OT Fieldwork: Rotation #2

If you’ve been following this little blog for a while, you know that I’ve been finishing up grad school (for occupational therapy) with my clinical rotations, which are 3 months each. My first rotation was in Florida, and I’m 4 weeks in to my second rotation here in North Carolina. I wanted to give you all an update on how my second rotation is going!

fieldwork update april

I was extremely excited for this particular rotation, because the setting is Outpatient Hand Therapy, a specialized subset of occupational therapy. I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that hand therapy is my dream career, though I wanted to wait until I spend 12 hardcore weeks in it to be sure. And I love it so far, you guys! It’s challenging and overwhelming and frustrating and wonderful, all at the same time.

Basically, my experience is like riding a joyful/anxiety-filled roller coaster. Some days I feel like, “yes, I’m really getting this!” Other days I feel completely incompetent. It’s stressful most of the time, because I go in without knowing exactly what to do or where to put my hands or how to make small talk with people. And sometimes we have to work patients in and I have to do something that I wasn’t expecting to have to do that day. I won’t lie to you, it has been a great challenge so far, mentally and emotionally (and a little bit physically–I am not used to sitting all day anymore!). But it’s so fascinating and motivating; I feel like I’m learning so much and really enjoying the setting. It just feels right, even though my confidence is fairly low and I have SO MUCH more to learn.

All in all, it seems to be going okay-ish. (: Thanks for letting me geek out about my second rotation today!

xo

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OT Fieldwork: Halfway There

Well, this week marks the 7th week of my first occupational therapy Fieldwork II experience. The weeks have been flying by, I can’t believe I’m halfway done with this rotation! A while back, I shared some of my first thoughts about the experience (you can read that post here). I figured that I should probably give an update on how everything has been going for me at this point, so here goes!

OT Fieldwork Update via Imperfect Chevron

Overall, I’d have to say things are going ok. I’m still pretty much uneasy most of the time, though I’m taking on more challenges each week and seem to be handling it all right. I’m treating a full caseload now (with support from my supervisor) and leading most of the evaluations. I’ve even treated two patients concurrently (at the same time), which is difficult! Once the day gets started, it tends to go pretty quickly–it’s very busy.

To be honest, most of the fieldwork blog posts or articles I’ve read out there have made me feel kind of lousy–either those students are magical unicorns who are just very confident, or they’re lying through their teeth (aka, faking it until you make it). The posts are all very upbeat and give advice like “take a notebook everywhere with you” and “impress your supervisor with a good attitude,” and while I wholeheartedly agree with the advice, I haven’t found Fieldwork to be all sunshine and giggles.

The honest truth is this: Fieldwork is hard. Every day I wake up with a sense of anxiety; what am I going to do with this patient today for 90 minutes? What if I have a really challenging evaluation? When I get there each morning, I try to pretend that I’m really calm and ready for the day when I’m mostly worried on the inside. Every day brings new challenges and new opportunities to learn. When I get home each night, I get a small feeling of relief that I have, indeed, survived another day. That relief lasts about an hour, when I realize I need to start planning for the next day as much as I can (most of my planning goes by the wayside the next day, as every patient is different each day and you just never know what they’re going to be capable of from one day to the next). It’s a totally different type of stress than school was, and while I’m so thankful for the opportunity and know that I’m learning so much, it’s not easy. I’m very fortunate, I have an amazingly patient and calm supervisor that is there to support me and guide me, and she offers helpful advice and critique that improves my practice.

Anyway, I’m rambling a lot. I just feel like it’s ok to share how I’m really feeling at the halfway point in my experience, and I hope that other students are sharing some of the same feelings (as much as I hope you’re all succeeding in your Fieldwork experiences, I find great comfort in having others that are also struggling). So that’s the honest truth about how it’s going. I’m just trying to keep my chin up and keep a positive attitude, and learn all that I can from the experience. I know that someday I’ll feel more confident in my knowledge and my abilities, and that I won’t feel like I’m under so much pressure at some point. Just keep swimming, am I right?

xo.

OT Fieldwork: First Thoughts

If you’ve been following the blog, you know I’m currently in Florida for my first Level 2 fieldwork/clinical rotation for occupational therapy. As the end of my third week is rapidly approaching, I thought I’d give you guys an update on how it’s going.

First Things First: What Even Is Fieldwork?

Great question! Occupational therapy is a Masters degree which lasts about 2 years. OT students complete Level 1 and Level 2 Fieldwork experiences at some point during their curriculum (all schools differ a little bit with timelines). In Level 2 Fieldwork, OT students are placed at an occupational therapy setting (pediatrics, inpatient rehabilitation, acute care, hand therapy, outpatient rehabilitation, etc.) full-time for 12 weeks, and by the end of the 12 weeks it is expected that the student will have a full caseload of patients and will be essentially functioning as an occupational therapist.

OT Fieldwork Feelings via Imperfect Chevron

My First Three Weeks

To be honest, I’m having a lot of ups and downs in my experience. I’m enjoying my setting and I feel like I’m learning SO much–every day I learn at least one new thing! But I feel uneasy and my confidence isn’t superb…I think it’s all part of the learning experience so I’m trying to be forgiving and supportive of myself, and remind myself that I will make mistakes and that it’s ok to make mistakes right now. My feelings about how I’m doing are riding a roller coaster multiple times each day; I go back and forth from feeling really good about what I did and proud of myself, to feeling uneasy and worrying that I’m disappointing my supervisor. It’s sounds kind of crazy, even as I’m typing it, but it’s something that I’m working on. I know that I’ll learn so much in my 12 weeks at this hospital, and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be mentored by such amazing OT’s.

The Best Part

Something that I’ve really enjoyed about my Fieldwork so far is the opportunity to connect with the patients. I consider myself an outgoing introvert, so I sometimes struggle with making small talk and starting conversations with people, but I’ve really enjoyed trying to engage the patients. It’s been very rewarding to work with the same people each day, and watch them progress. I find myself feeling very satisfied when I feel like I’ve made a connection with a patient. All in all, I’m so glad that I chose to study occupational therapy–I believe it’s a calling, rather than a career, and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I realize that I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to do. You know?

Thanks for letting me get all into my feelings and gush about OT today! You guys are the best.

xo.

OT Month: Where Do OT’s Work?

Now that I’ve explained a little about what occupational therapy is (you can read that post here), I want to talk a little about where OT’s can work.

April is #OTMonth

The cool thing about OT (and one of my favorite things about it!) is that we can work in a broad spectrum of settings. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages, which pretty much gives us a ton of opportunities to work. While the possibilities are pretty much endless, here are some of the more “traditional” OT settings:

Outpatient pediatrics, hand therapy clinics, skilled nursing facilities, pediatrics in the school setting, outpatient rehab, inpatient rehab, acute care, and assisted living facilities.

Occupational therapists can work in so many other settings, with so many different populations. I love that my future profession has so many opportunities to go in so many different directions. It makes me feel like the possibilities are limitless!

xo

5.

OT Month: What Even Is OT?

That’s a great question. It honestly feels like most people have no clue what Occupational Therapy is, and I get one of two reactions when I tell people that I’m studying to be an occupational therapist:

a. “Oh, cool! That’s like Physical Therapy, right?”

-or-

b. “Whoa. So you help people find jobs?”

Let me be the first to tell you, it’s okay if you don’t know what Occupational Therapy is. But it is my hope that by writing this blog post I will help at least one person understand OT!

My Quick Definiton

I’ve been asked countless times what OT is, and I’ve narrowed my standard definition to this:

Occupational therapy is a skilled health care service that works with people of all ages to do the things that they need to be able to do, want to do, and are expected to do in their daily lives. We may be able to help people restore skills that they previously had, or help people compensate or adapt when those skills are no longer available.

So what does that mean?

Basically, we all have daily activities, or occupations, that are meaningful or necessary for us to participate in. Some examples of occupations include (but aren’t limited to): taking a shower, driving to the grocery store, playing with friends, making dinner for your family, knitting a sweater, etc. These occupations are important to us because they make up our daily routine, they’re things that we want to do, things that we need to be able to do. And sometimes, life gets in the way of our successful participation in these occupations, whether it be a chronic illness, a stroke, a spinal cord injury, or many other life-altering experiences.

Occupational therapists work with each person individually to create person-centered goals and develop treatments that will help the person get back to those meaningful occupations. Sometimes, OT’s can help a person restore previous skills, working on strength and endurance to help a person go back to doing their occupations the way that they used to. Other times, OT’s will work with people to compensate for whatever is preventing them from participating in their occupations by providing adaptive equipment or by teaching the person a new way to do the activity.

Okay.

I know that’s a lot, but I’m hoping that some of it made sense! I hope that this post helped clear up some of the confusion about what OT is, and I hope to continue to post about Occupational Therapy through the month. I welcome any questions or comments that you might have! Want to know something about Occupational Therapy, or about grad school? Let me know!

xo.

OT Month: An Introduction

Happy April Fools Day, friends! I hope nobody was on the receiving end of a really mean prank today (:

I am happy to welcome April, and I want to share something really special about the month with all of you. April is OT Month!

For new readers that may not know, I’m currently going to graduate school for Occupational Therapy (aka, OT) in Pittsburgh. I’m nearly 1/2 way done with my graduate education (can I get a #WootWoot!?), and I can’t wait to graduate and start working in the field that I truly feel is not just a career, but a calling.

For OT Month, it is my goal (really hoping to achieve this one!) to share some information about Occupational Therapy with all of you, because I don’t think that most people know what it is. The most common response I get when I explain to people that I’m studying to be an Occupational Therapist is something along the lines of this: “Oh cool! That’s like Physical Therapy, right?” *Sigh*

So, be on the lookout for some #OTMonth posts. This mini-series will be called “OT Month,” and I’m really looking forwards to sharing my future profession and my passion with all of you.

xo.