Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I am going to try hard to do a picture post this weekend of a lot of the stuff I am using/carrying around with me. I tried to do a picture post the other night as I went through all my own personal K-4 papers of childhood, but Picasa misbehaved :( Apparently I used to spell my name backwards, ie starting with the N, e, r, a, K. And look at me, I turned out okay (don't comment)! So maybe my reversals kids will be alright too. :)
Okay so....now that I've done a brief update to say I AM REALLY CRAZY BUSY...I am really crazy busy and therefore really crazy to be blogging right now. I need to prep for tomorrow! Starting...NOW!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A) Child using too much pressure when writing (ie thick dark lines; fatigues easily from the effort of pressing so hard)
B) Giving a 15-minute or so lesson to an entire 1st grade class on copying from the board.
Have got a few ideas that I will share at some point soon, but would love to hear from my readers in the meantime. Going to do a quick Google search now (my brain is fried for the night...proof: I spelled that brian), and then go to bed...my goal was ridiculously early and it's already an hour past that....
Sunday, April 17, 2011
I need to take pictures of my OT stash which is accumulating daily and share more of it. Or maybe make another video - my last one about my pediatric toolbox is like...3 years old. Unfortunately I think I've spent more on OT toys lately than I've actually made in salary, haha. Most of it is from the dollar store or dollar sections, but it adds up quickly. :) And then I have a lot in my old craft bins I'm grabbing. It's a little overwhelming actually. Too much of a good thing, in a way. I need to figure out just what I want for tommorrow's kids and not go crazy figuring out the rest! :) One day at a time.
I also printed out a bunch of Tonya's TherapyFunZone stuff, like animal shapes and cootie catchers!! (I totally wrote cootchie by accident....that would be inappropriate).
One thing I'd love some feedback on is BEHAVIOR strategies. Like if I have a elementary school aged child who avoids cutting, drawing, writing, etc, how do I encourage them to do it? I am guessing people will say to avoid it for the most part as well and focus on underlying skills that are deficient and causing the difficulties. Or say use rewards. I just read an article on kidsatthought.com about how using reward systems is ultimately not helpful long-term. I think for a while, as the kids get used to me, since I'm new to this job, I will try to focus a little more on fun stuff so they grow to like me...then once they like me and think they're gonna have fun, I bring out the hard stuff and show them how wrong they were. :) KIDDING - I'm very big on making OT fun for them. Magical. But that takes a lot of hard work. So. I'm working on it. And I can't work on it if I am blogging. So. Off to go print stuff and go through my big ol' toolbox to figure out tommorow's games!
One wise OT (Orli I think?) once told me I could use the same activity in a given day with each kid, but modify it accordingly. IE a day where the children make spiders - it could be made easy or hard depending on how much cutting, gluing, coloring, writing about it, etc....and obviously based on what the child is working on in OT. So a kindergardener and 5th grader could do it at varying levels of difficulty and be working on completely different things. (IE one child is doing it for sequencing, another for fine motor). I liked that idea. I wouldn't do it all the time, but I could see how occasionally it would work well. Especially on theme days, like near Halloween.
Notice how I said I was off to do something then wrote another whole paragraph. Not cool, Karen. Okay this time I mean it. :)
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Treating Private Patients: A Great Opportunity for OT’s
Experiences During School Will Prepare You For...
It never ceases to amaze me how rich and diverse the field of Occupational Therapy is. Many incoming and early graduate students tend to think of our field in terms of:
- age range (mostly in terms of "kids or adults")
- specific impairments such as arm and hand dysfunction, sensory integration, dementia, vision impairments, driving safety, or ADL’s
- areas of practice such as physical health, mental health and community
- treatment settings such as pediatrics, rehabilitation in hospitals, home health, private clinics, work hardening
Throughout your undergraduate/graduate coursework and clinical placements, you will gain exposure to a wide variety of age groups, disorders and practice locations. These experiences will help build your clinical skills, while molding yourself into a competent clinician.
Your Early Career
The first year after graduating from your OT graduate program is a both stressful and liberating time in your career. In many ways, you are on your own now: able to work on the areas where you feel your patient needs the most help. This degree of autonomy can be scary for many new grads, but hopefully your supervisor, colleagues or former graduate school classmates can support and encourage your clinical decision making.
During the first few years of your career as an Occupational Therapist you will continue to learn so much about disorders, how patients can present differently, how to manage patients and family dynamics, etc. At this stage you will likely begin to gravitate to a specific age group, diagnosis, etc. I urge you to take as many continuing education courses (CEU's) as you can as you build your expertise. You may even opt to change jobs or settings in order to gain more exposure to different aspects of our field. All of these things will help you to grow and provide excellent care for your patients.
I Wonder If I Could Ever Have A Private Practice...?
Almost every OT friend of mine started out dreaming one day of having a private practice- but as they got into the field more and more, the safety of a regular job with consistent pay won out over the risk of going out on their own. To be honest, starting a private practice has a lot of extra work, extra responsibilities and headaches- but the trade off of high-income and more autonomy is very alluring for some people.
Private Patients: A Great Way to Start
Most of us got into this field because we love to help people, not because we wanted to make money. As time goes by though, the reality of car or house payments, wanting to have extra income for our families, vacations, etc. starts to hit and we become frustrated with our regular pay. Another benefit to private patients is flexibility of your schedule and also getting to treat ideal patients. Treating privately is a great way to help more people while making more money by seeing one to several private patients on the side.
How Does Private Therapy Work?
At some point, you will know colleagues that are treating private patients and a patient or family member will ask if you can provide private treatment. Private occupational therapy is often requested as a way to deal with:
- to provide consistent therapy during gaps over the summer for school-aged children
- to supplement therapy already being received (kids or adults)
- to continue therapy if insurance won't continue to pay for services (kids or adults)
Most private therapy occurs in the patients' home and OT's are paid either through cash/check or reimbursed through an insurance company. Therapists need to have their own liability insurance, document their treatment, market their services to obtain more clients and pay taxes on this extra income. Most therapists charge between $75-$125/hour for their services.
Is Private Therapy Right For You?
I recommend that you have at least 2-3 years experience as an OT before you begin treating privately. You need to build up your expertise in a diagnosis or treatment technique so that your services are truly valuable to your private patients. Because you'll be doing this on your own, you need to develop a level of confidence about both your clinical and business skills before you start. Starting to see private patients is almost like your first year of practicing all over again. Once you have some practice and experience, you'll feel much stronger. Some clinicians start with private patients and then graduate to starting their own free-standing private practice- others keep their regular job and see private patients on the side.
I hope this has helped open your mind to yet another really cool aspect of the field of Occupational Therapy!
Jena H. Casbon, MS CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist and founder of The Independent Clinician. After graduating from Emerson College in 2005, she has worked with adult outpatients in a rehabilitation hospital and inpatients in a skilled nursing facility. Three years into practicing as an SLP, she began treating private patients- but the lack of a "how-to guide" bothered her, so she wrote one.
Follow Jena on Twitter @IndClinician and Facebook http://www.facebook.
Be sure to visit http://www.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I finally realized what I should have done - is save them all as drafts and then post like, one a day, rather than posting five thousand at once. I didn't realize this until late in in the process. So now I have like six saved to do over the next few days/weeks as I remember....I don't know how to automatically post them regularly at a certain time, with blogger.com. Dunno if it's possible. Don't care enough to find out.
I look forward to all y'all's comments!! One thing about catching up on e-mail/blogging is that then you get this whole new deluge of comments/e-mails. A vicious cycle. BUT I LOVE THEM SO PLEASE E-MAIL/COMMENT YOUR HEART OUT. I'm just slow to respond!
So it took me about two hours to do this blog blizzard - my cat is bored. That says a lot. Good night.
Not sure if this is appropriate to ask for input from your readers as I don't know if you have many from the UK but we are looking to offer an internship / placement opportunity to prospective OT students and would love to get any feedback around what would be the most helpful way of structuring this to make sure we give the students the most benefit:
Any feedback from your readers would be fabulous and well done once again and hope it all goes well.
Tink who is about to become an OT student, http://tink343-unistudentlife.blogspot.com/Don't forget to check out TherapyFunZone http://www.therapyfunzone.com/ which has great stuff (I saw she very recently posted some new ideas!) and I am also loving OT in Public Schools http://otinpublicschools.blogspot.com/
I recommend using Google Reader or some other RSS reader so that you know when new posts come in, all in one spot, rather than having to go check each blog individually. I love Google Reader. :)
1) During this month (OT MONTH! APRIL IS OT MONTH!), Times Square in NYC is running an advertisement for OT EVERY HOUR! That is CRAZY! Have any of you seen this? :) Definitely high-def.
2) A former-coworker/supervisor/physical therapist wrote me to tell me that one of my OT ideas is still a hit for the child to do while in PT! I got a turkey baster from the dollar store, filled a bin with water, and then the child "washes" SpongeBob using the turkey baster - I had a SpongeBob PotatoHead that likes to be washed! I left him in my former clinic because he was so popular. Anyway - so - idea - have the child use a turkey baster to "wash" their favorite toy. It works on the child's hand strength and a little on sequencing - so it can be an OT tool by itself, or it can turn into a PT tool if the child is using it as an engrossing activity while working on standing/kneeling/whatever! :)
One of my blog readers/now Facebook friends/current OT student/current OT student blogger, who I will label "M", wrote me to let me know one of her classmates found my blog by googling "I love OT". And then that classmate discovered through my sidebar that "M" had a blog too! Small world. I LOVE that my blog was found by googling "I love OT". And I love that M's classmate googled that in the first place. :)
Hey, speaking of loving OT....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJRIVUOtCzs this was our Miss OTPF pageant from 2008, one of our silly OT contestants was a cheerleader who cheers about OT spirit. :)
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Check it out and also check out Fun & Function (google it!). :) It will be helpful for OT/OT students alike.
One of the things I have been loving lately are mechanical pencils. They are wonderful tools for those students who push too hard on their pencil or their pencil is never sharp. Some teachers only allow sharpening 3 pencils at the beginning of the day and then that is it. Unfortunately, the students I see need sharp pencils! This also isn't as nice to chew on as wood pencils-although if there is a will there is a way!
I also use the rubber tubing at the top of pencils for a chewy section. I used to glue them in when they didn't seem to fit right, however I found just wrapping the pencil with tape can provide enough diameter to make the chewy part stay put.
I love adapted paper and carry it with me practically everywhere. I keep it in a binder tucked in sheet protectors and refill when I am in the office. I also put screening tools in there and freebies off of the HWT website-like the sheet that tells how to form all the letters appropriately.
Planning and scheduling can be very difficult-I work in small school districts so I hit one school district Monday through Thursday. At the beginning of the year I set up a schedule for the students on IEP's and try to work around activities as much as possible. What is difficult is I think in days of the week, so when it is Tuesday and I forgot something on Monday, I am not going to remember it until next Monday-probably when I am already at the school. I just purchased a Samsung Galaxy S and am using for my calendar and notes and whatnot. I still have a hard planner and write things down in there as well.
Regarding OT fieldwork presents: I would be interested to know more about what is normal, from my blog readers. It seems like a lot of students get their educators something at the end of fieldwork (something reasonable). What have you all given as presents historically, and/or do you find it appropriate? I know I bought some OT toys for a pediatric fieldwork (but at my goodbye party they bought me some awesome pediatric toys too!!), exchanged silly creative poems with another fieldwork educator (we are both dorks, what can I say), and um, I don't really remember for my mental health one. I don't think - or okay, I know, I didn't buy any of them gift cards or anything, but maybe I should have. Apparently a lot of students do. Ideas? I think buying or making items for the clinic (small things!!) that you know they will use/be appreciated, is always a winner....plus a thoughtfully written card for the supervisor. But who are we kidding I am sure they all love gift cards. :)
Regarding the fear of not being good enough yet, or that you'll never be good enough: ASKING THAT QUESTION MEANS YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. :) if you have a healthy respect (sometimes fear) of what you don't know, you will always strive to learn more - with continuing education, reaching out to mentors, etc. It means you are far above most people/therapists and that you clearly show the compassion/concern/desire for growth that makes you an excellent clinician. It's true, your skills aren't perfect yet -and won't be for a long time. But with each day you will learn new things and slowly you will see the growth you want. Having a good mentor - or multiple mentors - is huge. Reach out to people you admire in the field. Talk to your co-workers. Read books written by people with the diagnoses you treat. Read community forums for those people. Put yourself in their shoes. Practice with your cooperative friends. Observe people in the supermarket. I promise you, these skills that seem so elusive, will eventually come. Just keep working at them and realize you are doing your best. Also, everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. There are things that you as a new practitioner bring to the table that an experienced practitioner can't - such as fresh eyes, recent education, a (hopefully) still unjaded attitude, a creativity for "out of the box" ideas that mostly comes from not knowing any better/different, and then your own therapeutic value. You may have more compassion, more kindness, more creativity, who knows. A lot of times patients are helped just by having someone there who cares. Realize that half the battle - if not more - is just having the patient feel that sense of value/connection with you. So have faith in yourself. Believe in yourself. Know that as long as you ALWAYS know - even twenty years from now - that you don't know everything and that's okay. Know that we are in a profession that thrives on constant growth and development, and NONE of us, not even the AOTA president or your most revered OT mentor, know it all. There will be periods you feel great about your growth, periods where you are depressed about what you don't know, and periods where you don't care or think you are doing fine. It will all balance out. Just keep growing the way you are now and you will be fine.
PS: I guarantee you will do things in your first year (or years) where you will look back and go WHAT WAS I THINKING OH MY GOSH. Or "I'm such a fraud. They like me and think I am doing a good job but I have no idea what I'm doing." That's okay. Everyone feels like a fraud. Everyone has those movements of retrospection where they realize what all they didn't know. Just keep working to improve your skills, realize you don't know what you don't know, but as long as you follow the mantra of "Do no harm", you'll be okay, and you'll survive those moments of WHAT WAS I DOING?! :)
I am a fourth year OT student at the University of EDITED, currently on my level II Fieldwork. I came across your blog when researching one of my many projects and it was a big encouragement (and nice distraction!) for me. Thank you for writing it! I needed a little humor, and reading many of your postings rung true with my own experiences in OT school! It's so nice to know that you have been there, made it through and are now a successful practitioner (because sometimes we wonder...is it all worth it? Will I make it through, graduate, practice for a while, learn, become awesome, and NOT hurt my patients? lol)
As I have been both excited and challenged by my experiences in fieldwork, I found that I would really love to ask you a few questions, if you wouldn't mind.
First, I am very afraid for my first patients. I have learned treatment planning pretty well in an inpatient rehab setting (as well as can be expected after three months), but I am still struggling with evaluations. I'm missing silly things like tone, or misjudging ROM or balance, things that I am super super annoyed with because I feel like I should know them! Ugh! I really want to believe that I'll be a great OT, but that's hard right now when I can't imagine it, although I've been trying very hard to master skills, (I know I lack clinical reasoning). I'm scared that I won't be able to pick up on all the details I need to to holistically treat my patients and give them the quality care that they deserve, It's so frustrating! Any suggestions for how to improve, and/or what the first few years are like after graduation?
Second, I am trying to get my supervisor a super nice gift after all she's done for me...but I have no idea what to give her. She is a very private person so all I know about her is that she is very practical, enjoys spending a lot of time with her 16 year old niece, and she likes the Beatles. lol. She is a fantastic, very intelligent, experienced OT and I want to show her how much I appreciate all her help and guidance, but I feel like a gift card isn't creative enough, and all the OT related gifts out there are not her type (I spent three hours searching online last night!). Any ideas for an awesome gift for an OT? Right now it's between an Olive Garden gift card, or a pair of movie tickets so her and her niece can hang out, lol. Any better ideas would be appreciated :)
I won't take up any more of your time, but I am so glad I found your blog, wish you all the best, and hope to hear from you soon!
Thanks so much!
JANE DOE, Occupational Therapy Student
Pretty detailed stuff! May need to keep this in mind myself! :)
Sunday, April 3, 2011
A recent online interview with Online College! I wrote my answers up in a hurry (my first week of training for the new job so a little overwhelmed with other stuff to do) so it's not my best stuff but it's still cool! :)
I've accumulated a larggge pile of OT stuff just in the last month so I do feel like I have a lot to share! Maybe I can go through my current bag of OT tools to share sometime soon.
If any of you have stopped by here for the first time because of the OT Practice article, please comment and/or e-mail and let me know. And for those of you waiting for an e-mail from me from recent weeks (like the few I e-mailed promising a reply soon). I haven't forgotten about you, I promise! :)