I finally figured out how to get back on here, only took me 2 months…
But I am back and ready to put out some blogs about my last didactic semester, how I’ve been preparing for level II fieldwork, and a new series I want to start on accessibility while traveling (state parks, hiking, etc.).
Alright, 4th term. 4th term was HARD.
I took 5 classes, as usual, along with level I fieldwork, being president of SOTA, creating and presenting my ASL passion project, tutoring, trying to maintain my grades, social life, spiritual life, volunteer and get enough sleep.
The classes I took were:
- Clinical Applications in Adulthood (B+)
- Clinical Applications in Geriatrics (B+)
- Scholarly Application (A)
- OT Methods II: Orthotics, Prosthetics and Modalities (A)
- Administration and Management (A)
Throughout this entire term I was challenged so much, not just because I had so much on my plate with extracurriculars, but because the course content was genuinely hard and brought together the content from all previous terms. This term was really about applying everything we had learned in the last year and using it to improve our clinical judgment in preparation for fieldwork. We ended the term with a comprehensive practical that had all of my classmates stressed out to the max.
Here are my overall experiences in each of my classes and the tips I have for them!
Clinical Applications in Adulthood
Okay, this class was rough, we went over any condition that an adult could have. I’m sorry, let me say that again. We went over ANY condition that an adult could have…
- 3 weeks on upper extremity orthopedics
- 1 week on burns, wounds, and amputations
- 1 week on work and ergonomics
- 1 week on neurodegenerative conditions (ALS, GBS, MS, etc.)
- 2 weeks on brain injuries
- 2 weeks on spinal cord injuries
- 1 week on multi trauma and special considerations
- Every week we had a presentation on a condition/population where OT is emerging
- Women’s health, pelvic floor
- Craniotomy patients
- Back pain
As a part of this course, we were also required to complete level I fieldwork in the school’s pro bono clinic, at the local Arc, and various simulations.
I had the privilege to be in the first group of students to work in the pro bono clinic for the semester (and by privilege I mean I didn’t have a choice and I was terrified). The class was separated into groups of about 5-7 students, and we were assigned one week in the semester where we would work 2 days with real clients. Despite how terrified I was of being the first to kick off the pro bono clinic, especially without the reassuring words of other students who had experienced it before me, I had an amazing time and learned more than I thought I would.
During my time in the pro bono clinic, I performed a full 45-minute evaluation on a client and implemented an hour treatment during our next session, as well as observed an evaluation and treatment session on another client. Here are just a couple valuable things I learned:
- Even though complete recovery may be the ultimate goal, there are many goals that can be made “in the meantime” to increase independence.
- Simple things can make life more meaningful.
- Client-centered practice is the best practice.
- Therapeutic use of self can mean a world of a difference – listen and empathize with your client, let them know they are worth it and they deserve to have a quality life.
This class was hard, but staying organized and staying away from procrastination is key. I created an entire binder just for this class and printed all of my course/study material, AOTA resources, and cheat sheets for conditions, assessments and interventions. I also created an excel spreadsheet that encompassed all of this material as well as an easy go-to for studying with friends.
Also – using case studies to use clinical reasoning is the best way to study as well!!
Clinical Applications in Geriatrics
Within the material of this course, we learned more about interventions than straight-up conditions. We covered:
- Practice settings (Acute, Acute Rehab, LTAC, Sub Acute, SNF, Home Health, Outpatient, Assisted Living, and Hospice)
- Musculoskeletal System
- Motor Treatment
- CIMT and Mirror Therapy
- Feeding, Eating and Swallowing
- Perception and Praxis
- Driving and Community Mobility
- Psychosocial Issues
- Social Engagement
This class was pretty easy going because we didn’t have exams and practicals every couple of weeks, but we had a comprehensive practical at the end that was so difficult (but I passed).
We also had level I fieldwork as a part of this class which took place in the form of simulations, and 3 weeks at an assisted living facility working with clients in memory care and general population. I found this fieldwork very challenging personally because I have never had an interest in working with the older adult population. Don’t get me wrong, I love older adults and love talking to them, those settings are just not for me. I did learn some valuable lessons while I was there, however:
- Don’t start an intervention graded down too far, learn to grade as you go and provide the “just right” challenge.
- Don’t talk to older adults like they’re babies – sooo many of my classmates would immediately start using a baby voice as soon as we got near our clients, and when I spoke to one gentleman he told me how infuriating it was for him to be spoken to in such a way.
- Plan interventions so that your clients have to stand up or move around – not only will this increase arousal, you will be working on so many more client factors than if they were just seated.
My study strategies were very similar to how I studied for my adult class, binder and all.
I surprisingly enjoyed this class, it was basically a class consisting of all journal clubs. It was mostly online and every other Friday we met on campus for journal clubs. This class got me really interested in reviewing the literature and helped me learn how to critically appraise it.
OT Methods II: Orthotics, Prosthetics, and Modalities
I looooved this class. The first half of the term was spent learning modalities (cryotherapy, heat therapy, e-stim) and the second have was spent creating and learning about orthotics. I made a wrist cock-up orthotic, resting hand orthotic, thumb spica splint, and a dynamic wrist cock-up orthotic. During the course of this class I was also able to connect well with one of my professors who is a CHT (certified hand therapist) who gave me great advice, and later helped me answer some questions for a student I was tutoring.
Administration and Management
I don’t have much to say about this class honestly, it was all hard for me to grasp especially since it was all online and not easily applicable since I am not currently in the field applying these principles. I’m hoping that it will all become handy once I am actually working!
This semester I chose to tutor on-demand, meaning I was scheduled for 3 hours one day a week and if a student needed help they would come to me during those blocked off hours. I only had about 3 students the whole term, which was pretty nice because I used those hours to study, and when I did have a student I was reviewing anatomy with them which was helpful for me. Having a set schedule every week also made it more manageable for me since it was such a busy semester.
This semester I served as SOTA president and my main goals were to improve the efficiency and communication of SOTA as a whole, and to bring PT students and OT students together by collaborating more with SPTA (Student PT Association). I think our monthly meeting attendance was at an all-time high during this semester, and we definitely made progress on the goals I had set by being in constant communication and being open to new ideas. At the end of the semester SOTA and SPTA put on a PT/OT Social at a local brewery and it was a hit – one step closer to improving PT and OT relations at the university (I hope).
This semester I also presented my ASL passion project and was able to lecture on the history of ASL, laws regarding accessibility, and why therapists and other healthcare practitioners should learn ASL, and was able to teach basic ASL to a group of 25 students (plus those who watched via livestream). It was so much fun and I am so proud of actually going through with the project. I was so scared that it would fall flat, that no one would be interested, or that no one would show up to the presentation when the time came. But the group of students who did come were amazing, they listened intently, asked questions, learned some ASL and had a fun time. I’m so happy that I decided to take the project on and I’m grateful for the encouragement I had from my professors.
Overall, 4th term was a beast. It was overwhelming, it was challenging, it was emotional. But I also learned so much. I was overwhelmed with the beauty and diversity of occupational therapy, I was challenged to show up and give my all to my education and my clients, and it was emotional because I got to witness amazing progress in my clients and see first-hand the value of what we do. I’m grateful for the beast that was 4th term, for the growth and the opportunities. And as I sit in this little coffee shop in the middle of a small Georgia town preparing for my first level II fieldwork, I can’t help but feel giddy with excitement for the future of OT, and the future of my career.