OT Chronicles Chapter 6: Week 1

OT Chronicles Chapter 6: Week 1

Our first full week was way more overwhelming than our half-week, rightfully so.  We had three more “1st days” which is probably why I’m feeling a little more overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done.  However, I am continually reminding myself to take it one day at a time.

One highlight of the week included having our first SOTA meeting where we discussed upcoming conferences, volunteer opportunities, fundraising ideas, and elections.  I decided to run for a position but I wasn’t elected.  The election did not include speeches or even introductions; therefore, most votes were based on first-impressions or a game of eenie-meenie-minnie-moe.  I’m ok honestly with not being elected.  I started this blog without being elected with the full intention of advocating for the OT field.  I will advocate on this blog, my social media pages, and to anyone that wants to listen to me talk about what I learned in class so far.  Here, I can voice my opinion on my own time, in my own way, and with intrinsic purpose to self-reflect and teach others.

This week I also attended an adult autism support group where I interacted and played board games with the attendees.  It was a very relaxed environment and I know that the individuals enjoyed seeing a new face in their group.  I plan on trying to volunteer at the support group 1-2 times per month because I know how much they enjoyed having new people to play board games with!

This week we were assigned an activity log in which we have to record every activity we do in a day and how much time we spend doing it.  We then categorize each activity into one of the eight occupations listed on The Framework.  Once they are categorized, we have to make a pie chart.  A lot of my time (obviously) is spent doing educational occupations.  This has been a tedious assignment but it’s helped me become more familiar with The Framework.

Also noteworthy is that our professors have forced us to change where we are sitting every class and who we are sitting next to.  They’re teaching us not to get comfortable all the time with routine and to get to know our classmates better.  I was a little hesitant at first because I liked sitting on the left side of the classroom, but after moving to the other side/middle, I’m ok with it!

We also had two guest speakers who worked at a community-based mental health organization nearby to the university.  We participated in a “Hearing Voices” activity for about one hour to gain a better understanding of what individuals with schizophrenia experience on a day to day basis.

For an hour, we all wore earbuds and listened to an audio recording of voices that individuals with schizophrenia have heard themselves.  The guest speakers rotated the class through three distinct activities – an individual 10-question test on a packet of information we were given on hurricane preparedness, a 20 minute game of Scrabble with four classmates, and an interactive task with someone on campus.

This experience resulted in empathy and a better understanding of what individuals with schizophrenia experience daily.  It was very eye-opening for me because it can be very hard to relate to someone who experiences auditory hallucinations.  This activity provided me with a hands-on learning opportunity to gain insight on how difficult it can be for individuals with schizophrenia to socially interact or complete necessary tasks on a day to day basis.  A few days later, I spent at least a half hour teaching Josh all about schizophrenia to bring better awareness and understanding of the disorder.  (If anyone is interested in learning more about “Hearing Voices” please reach out to me!)

This weekend I have been overwhelmed by readings to prepare for next week’s classes.  I have tried to find occupational balance by taking mental/social breaks.  I went for a bike ride today because I wanted to spend 30 minutes outside on a beautiful day.  I set aside time at the end of my day to write this blog.

Tomorrow I plan on going through the remainder of a Powerpoint recording I need to finish for Monday’s class, reading more for Monday’s Group Process class, going for a run/bike in the morning, and finishing all supplemental material for the beginning of the week.

My Friday & Saturday nights aren’t going to be very exciting for the next few weeks but I’m ok with that.  This aspiration of mine requires a lot of sacrifice, persistence, and determination and I’m fully committed to succeeding.  I’m living my dream.

 

OT Chronicles Chapter 1: What is OT?

OT Chronicles Chapter 1: What is OT?

As I am patiently waiting for grad school to start in September, I have decided to document my occupational therapy (OT) journey.  By doing so, I hope to help anyone looking into OT as a career.  I am starting “OT Chronicles” in the midst of Occupational Therapy Month (April) to advocate for the field of OT and to share my experiences with potential future OT professionals.

Disclaimer:  Let it be known that “OT Chronicles” is meant to enlighten and share my current knowledge of the OT profession.  Not every question regarding OT will be answered within these posts; however, I hope to enlighten whomever reads them to advocate for and teach others about this wonderful profession!  Let’s begin with the basics!

What is Occupational Therapy?

Without quoting any direct sources, occupational therapy is branch of therapy that aims to assist individuals of all ages engage in activities (occupations) that they both want and need to engage in.  Such occupations can be functional-based for successful living (i.e. showering, cooking, working, cleaning, caring for others, medication management, etc) or recreational (engaging in games/sports, age-based socialization skills, gardening, etc).  Occupational therapy is a goal-oriented career field that helps individuals adapt to their environments so that they can accomplish what they need to do and what they want to do.

Who do OTs provide therapy to?

OTs work with populations throughout the entire lifespan.  Children, adults, and the geriatric population can all benefit from OT when a therapy need arises.

Where do OTs work?

You can find OTs working in early intervention programs (children birth to 3 years old), schools, in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation centers, senior living communities, skilled nursing facilities, or hospitals.  OTs can also provide home health services.  OTs can also have a career as a traveling therapist which provides an opportunity to continuously work in a variety of environments.  The occupational therapy field provides a broad array of settings allowing for a variety of skill sets, environment preferences, and population preferences.

OT through the Lifespan:

Children with developmental disorders, behavioral issues, or cognitives or physical delays oftentimes work with occupational therapists through early intervention or in a school environment.  OTs working with children typically focus on fine and gross motor skills, communication skills, self-care, and learning how to play/interact with others.

OTs work with adults who have experienced severe injuries, who are recovering from surgery, and who have chronic diseases, mental or physical disabilities, eating disorders, the list is lengthy.  OTs working with adults typically focus on activities of daily living (ADLs) skills, return-to-work skills (when applicable), social skills, engaging in individualized meaningful activities, and the use of adaptive skills for safe and effective occupations.

OTs who work with the geriatric population typically work with individuals who have experienced severe injuries, who are recovering from surgery, who have chronic diseases or physical disabilities, or who are experiencing cognitive/memory loss.  OTs working with geriatrics focus on accomplishing ADLS, maintaining or improving levels of independence, engaging in self-care, maintaining cognitive abilities and memory, and engaging in meaningful activities important to the individual.

Why choose OT as a career?

Everyone has a different reason they decided to become an occupational therapist.  I’m not going to share all of those different reasons with you today; however, I will share with you my reason for pursuing OT.  I hosted a balance workshop during my short stint at a fitness center.  I began researching creative exercises for improving balance and I came across several videos involving OTs. BAM!  The field of occupational therapy was nearly jumping out of the computer screen at me!

At the time of this balance workshop, I was feeling shorted for a dead-end career path.  I knew I needed something more.  After researching the field of OT, I discovered how much OT matched with my functional approach to exercises, my desire for a career with endless opportunities for compassion, and my personal ambition to make a difference in the lives of individuals I interact with.  Occupational therapy seemed like a perfect match for me.

So, with that being said, I resigned from my job at the fitness center and put all of my energy towards learning more about OT, applying to grad school, and pursuing the field of occupational therapy.

Here I am now, 5 months away from starting grad school.  I’ve written my 1st ever blog post for “OT Chronicles” & hopefully I’ve enlightened the people who thought that occupational therapists just help people find jobs.  Wrong, very wrong….. stay tuned for more chapters of “OT Chronicles”!