Monday, February 22, 2016

The Not-So-Pretty Side of Academia

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

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


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!