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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The High Price of Becoming an OT

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Hello all, and happy New Year! I’ve been out of the blogosphere for quite some time due to a series of very fortunate events in the past several months, including:

  • Graduating from OT school
  • Studying for and passing the NBCOT exam
  • Getting married to my significant other of 7 years (and counting!)
  • Going on an amazing honeymoon to sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico!
  • Applying and interviewing for various OT jobs
  • Traveling to visit family and friends
  • Accepting a position as a school-based OT for a large school system

 

As you can see, I’ve been keeping pretty busy! But I’m hoping that in the new year I will get back to blogging more regularly and keeping anyone out there who cares updated on my transition from new grad to new practitioner.

On that note, I’ve been keeping a close eye on what it has actually cost me to get to this point in my career (or rather on the cusp of my new career, which will actually start on Thursday!). I did not include the cost of my OT school tuition/fees, as this number varies widely across programs. However, I have calculated exactly what I spent as I journeyed from student to practitioner over the past several months to give current and prospective OT students a realistic assessment of what it costs to become an OT.

Although I had a vague idea of what it would cost to take the boards, apply for a license, etc. I was still blindsided by how much money I needed upfront to actually become a licensed, registered occupational therapist. In the grand scheme of things the amount below might not seem like a lot, when it comes directly out of one’s shallow grad student pockets within a couple of days, it can be quite the financial blow. In hindsight, I recommend that OT/A students who are approaching the end of their academic careers calculate exactly what they will be spending and begin saving for (or set aside) the necessary funds to cover these costs.

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*The procedure for transferring exam scores varies by state, so confirm with previous program graduates or professors to ensure you are paying for the correct service in your state.

**Students in my program receive this book as a graduation gift from program faculty. Because it is so widely used by OT students preparing for the NBCOT exam, the value of a NEW book with digital resources (CD) is included here.

 

POTENTIAL COSTS

In addition to my actual costs to take the NBCOT exam and apply for licensure in my state, I could have paid hundreds more if I had purchased additional study materials, such as:

Other possible (but easily avoidable) fees are those charged for switching exam dates ($50), arriving late or bringing the incorrect documents to the testing center ($175), or failing to take the exam within the time allotted after the issuance of the Authorization to Test Letter ($75-175).

Because I mostly used “free” resources provided by my OT program faculty and a friend’s subscription to an online study tool, my actual out-of-pocket cost for study materials for 1.5 months of studying was only $46 – and I passed the exam on the first try! Depending on the type and amount of study materials you purchase, your costs may be more or less than mine. And while I can’t tell you how much is the “right” amount to spend on study materials, I do think the rates some of these services are charging are ridiculous and borderline unethical…

I believe that most OT/A programs are graduating students who are well-prepared to take the exam, even if they might need to spend time reviewing specific interventions, developmental stages, measurements, etc. to answer some questions. While I wasn’t 100% cool, calm, and collected on the day I took the exam, I did feel confident in my clinical reasoning skills, practical knowledge, and overall ability to pass.


Ultimately, actually becoming a licensed, registered OT isn’t easy or inexpensive. I spent the bare minimum on study materials and exam costs, and still it was almost $900 when all was said and done. I’m thankful that my family was able to help me cover some of these costs and help me complete the final steps in becoming an occupational therapist, and I’m proud to say that I am now Lauren Jones, MS, OTR/L!


Update 6/12/17: If you are making the transition from student to practitioner soon, check out this post from the OT Potential website for useful tips and resources that will help you find the right OT job for you!

 

How Becoming an OT Made Me a Political Person

 

(See my previous posts about my experiences with Hill Day and ways you can advocate for OT from your couch to Capitol Hill!)

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In this season of crazy political antics, fierce debates about our nation’s future, and the approaching election, it can be difficult to understand why you as an OT student or practitioner should get involved in any sort of political activity. Trust me, I get it! After over a year of listening to politicians tearing each other apart and being forced to hear the political opinions of virtually every person I’ve come into contact with, I want to get as far away from all the madness as I possibly can. However, in my past two years as an OT student and (soon to be) new practitioner, I’ve learned that you can’t spell politics without OT.

Before OT school, I believed being a “political person” meant being a Young Democrat or College Republican, marching in protests, or volunteering at voter registration drives, for example. I generally understood politics and legislation as complex subjects that were beyond my comprehension, and had pretty much resigned myself to simply voting each year and being a passive victim of whatever happened afterward. Essentially, I believed that politics was something that existed “out there,” but not something I was able to participate in or influence.

However, after reflecting on my graduate education and professional development experiences over the past two years I realized that at some point along the way I had become a “political person.” This realization was shocking at first, but then it occurred to me that my experiences participating in formal advocacy events like AOTA’s annual Hill Day, working for my state OT association, and treating clients all represented my engagement in the political process – even though I wasn’t a lobbyist, campaign worker, or public official. It took me a while, but I now understand each of these seemingly unrelated activities as different forms of political engagement that helped deepen my awareness of occupational therapists’ role as advocates for clients, practitioners, and the profession.

Read on to find out more about how my experiences as an OT student and professional brought about this change, and how becoming “political” can make you a better clinician.

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The OT Olympics: Great Games for OT Athletes

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Summer will be over before you know it, and many OT/A programs and SOTAs across the country will be welcoming a brand new class of students into the fold! In my program, we hosted a welcome picnic for students, faculty, and family members at the start of the semester so that everybody can get to know each other. Everybody always has a great time getting to know one another in a less formal context, and I’m definitely going to miss welcoming the new class of students to campus this fall.

If you’re looking for a fun way to get to know your new classmates, try holding the OT Olympics! Basically, it’s just a fun way to learn more about the people you’ll be spending the next couple years working and learning alongside while enjoying a little healthy competition. Divide up into teams of 4-5 people, create team names, and let the games begin! Continue reading