Thursday, April 28, 2016

Close to the End

OMG FIELDWORK IS OVER TOMORROW WHERE DID THE TIME GO??? But seriously, I cannot believe how quickly the last 16 weeks have flown by. From waking up at 5:20 every morning in order to make it on time, to not making it home until 7:00 or later some days, it has been tough to say the least. 

Yesterday I presented my project to my site mentors, and I think they were impressed. The GIF below explains how I feel perfectly. 

When you crush your presentation at the end of fieldwork. 
{from whatshouldwecallot}

Some days it was so difficult to make myself do work when all I wanted to do was read online articles and shop for the most random items, but I knew I had to budget my time wisely in order to meet the demands of my site mentors. I have to admit, I spent more time on it this week (but I had a feeling it would happen that way) simply because I had a final, hard deadline to meet. I had to manage my own time every day since I didn't have anyone checking up on me to see how things were going. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I was able to put the skills I've learned over the last 3 years to good use. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Professional Communication

Being able to effectively communicate is one of the most important life skills we possess. Communication is the act of transferring information from one place to another, either vocally, written, visually, or non-verbally. Developing appropriate communication skills can help your life professionally and personally. Some aspects of communication skills we will discuss include communication styles, learning styles, body language, and communication breakdown, all of which help to facilitate a student's learning during the fieldwork experience.

For example, if a student is unable to effectively discuss a home exercise program with a client, how will the client be able to follow through at home appropriately to maintain his/her functional ability? Or what if a student or clinician is interaction with another professional but that person has difficulty using appropriate terminology to hold a conversation, how might that impact the working relationship?

Other types of communication can include leaning a team, giving a presentation, providing documentation--all require communication skills. One needs to actively listen, clearly express ideas, speak with confidence, and write effectively. As a student, I remember reading over emails numerous times in order to make sure the email sounded professional and educated in the best way possible. And I probably still am that way. Regardless, all communication skills are a vital piece to this profession. 

OT Advocacy

Advocating for patients and for the profession are huge pieces to promoting occupational therapy. Professional advocacy can come in may different forms, such as working with insurance companies, state & national therapy associations, networking, lobbying, writing letters to your state representative. Patient advocacy may be more familiar to people as OTs are required to justify why a client needs services, or why they need continued services. It is our responsibility to use our knowledge and clinical skills to stand up for each patient as we see fit.

Also, last weekend Andrew and I met with some of our friends in our young marrieds church class. They asked me what occupational therapy is since they hadn't heard of it (no surprise there).  Since English wasn't their first language, it was a bit of a challenge. I broke it down into occupations being everyday activities (ADLs), more complex activities (IADLs), and community mobility. I also told them the big piece of occupational therapy is increasing independence for everyone in whatever way possible. OTs work across the lifespan, modifying and educating the people we work with and their families/caregivers.

The next question I got was interesting. The wife of the couple asked me if I could do any job, what would it be? And without skipping a beat, I told her I love what I'm doing as a therapist. Seeing clients make progress warms my heart and I find it so rewarding.

And now more people know about what I do! Keep spreading the word!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Final Week

Well, I never thought this day would come but it's here! My last week of fieldwork. Wow. Things have been quiet around the office since the students are on break this week, and it's quite an adjustment from what I've gotten used to. Over lunch was my final meeting with the faculty, and it was another G & P meeting to discuss any potential student issues. Overall, things are going well but everyone was reminded that if a student fails or withdraws it affects their GPA. For example, a student who fails fieldwork may not be able to graduate with the 3.0 required. Why? Because fieldwork is considered a full course load (full time) for 9 or 12 hours. Which in turn takes a huge hit to a student's GPA.

The other issue discussed during the meeting is the interview process. Does it need to be changed, and if so, how? Is there a way to identify students who may struggle in the curriculum early on? These are questions the faculty members are constantly faced with, and I'm not sure there was a final answer.

Overall, the meeting was much less formal than what I'd previously seen, most likely because of students not being on campus so the professors were feeling more laid back and not under so much stress.

FOUR MORE DAYS!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pediatric Assessments

The students had their pediatrics practical today(apparently I'm a harsh grader, sorry guys!) and it was interesting! I had to make a cheat sheet for myself as I have trouble recalling all the necessary information. There were 6 assessments available to use, and I wanted to share my cheat sheet with everyone for use later down the road! I should disclaimer that this is not a complete end-all be-all cheat sheet.

Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOT-2)

Age: 4-21 years
Population: Typically developing to moderate motor deficits, suspected motor delays & sensory processing
Constructs: fine motor precision, fine motor integration,  manual dexterity, upper-limb coordination, bilateral coordination, balance, running speed & agility, and strength

Developmental Test of Visual Perception (DTVP-2)

banner

Ages: 4 years - 12 years 11 months
Population: Children who have difficulty with visual & motor skills
Constructs: eye hand coordination, copying, figure ground, visual closure, and form constancy

Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (PDMS-2)


Ages: birth - 5 years
Population: children with suspected motor delays
Constructs: grasping, visual motor integration, reflexes, locomotion, and object manipulation

Pediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI)


Ages:  6 months - 7 years 6 months
Population: Children with physical disabilities
Constructs: self-care, mobility, and social function

Sensory Profile 2


Ages: birth - 14 years 11 months
Population: children with suspected motor delays or behavioral issues
Constructs: 4 domains - sensory seeker, sensory avoider, sensory sensitivity, and sensory registration; types of sensory issues can include general, auditory, visual, touch, movement, oral, or behavioral

School Function Assessment (SFA)
Ages: kindergarten - 6th grade
Population: anyone in elementary school, students with disabilities
Constructs: participation, task supports, and activity performance (includes physical & cognitive/behavioral tasks)

So there you have it. A quick, easy reference to some pediatric assessments. Keep in mind that some of these also have newer versions/editions, however this post pertains to the assessments the university currently has available. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Professional Requirements in Texas

A huge piece of information I've been working on for my final project is to outline the requirements of supervision in the great state of Texas. Having gone to school in Nebraska, I feel at a slight disadvantage in my knowledge of licensure and the rules and whanot.

Some key pieces which came into play for my project were the OT Rules and OT Practice Act, as well as amendments to both (they can be found here) as well as the Texas Administrative Code (found here) since there have been instances where clinical instructors aren't always aware of the requirements. It seems no matter where I am, there's always some supervisor who doesn't always follow the rules. For example, one of my classmates was given the full patient caseload (she was perfectly capable of handling it) and her supervisor took the day off. Although nothing went awry while the supervisor was gone, it was certainly not the appropriate thing to do.

Something else I've started looking at is the cost of the board exam and licensing requirements. While the exam currently costs $500, I also have to pay $140 to become licensed in the Texas. Or if I want to get my temporary license (which may be a legit possibility depending on upcoming interviews), that will cost me $70. I've spent quite a bit of time recently looking over the general application information. In addition to all of this, there's also a mandatory OT Jurisprudence Exam online which I also have to take.

There's so much to do!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

AOTA Conference & Networking

Hey readers! Last week was a whirlwind as I left Houston on Wednesday to travel to CHICAGO for AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association) Conference. It was amazing and I learned so many interesting things, but I'll have to save all those things for another blog post--keep your eyes peeled for those!  I have to admit, the thought didn't cross my mind to bring my resume until I was already in Chicago at conference. Fortunately, people tend to remember me thank you tall genes!

The most important thing I wanted to discuss (before I forget about it!) was the power of networking I saw at this year's conference compared to last year. First, I networked with some professors who I hadn't seen in nearly a year! And then of course I networked with several of the UTMB faculty, attending sessions with them and supporting them during poster presentations. Pretty simple.

The fun part happened when I met recruiters at the Expo Hall from TIRR Memorial Hermann and MD Anderson. The therapist with MD Anderson still remembers me from when I did a one week fieldwork back in October 2014. She encouraged me to apply online and email her directly a resume. Pretty cool, right?

With TIRR, I have to give a little backstory. About two weeks ago Creighton sent out an email stating a recruiter would be coming to visit. Of course, not being in Omaha, I felt at quite a disadvantage and missing out on a huge opportunity. I got things in order and the recruiter actually called me yesterday! While I was at conference, I met with other recruiters and got to know them. Additionally, I got an email yesterday from another TIRR facility encouraging me to apply to their facility. How awesome is that???

Shoot I just might have a job before graduation! Amazing how networking with professionals can get you where you want to go.

T-31 days until graduation!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Otago for Balance

Remember the guy I was talking about earlier this week? Let's talk about him a little more. One assessment I conducted on him was the Otago balance protocol. Everything you need to know about the Otago can be found here (all I did was google Otago balance). So far, the clinic has only used it as an assessment. It combines the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test, the  Four-Test Balance Scale, and the Chair Stand test.

All three of these tests indicates fall risk among older adults. The Otago also comes with exercises clients may use to decrease their fall risk and improve their strength and balance. I'm still impressed at the sheer number of assessments available out there--there's no way I could learn about every single one in school. You'd spend 3 years or more just dong that!

As you can imagine, things at the clinic were a mess and I couldn't find the protocol. I had to wing it, and it honestly wasn't too terrible. Unfortunately I didn't get to all three tests because I ran out of time.

Got any thoughts/suggestions/ideas/concerns for me?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wheelchair Billing & Funding

Yesterday evening was the monthly TOTA district meeting, and I went for a little while. It's tough attending meetings in the evenings in Galveston since I have such a long commute. But I stayed and enjoyed it. A lady whose name I can't remember presented with knowledge of spinal muscular atrophy related to wheelchair billing and funding. Most of the information was stuff I already knew, having done a few wheelchair evaluations during fieldwork.

Needless to say it was helpful and I learned some stuff! My apologies for being so vague, like I said I wasn't able to stay for very long. Had I stayed for the entire meeting I wouldn't have made it home until 9:00pm or later. Yikes. A really good resource I found for wheelchair funding can be found here. There's a ton of information, so don't let yourself get overwhelmed!

*Update* on Easter Sunday, my uncle who has a spinal cord injury was able to get out of his home and celebrate with family. It was absolutely amazing to see him out and about, thanks to his power wheelchair and new mobility van. Hopefully nobody saw me get teary-eyed because of my excitement and happiness for him being able to have some normalcy return to his life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Post-Vacay

Today is my first day back in the office after being gone a whole week for spring break plus I took yesterday off to attend my Papaw's funeral in Tyler. Very sad, but his memorial service was wonderful and we knew it was a matter of when he would pass, not if. Thanks in advance for your condolences.

Anyways, the week before everyone left for spring break I completed a new patient evaluation at St. Vincent's clinic. I looked at his range of motion and some muscle testing, as well as quick vision and cognition screens. I felt a little perplexed after doing the evaluation and I haven't given it a second thought until now. He's a middle aged man who had a stroke earlier this year. His primary complaint is dizziness and soreness, and the soreness is all over his body. As I was interviewing him, he misheard some of the questions I asked. Initially, I thought nothing of it but it happened a second time. What I was asking and his answer definitely didn't add up. Occasionally he was unable to follow my verbal commands (like when we were testing range of motion). His balance isn't that great either. Something was off, yet I can't pinpoint what it is.

Being in an academic setting, that afternoon made me feel like my clinical skills have dwindled drastically (nice alliteration, huh?) but I still felt confident during the eval and the students were able to follow and understand what I was doing and why I was doing it.

I want to continue addressing the pain in his upper extremities, while also figuring out more about what's happening with his cognition as well as how his balance is doing. I know he's also receiving physical therapy from the same clinic, but I'm not sure PT is helping him all that much either. We'll see how things go at the end of next week!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Plan of Care & Clinic Role

One thing I've noticed at the clinic is the large number of clients who come in having suffered a stroke. Additionally, the clinic doesn't currently have electronic patient records, only paper documentation, which can make things difficult sometimes. 

As I was doing my research, I found some helpful info from AOTA. It reads as follows:

Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability in the United States, with an estimated 7 million stroke survivors. Each year, approximately 795,000 people have either a new or recurrent stroke (Go et al., 2013). Stroke survivors face multiple challenges, such as weakness on one side of the body, decline in cognitive and emotional functioning, social disability, inability to walk and care for themselves, and a decrease in community participation. Occupational therapy can be instrumental in addressing these challenges at all stages in the continuum of care (i.e., acute, sub-acute, chronic, and post-rehab at home and in the community) and is an important component of the interdisciplinary care provided to stroke survivors in a variety of settings (e.g., neuro intensive care units, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation facilities, home care).

Rehabilitation and the Resumption of Participation 

The focus of occupational therapy is to help individuals achieve health, well-being, and participation in life through engagement in occupations (i.e., activities) (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 2014). Occupational therapy practitioners collaborate with clients and their families or caregivers to determine what activities are necessary, meaningful, and/or relevant to them. Based on their education and clinical expertise, and the philosophical basis of the profession, occupational therapy practitioners are uniquely able to analyze the interactions among the person, the environments in which they need to function, and the occupations they need or want to perform.   
Many stroke survivors have changes in their physical, cognitive, and emotional abilities that impede them from independently performing their daily activities related to work, school, parenting, or leisure. Depending on the extent of the stroke, the needs and goals of the client, and the phase of stoke recovery, occupational therapy goals and services may include, but are not limited to the following: 
  • Further retraining in self-care skills and adapting tasks or environments (post-rehab), including the appropriate use of adaptive equipment to maximize the ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) safely (e.g., bathing, dressing, functional mobility)
  • Addressing ongoing deficits such as weakness, sensory loss, and cognitive or visual impairments that limit engagement in ADLs and instrumental ADLs (IADLS: carrying groceries, cooking a meal, managing money, parenting)
  •  Training in community reintegration and modifying tasks or environments, including, where appropriate, assessment of and training in the use of assistive technology, to maximize independent engagement in IADLs. 
  • Performing work-related task analysis and work site evaluations, and recommending modifications to the workplace; collaborating with educational facilities to facilitate return to school; working with the client on child-care-related tasks and adaptations for safe parenting responsibilities; and recommending adaptations to resume former leisure activities or develop new ones as feasible.  
  • Evaluating and treating swallowing difficulties
  • Developing coping strategies to support psychosocial health and well-being (including relaxation techniques, if appropriate)
  • Teaching and promoting healthy lifestyle habits and routines to minimize risk of secondary stroke
  • Developing strategies to overcome barriers to sexual intimacy 
  • Providing pre-driving and driving evaluations, equipment recommendations for safe return to driving, or education on alternate means of transportation

Paving the Way for Increased Independence

Occupational therapy during rehabilitation focuses on ensuring that the client will function as well as possible after discharge, which often includes caregiver education and training, if needed, during post-rehab intervention. Other occupational therapy interventions include home modifications, assistive technology training, and wheelchair prescriptions (manual or powered) for improving quality of life and increasing independence.
Home modifications may include accessible designs for all rooms in one’s house, ramps, wheelchair lifts or elevators, and stair lifts.
Assistive technology may include environmental control units, augmentative communication, and computer access technology. The occupational therapist considers the client’s available range of motion, strength, coordination, cognitive status, etc., and works with the vendor as needed to select the most appropriate assistive technology equipment, set it up, and provide training to ensure that it is functional for that individual.  
Community mobility is often a primary goal for people recovering from a stroke, and many people want to return to driving. Occupational therapists can perform pre-driving screens and driving assessments, which include a comprehensive physical, cognitive, and visual-perceptual evaluation prior to a road assessment. A road assessment entails all aspects of driving, such as parking, switching lanes, turning one’s head to look for cars, reaction time, and the ability to follow driving rules. Equipment recommendations may include a spinner knob for people with limited voluntary movement of one hand or arm, or a left foot accelerator for people who have weakness in the right leg. Occupational therapy practitioners also work with individuals and their families in planning alternative transportation and community mobility methods, such as access-a-ride, family or friend assistance, and senior center transportation systems. 

Conclusion

Occupational therapy practitioners understand the importance of emotional well-being, social connections, and healthy life habits for individuals post-stroke. In addition to ongoing physical rehabilitation as needed, they engage stroke survivors and family members to take charge of their lives, create human connections, and lead healthy lifestyles. This may include developing coping strategies to deal with loss, individualized ways to promote psychosocial health, education to minimize potential for a second stroke, promotion of increased exercise and healthy eating, and strategies to overcome barriers to sexual intimacy. 
Stroke can cause serious long-term disability, and many stroke survivors face barriers to engaging in productive activity. Occupational therapy practitioners use their expertise in activity analysis and adaptive methods to facilitate the client’s performance of needed or meaningful occupations within realistic contexts to promote independence.

Retrieved from here. Interesting right? Hopefully this gives you more insight as to the process of working with patients who've suffered a stroke in the past. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Not-So-Pretty Side of Academia

*Disclaimer* 
This post is strictly for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to the completeness and accuracy of the info found here, and I reserve the right to remove this post at anytime.

Like every typical Monday, the department had their usual scheduled meeting over the lunch hour. Only this week's meeting was unlike any other meeting I've attended thus far. Last week was midterm for UTMB students currently on fieldwork and some students are certainly struggling.

This meeting was devoted to determine the best approach to address the issue of a student who failed the midterm evaluation for fieldwork. 

I can't go into detail (sorry for being vague!), but everyone discussed the student's strengths and weaknesses. The entire time faculty debated on the best possible option for the student in question. Sitting there listening to the faculty members converse back and forth, I couldn't help but wonder if any of my classmates were ever in a similar situation during fieldwork. If anyone was I certainly never heard about it. Besides, I would never want a classmate to fail fieldwork and be removed from the program! But to play devil's advocate, if a student failed fieldwork and didn't do well academically, should they really be allowed to continue?

So friends, what would you do? If the fate of this student continuing OT school rested upon your shoulders, would you give them another chance or give them the boot?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Handling & Billing

I'm sitting here, post-lunch coma, not really wanting to do much of anything *sigh*. Honesty is the best policy, right?

So in continuing to use my little slice of cyberspace as a sounding board for all things OT this semester, I did a little research on continuing education (CE) courses offered in the Houston area. TOTA has their own list of CE courses which is where I started my search. There are 33 courses on the spreadsheet, seven of which are in the Houston area. Courses offered ranged in topics from hand therapy, patient handling, wheelchair billing, low vision assistive technology, mirror therapy for stroke rehab, and the usual Representative Assembly report & update.

The Representative Assembly makes policy for AOTA, which in turn gets constituents to act on professional issues. That means the RA plays a huge role in the policies which affect the direction of the OT profession. Interestingly enough, one of the faculty members is responsible for presenting the report & update. Pretty nifty!

Out of all the course topics mentioned above, I think I might be most interested in the wheelchair billing. I saw some wheelchair stuff during my last fieldwork, custom fittings from companies and whatnot--but I'm always wanting to learn more!

I imagine there's plenty of other CE courses out there, but I'll save that search for another time and another exciting post.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Problem Based Learning

Yesterday afternoon I chose to attend (and it was recommended by my mentor) a lecture/learning workshop through the Office of Educational Development at UTMB about "problem based learning" presented by Oma Morey, who has been teaching PBL for years. What exactly is PBL? UTMB defines it as a form of experiential learning focused on the investigation, explanation, and resolution of real-world clinical problems. What does that mean? The students are given a clinical case to learn from and they are required to collaborate to find solutions to the case. It is primarily used in the med school for students to facilitate their learning. 

I went to the building and was given a well put-together binder with all the information I would need over the next 4 hours. Several other professors and faculty members were in attendance, all from the school of medicine and school of nursing, and another OT professor attended the workshop too. After learning the basics of PBL, we took the student role and worked through a case presented to us as we would if we were in a PBL class, which was quite interesting and flowed naturally with professionals.

The format for teaching is as follows:
- problem identification
- hypotheses
- learning issues
- additional information
- discussion
-synthesis/summary

Each case is presented over two or three days, where the students explore knowledge, generate a problem list and ideas that may be causing the problems, and determine unknowns in the first day. Day 2 starts with a discussion of learning issues, presenting the patient, applying unknowns to the case, revisit and narrow hypotheses, and continue unfolding the case until a solution is reached. Sound complicated? Truly it is simple once you have an understanding of what you're trying to accomplish. 

Afterwards, we had a short debriefing session and a session structure layout for facilitators. I have to admit, I was skeptical of going at first thinking this will be boring and I'm going to fall asleep but I quite enjoyed it! Some other handy paperwork was also in the binder, including evidence supporting problem based learning over lecture based learning and team learning, as well as information on additional facilitator skills workshops at later dates (this was an intro course FYI). 

Needless to say I learned a lot of helpful information from it, but I'm not sure it is an appropriate approach for OT students, simply because we do some PBL in lectures and so much of our knowledge comes from fieldwork experiences. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Eight Things

Over the weekend, I came across an article I fell in love with and wanted to file away for later. It was written several months ago, and I could relate to every single point made. The piece is titled "Eight Things My Very Tall Daughter Can Expect" and you can click here to read it. A condensed version is below.

1. You will experience many small disappointments. 

2. Everyone will know you are tall (and everyone will point it out).

3. People will think you have skills you don't possess.

4. People will think you are older than you are. 

5. Size doesn't matter when it comes to you and your friends.

6. Size does matter when it comes to your significant other.

7. People will think you're responsible.

8. Everyone will know you're my daughter. 

In case you don't know, my mom is NOT TALL (see picture below) and she's also wearing heels in that photo. She prepared me for so much in life and I am so thankful for her. But knowing how to be tall and accept that I'll never be normal height was something she couldn't teach--I had to learn it all on my own (and with some help from my dad and sister).


Real life story: my sister and my mom were at the grocery store once and the cashier didn't believe our mom was our real birth mom. Or that it was possible for my mom to have such a tall daughter. Silly people.

And I never want to not be tall.  
Even when it's impossible to find clothes, fit in cars, and deal with all sorts of tall problems.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

All About Visual Perceptual Skills

Yesterday in lab the students learned about five different (but still similar) visual perceptual assessments, two of which I was unfamiliar with. So what did I do? Pulled up my comprehensive assessment chart and added them to the list! And as you can imagine, students will be required later in the semester to administer one of the five tests. For a better understanding of visual perceptual skills, this website provides easy to understand information about all the visual perceptual skills we have. Without further ado, let me give you the low down on each of the assessments we covered!


Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (Beery VMI)
{Image from Google}
Key Points
- appropriate for ages 2-99
- use when there is a suspected visual motor deficit
- looks at visual motor integration, visual perception, and motor control
- easy to administer, difficult to score


Developmental Test of Visual Perception (DTVP)
{Image from Google}
Key Points
- appropriate for ages 4-12 years 11 months
- use when children have difficulty with vision and motor skills
- looks at eye-hand coordination, copying, figure ground, visual closure, and form constancy
- easy to administer and score


Motor Free Visual Perception Test (MVPT)
{Image from Google}
Key Points
- appropriate for ages 4-95
- use when there are suspected visual difficulties especially with people who may have other deficits
- looks at spatial relationships, visual closure, visual discrimination, visual memory, and figure ground
- easy to administer and score


Test of Visual Motor Skills (TVMS)
{Image from Google}
Key Points
- appropriate for ages 3-90
- use when there is visual motor dysfunction specifically with copying
- measures eye-hand coordination and visual motor skills
- easy to administer and score


Test of Visual Perceptual Skills (TVPS)
{Image from Google}
Key Points
- appropriate for ages 4-18
- use when children have typical developing motor skills but may have visual perceptual concerns
- measures visual discrimination, visual memory, visual closure, figure ground, sequential memory, spatial relations, & form constancy

So, all these assessments sound similar with measuring the same skills and information. Oftentimes a site only has one particular assessment and therefore you use whatever you have on hand. During my first Level II fieldwork, I administered the MVPT several times to adults and kids. Pretty interesting to see what abilities they have or are lacking. 


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Snow Versus Sand

Not gonna lie, I am ever so slightly jealous that Creighton is having a snow day today while I still have to go to campus. Oh well. I think I'd prefer the beach to the snow any day! Sorry for the terrible photo quality, the weather was kinda odd Tuesday morning. But there's the beach. I promise I'll share more throughout the semester. Grab your swimsuit and a towel! Let's go!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Introducing....SoftChalk

Surviving another Monday, hopefully. 

The good news is that I've started working on my semester-long project! Although I've probably already told y'all that...oops.

Anyways, remember how I was talking about UTMB starting an OTD program? Well they are at some point and the platform they want to use is called SoftChalk. which should be super user friendly. I'm here to tell you that IT IS NOT. Maybe I'll get the hang of it eventually, but for now I want to rip my hair out. Who designed this anyways????! Ugh.

My site mentor(s) helped me determine that SoftChalk will be the best and most appropriate way to deliver content to online learners. Simply put, I'm developing a website for new fieldwork educators to utilize as a way to have them answer all their questions they may have about taking a student on during fieldwork. Thinking about taking a student myself makes me nervous, and I can't even do that for 2+ more years. Yikes.

I hope I can put together something awesome for UTMB, and I can already tell I've got a lot of work to do. I can do this!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Learn About Yourself

After attending the weekly department meetings, I'm quickly learning there are very different personalities and ways of communicating. And I'm also learning that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to educating students (for example, the students are so confused on how to write goals because they've been taught eight million different ways to write them--I totally understand their frustrations) which can be problematic at times. All of this made me think about my learning styles and strengths which we talked about in school but there's no way I'll find that info buried in my laptop so I decided to dig it up and see how I can better fit myself into the puzzle that is my ProRo.

To start, I am a multi-modal learner, which means I learn in multiple ways. If you're unsure on what type of learner you are, check out this quick quiz. Specifically, I learn best when information is presented visually, auditorally [not sure that's a real word but go with it], and physically (aka tactile/kinesthetic). This also means that info can be presented to me in many ways and I can still learn from it, which may be the same for most people. Some other info I found discussed which parts of the brain are used with each learning style. Based on my learning style, I use my occipital and temporal lobes, cerebellum, and motor cortex to recall info, and it's all thanks to brain-imaging technology. Kinda cool right?

Something I completed in undergrad and again in OT school was the StrengthsFinder Profile. Technically I did the StrengthsQuest Profile, but my results didn't change. My top strengths are (in exact order): Developer, Adaptability, Positivity, Empathy, and Includer. What does all this mean?

Developer
People especially talented in the Developer theme recognize and cultivate the potential in others. They spot the signs of each small improvement and derive satisfaction from these improvements.

Adaptability:
People especially talented in the Adaptability theme prefer to “go with the flow.” They tend to be “now” people who take things as they come and discover the future one day at a time.

Positivity:
People especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.

Empathy:
People especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.

Includer:
People especially talented in the Includer theme are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.

I think those strengths describe me...what do you think?

One other thing we did during undergrad (which I'm sure you've heard of) is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which you can take an easy, free version here. There are 16 different types out there, and sometimes you can fall into multiple types, as there's always gray areas in life. For me, I have an ISFJ personality [meaning Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging] and 16 Personalities says ISFJs are true altruists, meeting kindness with kindness-in-excess and engaging the work and people they believe in with enthusiasm and generosity. Even looking at the strengths and weaknesses, I think this personality type fits me well. 

So how might I use this knowledge during ProRo? Definitely when working with others it will help to know my strengths and weaknesses so I can be the best me possible [does that make sense?] and form hopefully lasting relationships with faculty members. Even when helping students, my strengths may help in ways faculty members strengths may not be as helpful. Who knows. 

Too much you wanted to know about me? NEVER!

Monday, January 25, 2016

First Meeting of Many

Today was the first time I attended a weekly meeting and had a good understanding of the key discussion points. The hot topics included:

Adding EMR to curriculum
As more fieldwork sites make the switch to electronic documentation, students should know how to access and utilize EMRs, especially when looking for physician referrals/orders and conducting chart reviews

Updates on Fieldwork
The class of 2016 is currently on their first Level II FW, and the class of 2017 is going on their first Level I FW in March. The first year students will all be doing their first week in a pediatric setting.  Lots of students means lots of sites are needed, and right now many sites aren't willing to take a student so there are some issues but from the way things are going and a big response from former students on Facebook there should be enough places for everyone. 

Updates on Selectives
Selectives, sound like electives, more or less the same. All students are required to be in a selective every semester, and there are 6 or 7 selectives available to students. However, some selectives are only one semester while others may last two or three semesters. Everything is going well, and I am helping out with the St. Vincent's selective. You can read more about St. Vincent's here, but it is a student-run clinic and the OT students get to practice their skills on real clients. It's pretty cool!

Also, to build camaraderie within the staff, everyone goes out for lunch on Tuesdays. Sounds tasty for having not explored much of Galveston but also expensive! I'll probably go once a month with everyone. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Project Ideas

As the end of another week draws near, my site mentor and I have been brainstorming ideas for my project as well as other activities I can engage in during my time here. Since UTMB has never experienced an EOTD student completing a ProRo at their site, all of this is uncharted territory for everyone. Most of the professors have their own research projects, which MOT students will be helping with, so that's not really an option. I could do something simple like a flyer or poster to help students, but I'm not sure that would be beneficial.

Another project my site mentor and I have talked about is some sort of program for the fieldwork class. After talking with the fieldwork coordinator, it sounds like she wants to create some sort of online continuing education course for fieldwork supervisors. Definitely sounds like something I can do, and it seems that it would greatly benefit the program, and clinical instructors too. But I don't have a clue how to organize all the information. Topics included recent research, communication, AOTA standards, site objectives, goal writing, and expectations, to name a few. A PowerPoint or Prezi sound like options but I don't think that's the best option for organizing information.

Decisions, decisions.........got any suggestions for me?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

One Down, Fifteen to Go

Or I suppose since it is Monday we're at the start of week two. 

I meant to write all of this on Friday but I was exhausted after I got home. Plus Andrew had to fly to D.C. for the weekend for some big board meeting, I was a total bum on the couch. I think I'm gonna like it at UTMB, but the drive is horrendous. I spend an hour in the car plus 20 minutes or so taking the shuttle or walking to the School of Health Professions (SHP) building. Basically, I'm out the door by 6:30 every morning. Yuck. And you guessed it, I don't get home until 6:30 or 7:00 pm either. Plus, the commute doesn't factor in the awful Houston traffic--but I'm grateful to be traveling against the flow of traffic both ways. I checked the mileage on my car--I put over 500 miles on my car in a week!

But it isn't all bad. I get to park across the street from the beach! [insert reminder to share a picture] I think I will fit in well with the staff members, and I'm also feeling close to the students (but really they have no idea who I am). I can empathize with them you could say.

Here's what my weekly schedule is shaping up to be:

Pediatrics Lecture 8-10 am 
Mondays, Tuesdays, & Fridays

Pediatrics Lab 8-10, 10-12, 1-3
Wednesdays

Department Meeting 12-1 pm
Mondays

Fieldwork Class 3-5 pm
Mondays

St. Vincent's Clinic 1-4 pm
Fridays

Time outside of that schedule will likely be spent on plenty of other things...not sure what those things are yet aside from my final project. I anticipate having little free time but that doesn't mean I won't get distracted but enough spare time so I won't be pulled in a thousand different directions. It should be interesting to say the least. Also I had a three day weekend, hollaaaaa! Loved having Monday to myself.

Also on a much more personal note, my grandpa had a very minor stroke over the weekend. I think he's doing okay but keep him in your prayers!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Last Semester EVER

Hi friends!

So y'all may notice a few changes in the coming months. Next week I'll be starting my last semester of OT school and I'll be finishing fieldwork at UTMB in Galveston. Basically my blog is gonna turn into a sounding board for my OT adventures. My main focus for fieldwork this next semester is academia--learning all the ins and outs of the other side. Should be interesting since I'm still technically on the student side.

So if I lose you as a follower, I'll miss you but not that much ouch sorry I will miss you some. So between now and next Monday, I'll be soaking up what little precious time of Christmas break I have left. Oh and trying to unpack the apartment so it feels more like home! And binge watching Friends on Netflix. Always.