Top 10 Etsy Finds for Occupational Therapists

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The holidays are fast approaching, and I’m here to make your gift-giving for fellow OTs easy! In true OT-addict fashion, even my personal gift-giving style just screams “occupational therapist!” I love giving fun, functional, and meaningful gifts to my friends and family, and shopping on Etsy makes it easy for me to find gifts that will make everyone on my list happy.

In case you haven’t shopped on Etsy before, the site is basically a huge online “maker marketplace” where crafters, artists, designers, and creators of all kinds set up virtual shops to sell their wares. It’s truly an amazing testament to the unlimited creativity that exists in the world, and you can get lost on the site for hours, sidetracked from your original mission by pages and pages of cool creations.

As an added bonus, Etsy makes it easy to shop local for the holidays. In addition to sorting items by price, relevance, and other categories, you can search for goods by geographic area to find local shops or gifts nearby. So now you can shop local from the comfort of your own couch!

Read on to find fun and functional gift ideas for every OT on your list!

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How to Handle Loneliness in Grad School Part 2: 13 Tips for Making Friends and Making it Through

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The first post in this mini-series dealt with my experiences with loneliness as a first year graduate student and how I eventually overcame it. It was a difficult year, and I wish I knew then all the things I know now – I would have been a much happier, more social student! In any case, I made it through my first year as an OT student, and now I have several good friends both in and outside my program who have become part of my new friend groups.

If you are struggling with feeling like you don’t fit in or you’re having a hard time making friends, I hope these tips will help! After reading this post, I hope you’ll find that making friends as a graduate student is easier than you thought.
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How to Handle Loneliness in Grad School Part 1: How I Beat the Blues

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Psychosocial health is an important element of any person’s daily functioning, and it can have a significant impact on performance in many other areas of life. Loneliness is something that everybody has probably experienced in life, and it’s something that I often struggle with whenever I have to start over in a new social setting – for example, moving to a new city and starting grad school!

 

Although I am often described as a talkative, friendly, and outgoing person, I’ve had several experiences when I’ve felt extremely socially isolated and lonely, such as my first year of college and a job as a camp counselor. Although in these settings I was surrounded by people and opportunities to make friends and have fun, I spent a lot of time alone and struggling to find people to connect with. It’s a challenge I’ve continued to have in my adult life, but it’s also something that has helped me better understand myself and how I can be most successful as I continue to move around, start new endeavors, and meet new people.

 

This post was difficult for me to write, because it really puts all of the negative feelings, anxiety, and loneliness I experienced during my first year of graduate school out there. It’s not easy admitting that I had a hard time, and maybe to most people I seemed fine. But if I’m honest, my first year in graduate school was a challenging transition that I was not prepared for. Knowing that many of my friends from undergrad were also in the same boat (living/working in a new place without many friends) and talking to them about my situation made it a little easier, but I had to learn the hard way that life in grad school is NOT the same as it is in undergrad – or at least it wasn’t for me!

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Therapeutic Use of Soap: 7 Tips for Improving Your OT Hygiene Routine

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TRUE STORY: Due to God’s wonderful sense of humor, on the same day I was writing this post I experienced a perfect example of just how fun (and by fun I mean ABSOLUTELY GROSS) it is to work with kids in any setting!


I knew when I chose this career that working in healthcare – especially as an occupational therapist – would put me in close proximity to many unsanitary situations. However, my academic and professional experiences in schools, SNFs, hospitals, and retirement communities have given me a new perspective on the importance of maintaining a hygienic therapeutic environment as an OT.

Earlier this year, a kindergartner at one of my schools had a bowel accident and came down to my room for help because the school nurse and social worker were gone. I asked him to go into the bathroom and get cleaned up while I found him some clean clothes to change into. When he was done, he opened the door and tried to hand me his heavily soiled underwear and pants. I quickly ushered him back into the bathroom, where I reminded him to flush the toilet (which he did with his hand) and helped him bag up his soiled clothes. When we were done, he tried to leave the bathroom without washing his hands. When I asked him to wash his hands, he got some soap, quickly rinsed it off, dried his hands and left. And for all I know, all the rest of my little friends are doing the exact same thing before they come to see me!

This was an extreme example of just how dirty a job as a school-based OT can be, but for many clinicians this sort of situation is a regular occurrence. And for many others, it may be an everyday occurrence that they’re just not aware of…So no matter where you work, hygiene for yourself and your clients is crucial.

Much of this information will probably come as second nature to OT practitioners working in hospital environments, as there are generally much stricter sanitation regulations than there are in other settings. But even if you work in settings where you aren’t regularly providing interventions related to toileting or other self-care tasks that might put you in direct contact with bodily fluids, good hygiene is still something you can promote in in your daily practice.

After the jump, read 6 tips that demonstrate how making changes to the person, environment, or occupation can help clean up bad hygiene habits and improve your therapy practice!

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So You Didn’t Get Into OT School…Now What?

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Not that long ago, you were busy getting observation hours, requesting letters of recommendation, navigating OTCAS, and submitting all your OT school applications. You had grand plans to move to a new town, start grad school, and prepare to join this profession you spent so much time reading, thinking, and learning about! So when you opened your inbox to an unexpected “We regret to inform you…” or “Welcome to the waitlist” email, you probably felt frustrated…disappointed…angry…maybe even heartbroken.

For the next few months, you’re stuck somewhere between hopeless and hanging on – waiting to hear whether you’re off the waitlist, watching other people get their acceptances, wondering whether you’ll ever get your chance. Although I got into OT school on my first try, I had a previous experience with investing a lot of time and energy into an application for a program I was desperate to get into…and then getting rejected. So I know how it feels, and if you’ve had this experience my heart goes out to you!

After getting rejected from that program several years ago, I spent a few days crying and wallowing. And then I picked myself up and tried again. My rejection from that program actually turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise; when I was accepted into a similar program the next year, it ended changing my life, introducing me to people who are some of my best friends today, and giving me opportunities to go places and do things I would never have been able to do otherwise! Life always has a way of working out, and once you get over the initial sting of rejection you will find a way to carry on.

Although it’s disappointing to learn that you are on the waitlist or you weren’t accepted at your chosen school(s), the tips below can help you make the most of this opportunity to strengthen your application and prepare yourself for the next application cycle.

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Taking OT to South Korea: My Journey to Become a 2018 Winter Olympics Volunteer

Send Lauren to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics!

Check out my Fund My Travel page for updates, information, and to donate!

As an occupational therapist, I help individuals of all ages increase their independence, engage in meaningful activity, and achieve their personal goals. In addition to being a dedicated healthcare professional, I am an avid traveler. I’ve been to places all over the United States, Puerto Rico, and even Nicaragua! However, I’ve never had the opportunity to travel to the eastern part of the world and experience the culture, language, and opportunities that exist there. Between working, spending time with family, and volunteering in multiple organizations, it’s been difficult to find time to travel. But I’m always on the lookout for great opportunities to serve and explore the world!

Several years ago, I was watching the Olympic Games and wondering how such a large-scale, high-stakes international event was organized every couple of years. After doing a little research, I learned that Olympics volunteers were a huge part of the equation, and that thousands of people from all over the world were selected as support staff for each Olympics event!

Then my wheels began to turn…and it all made perfect sense! Healthcare professional + Avid traveler = Olympics volunteer! As soon as the 2018 Winter Olympics volunteer application opened in July 2016, I entered my information and buckled down for the long wait.

Click below to learn more about my journey to becoming a 2018 Winter Olympics volunteer, and how you can help send me to South Korea!

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Turning Energy into Action: 6 Tips for Maintaining Momentum after an OT Conference

 

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I’ve been fortunate enough to attend AOTA’s Annual Conference for four years in a row now, and this year’s Centennial (#AOTA17) was my first year attending as an official OT practitioner! There were about 13,000 attendees in Philadelphia this year, and it was truly an amazing experience. I was able to present an AOTA-sponsored session with my Emerging Leaders mentor, deepen friendships with my Emerging Leader cohort, develop skills in my new practice area, and learn about cool things happening in the world of OT. I had a great time and I was sad to finally leave Philly, although I was SO ready to sleep in my own bed again! Still, in the week that I’ve been home, I’ve been making an effort to keep all of the OT energy from Conference going strong!

 

By this time all the Conference attendees have headed home and everybody has likely settled back into their daily grind. And while you may not be attending any fun educational sessions, dance parties, or networking events in the near future, there are several ways you can continue making the most of your conference experience even after you’ve returned home.

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