Tag Archives: occupational therapy

BadgeBlooms: A Fun Way to Celebrate the First Day of Spring!

OT BadgeBloom

Isn’t my OT BadgeBloom beautiful? I love it! Mine is fun and floral, but they come in all kinds of styles, shapes, and patterns!

Happy first day of spring! Although apparently it’s snowing in some places on the East Coast and it’s not all that warm where I am, I’m glad that nicer weather is finally on the way after Snowpocalypse 2015.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while (like since Christmas), but I’m just now finding a minute to sit down and post about something cool I discovered around the holidays!

Last Christmas I was looking for a nice, inexpensive gift for my friend who is in speech-language pathology school, and I really only believe in spending money on gifts that are going to be functional for their recipients. Clearly I was destined to be an OT from the day I was old enough to start getting other people gifts, LOL. Anyway, I wanted to get something that would be useful to her in her academic and professional life, that she would like, and that was fairly inexpensive. And after a little bit of sleuthing to find good gifts for graduate students, I happened to find the BadgeBlooms shop on Etsy!

Badgeblooms is a business owned by a woman in Chicago who designs fun ID badge holders & reels for healthcare workers and other personnel. She has them in all shapes, sizes, themes, and colors, and they can even be customized for people who work in a particular profession (like my custom OT badge in the picture above).

As most healthcare employees are required to do, I have to wear my ID badge when I’m on fieldwork seeing clients and interacting with families so that I can be easily identified as a person who belongs. Unfortunately, as an occupational therapy student working in settings alongside a variety of other professionals, I have often been mistaken for a nurse, PT, and even the parent of a client! Although nobody meant any harm when making these honest mistakes, I wanted to do something to be more proactive about letting people know who I was and why I was in the room or working with their child. Having a customized “OT” BadgeBloom has been a great talking point and has spared me some confusion when working with people in busy settings alongside multiple other professionals.

The benefits of Badgeblooms are many:

  • Inexpensive ($7-15, for most styles)
  • Customizable
  • Durable
  • Allow you to identify and distinguish yourself from other professionals who interact with a client
  • Cute, fun, and a great way to promote your profession in the workplace
  • Support a small business owner

If you’re concerned that BadgeBlooms are too pretty to be tough, have no fear! I try to take care of my things, but between me running after kids in the clinic, chasing down the bus, throwing it in my junky bookbag, and losing it in my bedroom, my BadgeBloom hasn’t always been well-treated. However, it is sturdy and has held up very well for the past few months.

So if you’re in the market for a fun, functional gift for a friend, family member, coworker, new occupational therapy/healthcare student :D, or yourself, a BadgeBloom might be just what you’re looking for! They also come pre-packaged in a cute little box when you buy them, so you can just ship it straight to its recipient without even worrying about gift wrap! Additionally, if you like the BadgeBlooms Facebook page you can get a discount on your purchase!

Check out the Etsy shop – and its hundreds of options – and good luck making a decision about which one to get!


Disclosure: I was not compensated by BadgeBlooms for this post. I just really like my lovely ID badge holder and supporting small business owners!

Using Your Occupational Therapy “Elevator Speech” to Effectively ELEVATE Understanding of the Profession!

Note: Be ready to give a quality occupational therapy elevator speech during any upcoming OT school interviews you have! It’s a common question, and one you should definitely be prepared to answer!

This was my first try at writing down my OT elevator speech from my first day of OT school! I just hope it sounds better than it looks here!

This was my first try at writing down my OT elevator speech on my first day of OT school! I just hope it sounds better than it looks here…

 

Whether you like it or not, occupational therapy is a profession that currently – and I hope to be one of the profession’s movers and shakers that will change this in a few years!! – requires some sort of explanation to most laypersons because they don’t actually know what it is. This presents a challenge for multiple reasons:

  • You begin to fear attending social events because inevitably you’ll have to explain just what exactly it is that you’re in school for
  • You’re tired of virtually every person to whom you mention the term “occupational therapy” just nodding and pretending they’ve heard of it
  • Everyone thinks you either just help kids with their handwriting or just provide reachers to elderly people

On the very first day of OT school, we had to write a one minute “elevator speech” to describe our profession to a person we might encounter in passing. It seems like a simple enough exercise, but trying to cram all of the important, wonderful, and relevant things about occupational therapy into a one-minute blurb is almost impossible – just try it!

It was a difficult exercise, and after we shared some of our speeches with the class things got even more confusing. Should you mention OT’s role in mental health? What about the work occupational therapists do in specialty areas like hand therapy? How does one explain that it’s not “just like PT, but for your upper body?”

Whether I’ve been at more formal events like Hill Day or casual family get-togethers, I’ve been asked to explain just what it is that I’m going to do when I get out of school. And the only thing that remains the same each time I’m asked is that the answer I give is different! Having a basic elevator speech prepared is a great idea because not only can you provide a quick response in a situation where you only have a short time to educate somebody about what you do, but it is also a great way to elevate a listener’s understanding of the profession!

(Hence the term ELEVATOR speech! Not really. But that is genius, right? :D)

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WTF!

(As in, What the Fieldwork!)

Ball Pit

Pediatric therapy fieldwork is just like this ball pit. It’s all fun and games at first, but you have to beware of the hidden dangers!

So my second round of Level I fieldwork began at 7:45 AM today, and it was a whirlwind of an experience! I was at a large research hospital’s outpatient pediatric clinic, and I probably saw about 7-8 kids today. For my spring Level I rotation, my program has me in two different sites for 10 weeks total, with myself and a classmate/partner spending five weeks at each site. Until March, I will be spending one day per week at this first pediatric site, and after spring break I will be at a new site with a new partner. The “partnering” and “50/50” fieldwork is new to my program, but I enjoyed having another person to talk to and bounce ideas off of today as I observed the therapists and engaged with the kids.

While my CI “Jay” was a friendly, experienced therapist who had been practicing for 10+ years, a lot of the things I saw in her practice and the setting in general were somewhat disconcerting and at times discouraging to me as a budding OT. However, because I believe in having a strengths-based approach to life and other pursuits, I’m going to start with what I liked about working with Jay and my classmate “Lily” at the site!

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VideOT: The Many Faces of Occupational Therapists

This VideOT pick is another awesome creation by The University of British Columbia’s Master of Occupational Therapy program. In the video, UBC’s MOT class of 2014 “takes you on a tour of six common health care facilities to illustrate what OTs do.”

I love this video because it’s a short, sweet way to explain to people who are unfamiliar with the profession the wide range of places occupational therapists work and the multiple populations they serve. The video includes a wide range of clients, from a premature infant in a hospital NICU to an elderly man living in a long-term care facility. In the video, the narrators give a brief description of where each OT works, the services they provide for the client, and WHY these services are important. Having all three components in the video is crucial because it lets viewers know not only where OTs can work, but also the kinds of services they provide and the reasons why the OT’s services matter. I think it does a great job of demonstrating OT’s distinct value as a profession that helps people of all ages and stages engage in the occupations that are most important and meaningful to them.

The video also shows the importance of professional collaboration in at least one situation. In the segment about the girl who is having difficulty paying attention in school, the OT is shown communicating with the child’s teacher to make changes and adaptations for her continued success in the classroom. This demonstrates another important aspect of an OT’s job – working with a client’s family, teachers, and employers to help them live life more successfully.

I’m definitely adding a link to this video to my “About Occupational Therapy” page, and I encourage you to share it with others as well!

Time for Task Analysis!

Lego Blocks

This photo is from my class on pediatric assessment and intervention. The Coke, coffee, and colorful blocks pretty much sum up the OT graduate school experience.

My second semester of OT school started earlier this week, and I had an awesome first day of school! The spring semester is going to be all about pediatrics (ages birth to 21), and I’m really excited to begin learning about the many facets of pediatric practice, from assessment and goal writing to intervention planning and outcome measurement. As I’ve been learning, the process of using clinical reasoning, medical knowledge, client interviews, and activity grading to provide quality therapy is pretty complex, and it changes with every client. I can’t wait to learn more about how to do all of these things, and begin doing many of them myself during my second semester of Level I Fieldwork!

On my first day back in class, we were introduced to the courses that we’ll be taking over the next several months. I like the way that my program is going to be teaching the courses, because all of the information we’ll be learning is linked to the information from our other classes. For example, one of my classes is a life course perspective on child development and behavior. In that class, we will be learning about how the time, place, and situation into which a child is born can impact their development, health, and well-being. Another course is about health and disabilities, and I’ll be learning more in-depth about specific diagnoses and conditions that my future clients may have. In that same course, we’ll also be learning about how parents, families, and individuals respond to receiving difficult diagnoses about their child, which is really important because with every person an OT provides services to, he or she is also involved with his or her family, significant others, and caregivers as well. In another course, we will be learning the practical skills that we will need as clinicians, such as client interviewing, task analysis, and intervention planning skills. All of these courses fit together nicely and draw upon each other. For example, at the same time I am learning how a child with cerebral palsy might develop and behave, I will be learning how to discuss the child’s strengths and potential challenges with a family and develop an intervention plan that will take the family’s wishes and the child’s diagnosis, prognosis, and abilities into account. Cool, right? 😀

The picture in this post is from the class in which we are learning how to use task analysis and clinical reasoning skills to develop interventions. Task analysis is a term that refers to the process by which an OT takes an occupation or activity and breaks it down to understand the physical, cognitive, social, and other processes that the activity generally requires, and it is crucial to OT practice. In class, we were able to practice task analysis when our professor broke us into small groups and gave each of us a toy or game to play with. My group got the Lego Duplo blocks in the picture, and other groups got Play-Doh, Chutes and Ladders, and Mancala, to name a few. We were instructed to play with the toys first, and then we had to break down the activity and use task analysis to understand more about what a child who was playing with the Lego Duplo blocks might be required to do and thus might have difficulty doing (depending on their reason for being in OT). We went through a long list of possibilities, and had to discuss the social, physical, emotional, cognitive, and other aspects of the task. After our analysis, we were asked to develop a few activities we would do with a young client and the blocks to work on various skills.

For example, my group decided that the blocks required several physical skills (among others), such as reaching, grasping, pushing, pulling, and remaining upright/stable enough to play with the blocks on a tabletop. For a 4-year-old child with cerebral palsy, we might use the blocks to work on fine motor skills like grasping or gross motor skills like reaching for objects. And while the blocks might serve as a great starting point for therapy, eventually the occupational therapist might begin to incorporate more “functional” activity into therapy sessions once the child’s fine and gross motor skills improved. She might replace the blocks with eating utensils or clothing fasteners once the child’s fine motor skills were significantly developed. OR, if playing successfully with blocks was the family’s goal, the OT might not graduate the child to these additional objects!

And therein lies the beauty of the profession – the relationship you have with the client and family, as well as your clinical judgment and professional knowledge, guide your practice every day. I could be working with two children of the same age, same diagnosis, and same home setup and family structures, but the treatment I would provide to each child could be completely different. Although I’m just starting out, I hope to keep in mind the lessons about being client- and family-centered and creative that I’m learning now in my future practice!

Home is Where the Hurt Is

falls-in-elderly

It’s not yet “officially” winter, but I am officially on winter break! I took my last final one week ago, and I’ve been at home relaxing and enjoying a break from the intense grad school life ever since then. I’ve had time to visit family, hang out with friends, and just have some time to myself, all of which are much-needed after a long, busy semester. I’m definitely trying not to worry too much about what will be happening in 2015, although I am patiently waiting to find out more about my first Fieldwork II placement – I requested a placement in a large VA hospital, so that I will have the chance to work with veterans for the first time, and I’m hoping I’ll get it! But wherever I end up, I’m sure it’ll be a great learning experience!

Anyway, while I was at home talking with my grandmother yesterday, I had a worrisome conversation with a neighbor that put a focus on the needs of our aging population and how OT might be able to help meet these needs.

Note: As I was writing this blog post, it kind of ended up sounding something like an occupational therapy evaluation note. I didn’t mean for this to happen, but I kept writing and left it that way because I think it’s good practice for me and it provides a glimpse of what OT documentation looks like when written by a grad student with one semester of OT school under her belt (although there are plenty of great documentation examples from REAL OT’s out there!) Continue reading

A Scary Task: Creating a “Non-scary” Definition of OT for a Child!

OT Pumpkin 2 Glow

Want to know what the scariest part of my Halloween was this year?   Having to explain occupational therapy to a 10-year-old girl! (Photo Credit: “OT Pumpkin” photo from the Miss Awesomeness blog archives.)

So it was Halloween this weekend and I went trick or treating for the first time since I was in middle school! I wasn’t actually physically going up to the doors and getting candy, but I was out in costume with a bunch of elementary schoolers and family friends, so I’m counting it. I was also forced to go into a haunted house by a group of 9 and 10 year old girls, which was a poor choice on their part, as I’ve been known to cry while waiting in line for haunted houses before…soooo yeah. That went about as poorly as I expected it would, with me screaming louder than the children and generally making a fool of myself as I do whenever I get dragged into a haunted house!

Anyway, before we all went out to collect candy, there was a potluck event at a house in the neighborhood. I was sitting at a table and chatting with several fourth grade girls when one of them asked me how old I was. I look quite young (and I AM quite young), so she was surprised when I told her I was in graduate school. She then asked what I was studying and I said “Occupational therapy!”

…at which point she tilted her head, screwed up her face and said, “What is THAT?”

And at this moment, faced by a curious 10-year-old and unsure of what to say, I found myself in my toughest “explanation of occupational therapy” scenario yet! Whereas adults or other people might be able to listen and understand my one-minute elevator speech describing the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” of occupational therapy, I figured this child was going to give me about 25 seconds of her attention at most. So after a moment of panic and hesitation – I didn’t want to be responsible for misinforming any little future OT’s – I basically explained what OTs do when they work with children in schools, as I figured this example would be most relevant to her.

I explained to her that an occupational therapist might help a kid who had trouble writing, behaving appropriately in class, socializing, making friends and managing his or her emotions become better at all of these things and thereby perform and fit in better at school. A couple moments passed and I wasn’t sure if what I’d said made any sense to her, but her answer was reassuring and actually quite funny!

After I finished explaining, she immediately replied, “Oh, I know somebody at school who could DEFINITELY use that!” And then she and her friends started giggling as they tried to decide whether or not it they should speak the name of their “socially challenged” classmate who was apparently in need of some occupational therapy!

After this weekend, I’ve learned that while it can often be difficult to explain OT to adults, it seems like it is challenging to explain it to children as well! Of course, in many cases it is probably not necessary for a young child to understand what it is – as long as they are benefiting from it and their parents are aware that it’s not the same thing as PT, lol. However, when working with older children who should be included in making goals and discussing progress (as it is possible given their situation), I think it is imperative that they know what kind of professional they are seeing and what occupational therapy can do (or is doing) for them. Not only is this understanding important so that the client can bring helpful treatment ideas and information to the therapeutic relationship, but it can be a way to help promote knowledge of occupational therapy’s value and utility.

For example, a child who understands that an occupational therapist is working with him in order to help him be more independent or do activities he enjoys could inform the therapist of things he struggles with or things he would like to do but can’t figure out how. On the other hand, I think that a child who never knew what the reason was for going to the colorful office and seeing the therapist each week might be less likely to identify challenges and help make goals, participate actively or be motivated to participate in therapy activities. Of course, this is not always the case and many children just love going to therapy whether or not they know what it is. I just think that whenever the therapist is able, he or she should at least make a small effort to let their clients know what it is they actually do!

In all honesty, I have no idea what occupational therapists tell the children they work with or even if they feel like a child’s knowledge of OT – even at a very basic “OTs help people do things they want to do” level – or lack of knowledge truly impacts their interventions in any way. And again, with younger children I don’t think that there is necessarily a need for this. However, since my “scary” Halloween Q&A session with the little trick-or-treater I’ll be wondering whether this kind of information could help in future therapeutic relationships of mine!