University of Southern California
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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OS/OT Student Blog


Aloha ‘Oe, Until We Meet Again →

Sep 12, 2014, by Jonathan · Leave a comment

Over the Summer, I was fortunate enough to receive an opportunity to do my level II fieldwork (3 month full time internship) at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. The experience was nothing short of epic; Hawaii is an amazing place with so much untarnished beauty, friendly people, great food, and amazing surf! I was afforded an opportunity to immerse myself within an occupational therapy physical disabilities setting, where I was able to improve my skills as a future clinician. It was an extremely rewarding experience working with the heroes who have served our country, who shared with me so much wisdom, knowledge, and gratitude as I got to know/work with them in therapy. In addition, I was welcomed in like family by the rehab team at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, who made me part of their Ohana from day one.

I’ve been told many times that the culture infused at the workplace will ultimately make the work place, and I can honestly say that at the Honolulu VA, they’ve established the right culture and have found the winning formula: Give aloha, receive aloha. If you can show people that you care, that you believe in them, and that your efforts are fueled by your passion, it really is incredible what can happen.

OBT with the OT team
Here I am with the awesome OT team, presenting my final project: The Occupation Based Toolkit - Helping People Reach their Goals through Meaningful Activity.

Surfing at Rockpiles
Surf’s up!

Grubbin at Lanikai
Chillin’ and grubbin’ on some Poke at Lanikai beach

Jump off of the Rock at Waimea
Waimea jump off of “The Rock”

Floating Lantern Festival
“Many rivers, one ocean.” The Hawaii Floating Lantern Festival brings together people to honor loved ones who have passed, including the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country.

With that said, I definitely miss Hawaii, my vets, my rehab Ohana, and the friends that I made over there, but it does give me plenty of great reasons to visit again soon! Who knows, I may even even call it home one day wink

Aloha for now,


Sharing is Caring →

Sep 8, 2014, by Leila · Leave a comment

How quickly the time is going, we are already in our 3rd week of classes! I’m starting to adjust being a student again and now taking on the role as a student ambassador.

We just had our White Coat Ceremony for the class of 2016 and the event was a success!  It was great to be part of the event and see all the wonderful new faces of our OT program with their white coats on.
Fortunately, I get to work with amazing people. With more school events to come, I look forward to the adventures we will have!
My fellow student ambassador Claire and I work together and within the first week of school/work we were already swapping shoes! She needed some closed-toe shoes and luckily I was wearing some. Regardless of our 1 size shoe difference, we managed to make it work. That is what fellow student ambassadors are for!



Balancing School and Occupations →

Sep 8, 2014, by Kristy · Leave a comment

As I get back into the swing of things with my classes and being at school each day, it is easy to lose sight of the things that mean most to us - our occupations! While being a student certainly is a meaningful activity for me, it is not the only one!  It already is proving to be a challenge for me to continue to engage in my favorite occupations such as hiking, baking, playing with my dogs, hanging out with friends, watching movies, and exercising.  Our occupations can have an impact on our health and well-being in our daily lives as well as how we feel physically, emotionally, or socially.  Therefore, it is very important to be able to self-reflect on what makes us happy or satisfied each day.  I know that if I do not take time to spend with my dogs each day, I feel unsatisfied with my day, that is why each morning before I leave for school and each evening we go for long walks; this is not optional for me, it is something of importance that keeps me going, so I have learned to prioritize my time, and it kills two birds with one stone - spending time with my dogs and exercising!  Time is a balancing act, we never feel as if we have enough time, although really it is all about how we perceive our time and how well we use our time.  Time management as a student is extremely important.  I have learned this over the years, and while I feel I manage my time well, I never understood the importance of continuing to engage in occupations until I started the OT program last summer.  It pays to pay attention in school, don’t just sit by and learn about how we can help others engage in their occupations, help yourself!  Do not let yourself forget what means most to you!  Yes being a student is important, but taking care of yourself is necessary as well.  I encourage you all to make it a point this week to engage in activities that are meaningful to you!


White coats, scantrons, and football, oh my! →

Sep 5, 2014, by Claire · Leave a comment

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!


Building Rapport →

Sep 3, 2014, by Leila · Leave a comment

My first Level II fieldwork was an amazing journey. I interned at the VA in Long Beach within the Community Living Center MWF’s and the mTBI clinic TTH’s. That means I had two amazing CI’s and I learned from two different settings.  The VA Long Beach Healthcare System is one of the most diversified health care systems. They are active in both research and education, partnering with universities and education centers across Southern California to train a new generation of health care leaders. Fortunately, I was part of the new generation of health care leaders they trained!
Upon starting my first week of fieldwork I was a nervous wreck. I thought to myself…I’m not ready.  Will I remember everything from my adult rehabilitation course? How will I be as an OT? Will my CI like me? Will the patients like me? Those were just a few of the questions that ran through my head. That Monday morning came by quick after a week of finishing up spring semester.  I got up at 4:30am, performed my ADL’s wink, and headed out to Long Beach. I live in Chino, which is a 42-mile commute to Long Beach one-way. I didn’t want to be late on my first day so I made sure I left my house no later than 5:45am.  Of course I arrived 1 hr early! Better safe than sorry. First week was filled with introductions, orientations, getting familiar with the setting and observations. I observed my first evaluation within the first week, and by the following 2 weeks I was already attempting my evaluation skills! One thing I realized the first day at the VA was how welcoming everyone was. That put me at ease and really set the tone for how my experience was going to be like for the weeks to come. Fortunately, I have nothing but great things to share about my experience at the VA in Long Beach. Of course I can share about how much I learned, the overall OT practice there, the assessments they used, documentation skills I acquired, etc. But…I would have to say the most important skill set I had the opportunity to demonstrate was building rapport. 

I had such an amazing time working with my patients, but there were times where I thought I had no idea what I was doing.
Times that were challenging.
Times that were mentally/physically exhausting.
Times that were rewarding.

Upon my last week, one veteran wrote this to me:

“ You are one of the few people who have made a big improvement in my life in a short period of time since I have returned home from overseas. You are going to make a great OT and I believe you are going to be a blessing to many people in the future.
… Who you are, and your heart, is going to be your strength and best tool in your chosen occupation. ‘People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ ”

This is building rapport. :’)


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