Therapy in Psychosocial and Community Settings (A)
- Clinical Applications of Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics and Adolescence (B)
- Wellness and Health Promotion (A)
- Scholarly Implementation and Dissemination (A)
I had class 3-4 days every week and fieldwork assignments were clumped three weeks at a time, so my fieldwork schedule changed a lot between elementary schools, campus and community centers.
This was the first term where interventions were introduced and the first term we had to actually apply the information we learned to real clients. Pediatrics and psych are pretty similar when it comes to interventions (when compared to ortho, adult and geriatrics) because a lot of it is based on group activities, behavior modification and creating healthy routines. These two populations require a lot of creativity and I really enjoyed that.
Here is a little bit about my experiences with each of the classes:
OT Methods: Assistive Technology
I really enjoyed this class because we got to experience, learn about and play with so many different devices and technologies. From low-tech paper labels to completely modified vans, we got to learn about all kinds of AT devices, how they are used and what populations they can help.
Some of the best experiences I had in this class were when we got to take field trips to various providers in our area, including a local low-vision clinic where we got to learn about various devices that aid people who have low-vision or who are blind. Before this class I had never really experienced any high-tech AT devices such as AAC, modified cars or even more simple AT.
The most rewarding aspect of this class, however, was when we were required to volunteer with an adaptive sports program in the community so that we could experience AT with leisure activities. I chose to volunteer with the local quad rugby team, and though we were only required to attend one session, I ended up volunteering with them all summer and they became some of my great friends.
Getting to experience adaptive sports, meeting new friends from all walks of life and with all kinds of back stories was so rewarding and gave me a weekly outlet/escape from school life. It didn’t hurt that I got to play with them every week as well (actually it kinda did because my shoulders were always so sore and I somehow ended up with so many bruises).
I’ll be writing a post about volunteering/my experience with adaptive sports!
Coming from a background of psychology and many personal experiences with various mental health diagnoses, I thought this class would be a breeze. I didn’t quite realize that working with this population in a professional setting would be so different! This isn’t to say that it’s impossible though, I caught on pretty quickly!
During my first fieldwork in this class I got to perform my first occupational profile and I was so nervous. But the more my client and I got to talking, the more it helped me realize that I’m just talking to another human being. Yes, I’m trying to learn more about the diagnosis and how this impacts their everyday life so it’s not a completely normal conversation, but gradually the conversation began to flow and my questioning got easier.
This was the first time I felt like I could actually do it. Not that I had ever doubted my abilities before, but this was hard proof that I was capable.
Now I had heard that this class was hard, but since I’ve worked with kids my whole life I figured it’d be a breeze. And I don’t want to say that I was completely wrong because my past experience definitely helped me, but I was definitely challenged in this class.
Most of my shadowing experiences were in pediatrics so I thought I knew what to expect, but when you’re the one actually assessing and devising intervention plans, boy that’s hard!!
Reading the textbook and listening to lectures was valuable, however, the most valuable experience I had in this class was having my own client and working with them one-on-one for three weeks (and having my professor ask probing questions and pointing me in the right direction). There are so many underlying issues that could be causing certain behaviors in kids, so having the ability to look past inappropriate behavior or stubbornness is key to providing good service that actually makes a difference.
Wellness and Health Promotion
Though I could not complain about this class more, I still think it was valuable. I thought that most of the information we learned was obvious and self-explanatory, and it was for me as someone who was raised by educated parents, went to college and is now getting a masters degree in a health profession. But for the general population, the people that I will someday be treating, those healthy habits and facts are not so obvious and self-explanatory.
This class taught me about ways to promote healthy habits and strategies for creating programs in the community for all types of populations, down to the tiny details.
Scholarly Implementation & Dissemination
I’m not gonna lie, I strongly disliked this class. Not because the professor was bad (I love her), or because it was a useless class, but because I’ve taken so many research classes in my college career and I’m not interested in doing any research anytime soon. I had no passion or interest in doing any of the work, my research topic was something that I never want to work with, and I didn’t feel like I was actually learning anything because of this.
So if you actually enjoy research and want to do research soon, then you’ll enjoy this class. But it was not for me.
This term was my first time involved with SOTA as the community service chair and I think that is really what made my term so enjoyable. I spent so much time looking for new service opportunities for the school and ended up forming so many new connections that were personally rewarding. If I wasn’t in class or studying, I was out in the community volunteering with some organization, and it opened my eyes so much to the various needs that OTs can fulfill.
Taking a leadership position at school was also very rewarding because I never had that experience in undergrad where I had 300 people in my anatomy class and 40,000+ in the entire school. Being involved on campus has led to so many connections not only in the community, but with faculty, professors and other students.
I’m not the kind of person to sit back and complain or listen to others complain, so when I had the opportunity to make a difference, I took it. This coming semester I will be the SOTA president and I know it will be a challenging semester, but I feel that I can make a huge difference on campus and for the students, so I’m going to work my hardest to balance everything I have going on.
Wrap-up and Level I Fieldwork Tips
Overall I enjoyed this semester. I got to learn so much about myself and the profession, and my client experiences were all so positive and I felt like I really gained a lot of knowledge from them. I met so many people and formed so many rewarding relationships inside and outside of school.
I’m looking forward to the challenges that I will face in my last term and eventually in my level II fieldworks, but for now I’ll leave you with these tips for level I fieldwork!
- Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept feedback from your professors – they know this is your first patient encounter and they want to help you grow as a professional.
- Plan, plan, PLAN – I cannot reiterate this enough. Having your session planned out with backup interventions is critical – especially in peds.
- Remember that your client is just another human being – don’t be afraid of interacting with them! They understand that you’re just a student and that you’re going to make mistakes (but don’t make too many mistakes haha, this is where planning comes in).
- At one point during an occupational profile I stopped because I didn’t know what to ask next and I had been so afraid of looking down at my occupational profile, so I said “I’m sorry I just have to look at my list of questions,” and my client chuckled and told me to go ahead.
- Use all the resources you can get – whether it be your professors and classmates, textbooks, blogs, social media, anything!
- The nerves WILL subside, it just takes some time.