Hello friends! It has been quite some time since I have blogged and I apologize! Since last posting, I have completed my second Level II rotation in Galveston, TX, and am a semester, or one mission trip, 12-week professional rotation and capstone project, away from graduation! May 13, 2017—save the date!
I had a wonderful experience in Galveston, and it all began with a road trip with my best friend and pooch. We made it a point to spend some time in ‘Colorful’ Colorado as it is somewhere we have been considering moving after I graduate. After spending several days in Denver and Colorado Springs hiking and experiencing the beauty of the state, we decided we will, indeed, be moving there next summer with our pets in tow! If you know of any OT or CNA jobs, just give us a holler 😉 We have our sights set on Boulder area contingent upon finding jobs there.
After close to 2,000 miles of driving, Lena’s first trip to In-N-Out Burger (a major milestone in her adult life) and hours of terrible carpool karaoke, we somehow managed to arrive in Galveston without killing each other. While in Galveston, I stayed with one of the sweetest human beings I have gotten the chance to know. Lou, whom I lovingly referred to as my ‘hip roomie,’ was truly that and more. She was the most tech-savvy 80-year-old I have ever met in addition to being so witty, generous and kind. We had so much fun living together and I learned so much from her: she is truly an adoptive grandma to me and I’m excited to visit Galveston again and catch up with my ‘hip roomie.’
My experience at the University of Texas Medical Branch outpatient therapy clinic was not as I had anticipated it would be when I had originally requested to be placed there last fall… When first assigned this rotation, I was gearing up to learn more about lymphedema management and outpatient neuro rehabilitation, but due to staff changes, my rotation was switched to outpatient hand therapy. Having previously completed a Level IA rotation in hand therapy for a week in Arizona last year, I wasn’t sure about this change, but flexibility is a virtue as an OT student.
To say I was a bit nervous to put my rusty knowledge of upper extremity anatomy and conditions to use would be an understatement. I made it a point to review various upper extremity conditions and interventions to use with patients nightly in order to get acquainted with this setting and provide the most patient centered care. In addition to reviewing conditions and interventions, I spent my evenings studying for the practice board exam that I took (and passed, thank goodness!) in November.
During my time in this setting, I learned a lot about how to further refine my documentation skills, devise appropriate and meaningful intervention plans, fabricate splints and independently lead patient-centered treatment sessions. My absolute favorite part of the rotation was getting to know my lovely patients. I got to know my patients quite well as there was plenty of time to converse while providing therapy during 35-45 minute treatment sessions. I was so blessed to be presented with the opportunity to work with individuals from all walks of life and with all types of personalities. I believe that as therapists, we have a lot to teach our patients, but they have so much to teach us! I worked with prisoners at the Texas Department of Corrections or ‘TDC’ hospital on several occasions and found this experience to be rewarding as it provided me with an opportunity to exercise unconditional positive regard and provide patient-centered care to individuals whose backgrounds may have been darker than most. These individuals were regarded as patients, and their health was of precedence when we worked with them. Their status as prisoners was not alluded to during our sessions and we never knew the specifics of their criminal history.
When treating patients ‘on the outside’, it was truly inspiring working with motivated patients and seeing them improve in therapy… seeing individuals progress towards being functional and returning to full independence in their lives was so rewarding. Writing out discharge summaries or updated plans of care where I noted increases in range of motion or strength never went without celebration—all gains, both big and small were always so exciting to see as it meant my patients were achieving their goals for therapy. I continue to be awestruck by how meaningful it is to help others the way I can as an OT, and I can’t begin to express how much I look forward to doing this on a daily basis, as a licensed professional.
During my time in Texas, I made a lot of wonderful memories. It was so fantastic to make new friends, get quality time in with old ones, and learn so much in the therapy clinic from my clinical instructor, rehab team and patients. I would encourage all OT students to travel somewhere new during at least one of their rotations. Spending time in southwest Minnesota, Texas, and soon, the Dominican Republic will only add to my appreciation for diversity and help me to become a more well-rounded therapist.
Thank you for reading about my experience! Next stop: the Dominican Republic for 3 weeks, then the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home in Omaha, NE, for 12 weeks where I will be working with individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease utilizing a sensory room, implementing the Memories in the Making painting program and *hopefully* incorporating a bit of animal-assisted therapy. The adventure continues and I can’t wait to share it with you 🙂