Hello, friends! Happy June! I hope that all is well and that everyone’s summer is off to a great start. It has been a bit over a month since I last checked in with you all. I was in the midst of my finals as I wrapped up my first year of OT school two weeks ago. I cannot believe that I am officially 1/3 of the way done with my graduate school career. After 10 months of straight stretching of my brain, constant exams, papers, group projects, some tears, and a whole lot of Maverick City Music and prayer to get me through the hard days, I got through it all.
My brain feels like a sponge. It is wild to think about how much I have learned (and some retention of facts I still gotta improve on, shoutout to my professor for coining that phrase lol) in this year. Being in OT school simultaneously made me more familiar with what OT is and all that it has to offer as well as made me wonder what the heck is OT! Critical thinking is an aspect that I initially hoped would improve upon as I began school and took challenging courses such mental health, neuroscience, and kinesiology. Before, I was only familiar with the names of diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, and muscular dystrophy. Now, I come out understanding the prognoses, assessments, and possible interventions that I can begin to utilize to improve the quality of life of those with these various diagnoses.
Here are 10 highlights of practical skills that I can now add to my toolkit!
- I can transfer literally anyone despite my small frame.
- I can take manual blood pressure (I struggled so hard before).
- I can administer motivational interviewing, Socratic questioning, and strategic interviewing to gather pertinent info to build an occupational profile on a client.
- I can complete an entire case study related to OT in mental health settings in 2 hours (and I write way too much so that is impressive for me!)
- I can use various types of Hoyer lifts and transfer patients such as kiddos with muscular dystrophy who have limited range of motion and weakness in their extremities.
- I can assess range of motion of joints and administer a manual muscle test for various muscles for folks experiencing musculoskeletal symptoms or pathologies of the upper extremities.
- I can teach a person who experienced a stroke on how to implement upper extremity hemi-dressing to promote independence in ADLs.
- I can create and implement (and hopefully sell one day) a group protocol.
- I can properly measure and fit a walker.
- I can juggle three group projects at one time.
Besides all the cool OT things I’ve been learning this year, the most critical aspect that I’ve taken away from my experience of being an OT student is that I really can do anything that I set my mind to. School is HARD and it is really difficult to remember the purpose of it all when I am boggled down with assignments, projects, and exams that seem to never end. However, a support system in and out of school, surrounding myself with positive folks who uplift me, and faith and confidence in my abilities are truly the most integral aspects that have made this journey all worth it. I walked away with lots of golden nuggets (shoutout to another one of my professors for coining this term) that I am excited to continue to build on and implement into my emerging career as an OT.
Now, I am going to take my much needed hiatus from being a grad student and tap into being all identities of Irene this summer. Thanks for cheering me on, Renrenspeakers, on this journey and being so invested in it as well!
Peace and love,