Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My OT Story: By Kathleen Shanfield

This year, I was honored with the OTAC Practice Award! I was humbled, surprised, excited, and so honored to receive this recognition. I am usually the one “giving” awards and bringing others up to the podium, but what a thrill it is to actually “receive” an award, too! This has truly inspired me to become more involved in my professional organization, OTAC, and to “give” and “receive” all they have to offer. Thanks, OTAC!!  

By: Kathleen Shanfield, OTR/L, MS, ATP

My OT Story: By Jen Ohara

When I was nine, my grandfather had a stroke and became hemiplegic. The doctors said he would never regain movement. Slowly, he began to feed himself and do ADLs. It was because of the dedication and hope of OTs.

  By: Jen Ohara

My OT Story: By Jessica Perez

I volunteered in Vietnam after college and got to see teachers doing OT with their students. I was so moved by the love they showed and practical skills they shared. I hope one day to share OT abroad, to carry on how I first discovered it! 

  By: Jessica Perez

My OT Story: By Rondalyn Whitney

I met a teen who was struggling with 10th grade. He was failing math and science, and because of this had to stop participating in choir and lifeguarding. Working with the school, I helped them see that participation in meaningful activity would help with obligatory activity. With OT tutoring that was differentiated for his learning disability, he not only graduated but went on to a BA degree in neuroscience. And, I have his CDs from his choir’s tour in Europe. 

  By: Rondalyn Whitney

My OT Story: By Monica Ondriezek

The passion and pure love for the profession of each and every OT I have encountered is why this profession has made it to 100 years. I am honored and excited to be a part of a profession with such potential for growth. To another 100+ years of reaching and changing the lives of humans through helping them realize their potential!!  

By: Monica Ondriezek

My OT Story: By Kayla

OT school has connected me with a lot of wonderful supportive people that have allowed me to have a lot of fun while learning. 

By: Kayla

My OT Story: By Gaby Belmonte

I was inspired to start a career in OT when my grandmother was prescribed services. I was a big part in her daily routine. Once I started doing observational hours in OT, my inspiration was reinforced when working with a child who could not walk. After 8 weeks he was up walking and having the time of his life. His laughter was the best reward!  

By: Gaby Belmonte

My OT Story: By Jillian Jones

I love working as an OT in the school system because I know school can be hard, or home life can be hard, and I can be a positive cheerleader in students’ lives. That is why I do it!  

By: Jillian Jones

My OT Story: Michelle

What a small world! Since I have entered OT I have realized what an amazing and connected field this is. I once missed the train and decided I would ride my bike around San Jose for an hour. I found a park, and in the distance an open hula hoop class (hula hooping is my favorite occupation)! I was welcomed into the class and was chatting with a lovely woman about life, explaining I was new to SJSU. We discovered similar interests, and best of all we were both OT students!  

By: Michelle

My OT Story: By Caitlin

With San Jose State students and faculty from the PT Department, I was able to travel to Finland to take seminars with other allied health students from around the world. It was an amazing experience to collaborate with OT students in Finland and learn about their successful healthcare system. We have so much to strive for in increasing healthcare access for those who live in the US and I think the profession of occupational therapy can do so much advocating for our clients and future clients!  

By: Caitlin

My OT Story: Sherry Younesi

When I volunteered at OT facilities and saw the lifelong impact of what an occupational therapist does, it furthered my love and admiration for the field. That, coupled with the amazing faculty I met at CBD in my OTA program, has made me want to make the most impact and inspired me to be the greatest I can be and truly reach for the stars. Let’s BE BOLD!  

By: Sherry Younesi

My OT Story: By Melanie Doi

Working with children at the Blind Children’s learning Center in Santa Ana has inspired me to live life to the fullest and be grateful for everything I have. These children live life every day with a huge smile on their faces regardless of their vision impairment.  

By: Melanie Doi, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I got into occupational therapy thanks to my mentor in the field who inspired me to pursue this degree! I hope to learn and grow into a competent occupational therapist like her!

By: Anonymous 

My OT Story: By Amy

I became an OT to of course help others and didn’t know how much OT would end up helping me. I got diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on my Level 2 fieldwork before I ever took the NBCOT exam. This was initially devastating but in the past six years it has helped me find my passion of neuro rehab. I can relate to patients on another level having been through my own challenges.  

By: Amy 

My OT Story: By Raechal Jacala

I’d like to thank my OT education for giving me the knowledge about occupation across the lifespan. I’ve been able to apply that knowledge every day, whether it be helping my grandma who has dementia or giving my nieces sensory activities to engage in. I can’t wait to learn more throughout my OT career!  

By: Raechal Jacala

My OT Story: By Francette Castilla

One favorite story of mine is from my Level 1 fieldwork site. I got the chance to collaborate with the OT and create a low impact hula dance intervention for a patient who had a stroke. The intervention was client centered in that she was a former dancer who loved dancing. The intervention brought her joy while working on integrating and strengthening her right upper extremity through dance. 

  By: Francette Castilla, OTS 

My OT Story: By Carol Huang

I completed my undergrad degree and didn’t know what to do with my life. A random afternoon, I was on Facebook and read a status about my friend and her OT program. I researched what OT was, and my discovery of OT started there. Thank you Facebook!  

By: Carol Huang

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I didn’t know how wonderful OT is or what it was when I moved here from the Philippines. I am so glad I was able to learn about OT and now I am on my way to becoming an Occupational Therapist. I’m so excited! I love OT!!

By: Anonymous 

My OT Story: By Shelby

After working with children as a preschool teacher I saw the wonderful work of OT. That’s when I knew I wanted to help children and people of all ages succeed in everyday living through meaningful occupations. OT Rocks!! 

By: Shelby

My OT Story: Phoebe Yam

During my Level 1 fieldwork I was at a pediatric clinic. One of the children I saw was born without a corpus collosum. The first day I met him he was working on independent sitting and trunk control (at 10 months old). He made so much progress that by the last day of my fieldwork I got to see him crawl on his own for the very first time! His face was so happy and his mom looked so proud of her son. All the hard work the OT and family did really paid off. 

By: Phoebe Yam

My OT Story: By Bao Hoang

My name is Bao and I am currently a student at West Coast University in Los Angeles. The faculty and student body have been wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my OT journey.

By: Bao Hoang, OTS

My OT Story: By Emily Devey

I was first inspired to be an OT after attending Special Camp and meeting an OT (Jiane) that took me under her wing. That week taught me to appreciate the simple things in life and be joyful for the present! 

By: Emily Devey

My OT Story: By Alyssa Locso

When I was in college, I was figuring out what I wanted to do. I went to the career center and saw a binder called “Occupational Therapy”. I opened the binder and read “Occupational therapists help people to live their lives to their fullest potential.”  After I read that, I knew this is what I wanted to do.   

By: Alyssa Locso

My OT Story: By Anita Niehues

I was fortunate to work in an early intervention program seeing a little boy who had not yet developed speech. He and his family were dealing with a condition that created extra cerebrospinal fluid. The family has many specialists coming to their home and they made regular trips into a big city to have tests and drain the fluid. One day we were just goofing around with foam letters and “launching” them from a busy box. The little boy hit his mom in the face and we all broke into laughter. The mom said she couldn’t remember the last time they had laughed. It seemed to offer a break in a long, serious path they had been travelling.   

By: Anita Niehues

My OT Story: By Irma

Finding my calling for occupational therapy has been a journey I will never forget! Volunteering for different hospitals and facilities has opened my eyes to the many amazing things OT has to offer for their clients! My volunteer supervisor taught me that OT can do great things for people of all ages, diagnoses, and stages of life!!   

By: Irma 

My OT Story: By Anonymous

One of my proudest moments as an OT: I was able to get an eighteen year old student with CP to utilize the toilet for bowel and bladder. No more diapers… after eighteen years!! Whoo!! OTs have perseverance!!  

By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I started in PT but when I moved to the US my only option then was going to OT school since at that time OT was an undergrad program and PT was a graduate program. My initial career plan was to finish OT then pursue PT, but because I fell in love with OT I stayed with it. OT is very unique and it just made sense to me what OT does for patients. There is a lot of room for creativity which is great. I love OT!   

By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Jenna Gordeu

Love giving workers manual therapy, custom orthotics, and ergonomic support at Dorada Foods, meat processing plant manufacturing McDonald’s pork and beef products!  

By: Jenna Gordeu

My OT Story: By Erin

I began working with a student when he was three years old because the speech therapist couldn’t get him to come out from under the table or take off his hat. I worked with him and his family for seven years! He made so much progress that he is now participating in theater productions and has the lead role as Lion in “The Wizard of Oz”. He invited me to watch and it moved me to tears! He was amazing and coordinated!!  

By: Erin

My OT Story: By Future OT

I was first introduced to occupational therapy in 2008. The pediatric clinic was featuring a zip line. At that moment I knew OT was for me. The more I learned, the more interested I became. Now nearly ten years later I am finally pursuing my Masters. I can’t wait to be an OT!!  

By: Future OT

My OT Story: By Bryant Edwards

I first started working with “Jonas” when he was about three years old. Jonas had autism, was non-verbal, and had difficulty participating in most activities. I remember that Jonas always gave me a workout- he’d frog hop across the room, swing and spin with reckless abandon. He was always loving, but always moving. I felt I struggled working with him, until I received a letter from his mom thanking me because that year (age five) he was finally able to sit on Santa’s lap for a photo!!  

By: Bryant Edwards, OTD, OTR/L

My OT Story: By John R.

Working in occupational therapy is a great way to utilize creativity, hard work, and care to help those in need. My goal is to use all the skills and knowledge I’ve obtained from grad school to assist all individuals regain their independence, as well as to advocate for the profession.  

By: John R.

My OT Story: By Monica Kim

Whichever niche or specialty OTs work in, they all have the general goal of being client-centered and increasing their clients’ functionality. It’s amazing to see the field of OT grow… I believe OT will help make this world a happier and better place. 

By: Monica Kim

My OT Story: By Tern Tonucki

I had a 6 year old outpatient client who couldn’t participate in soccer due to sensory issues. With the use of several sensory processing techniques, the client was able to participate. On the day of discharge from OT, the client saw this OT’s photo on the wall and said to mom- “that’s the lady that fixed me!”.  

By: Tern Tonucki

My OT Story: By Matt Scrabis

I was working in the mental health field but had lost interest in pursuing a graduate degree in social work. I didn’t know what to do. That was when I discovered occupational therapy. I was drawn to its diversity, the fact that I could still work in mental health if I wanted to, and that I could still work directly with clients while earning a good living. 

By: Matt Scrabis

My OT Story: By Kaysha Dorsey

I’m really interested in OT advocacy and I went to the OTAC Conference “Harness Your Political Power” seminar. I learned a lot and it was really inspiring.  

By: Kaysha Dorsey

My OT Story: By Sonja Kramer

I became interested in OT when I was sixteen years old and looking for a career in which I could combine my love of science, creativity, and people. Watching clients open up and respond to therapy as OTs built rapport with them was really inspiring. After connecting with a patient over our mutual love of baseball and watching her blossom, I was hooked!  

By: Sonja Kramer

My OT Story: By Ariana Donahue

I love the compassion and caring I see in Occupational Therapy. It is a refreshing change from my experience with other medical care models. I appreciate health and healing through client-centered practice.  

By: Ariana Donahue

My OT Story: By Heather Penley

I was enchanted by an OT in 1995 when my oldest was in kindergarten. I raised my kids while working in a K-12 school setting and have finally returned to school to pursue an OTA degree. I’m super excited to join this profession!

By: Heather Penley, COTA

My OT Story: By Javier Jimenez

I worked in social services for ten years before entering the San Jose State OT grad program. The stories of families receiving OT services while I worked in social work inspired me to pursue OT as a career.  

By: Javier Jimenez

My OT Story: By Anonymous

As a student many years ago I had a patient who had a stroke. He was a cook at his own restaurant. He was completely flaccid on the left side. As I worked with him and his family, he gained strength and spirit. Three months later he was back at his restaurant cooking! 

 By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Matt

I was inspired to pursue a career in OT for many reasons, one of which was the amazing experience that a family member had with her occupational therapist. The therapist’s skill in holistic and meaningful rehabilitation made a huge difference in the quality of my family member’s life. It is OT’s emphasis on both the art and science of therapy that inspired me to make it MY profession.  

By: Matt

My OT Story: By Anonymous

My cousin is a veteran of the war in Iraq. He was discharged due to PTSD. He worked with an OT from Texas. She helped him to find a way to adapt back to life with his family. She inspired him to go back to school and pursue his passion for graphic arts. He continues to struggle but is doing well. 

By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Anonymous

Veterans with PTSD completing a SCUBA diving certification and provided with mindfulness strategies enabled them to be more “occupied meaningfully” with their time and improve their family and community relations. This community project with a non-profit organization allowed OT to shine enough to have these veterans come out of their shells using mindfulness techniques OT taught them for daily living.  

 By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Bill Wong

OT has given me not only a career but improved my quality of life. I say that because I am an autistic OT and I have used OT services during my time in OT school. Through OT interventions, I was able to improve my social skills. Because of that, I now am a globe-trotting OT talking about the distinct values of occupational therapy. Also, I am giving back to the OT community by serving in the AOTA Representative Assembly and being featured in two TED Talks!  

 By Bill Wong, OTD, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Lora Woo

Over a quarter of a century ago, I had the privilege of working with a teenager who sustained a C3 traumatic spinal injury. We’ve kept in touch over the years, now decades. He’s graduated from college, purchased and renovated his home for accessibility, and participates in leisure activities with family and friends. Now as I teach as an adjunct, he has been a guest speaker in my class, sharing his experience living with a spinal cord injury and its impact on his occupational engagement.  

By: Lora Woo, OTD, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Lola Nelson

When I first met my patient “Cindy Lou” in the inpatient rehabilitation unit she was so weakened and debilitated that she was unable to lift her head from the pillow. One of our first OT sessions was working on compensatory strategies to move her head while in bed. Today she saw me from the end of the hall in the outpatient clinic and ran to give me a hug!   

By: Lola Nelson, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Michele Berro

I happened upon OT somewhere on my path to becoming a social worker and due to the soft spot in my heart for kids with developmental disabilities. OT was a perfect fit with my social justice leanings, my belief in intrinsic motivation, and my personal value of daily routines and meaningful activities. How could this awesome profession be hidden from my view until my last year of college?! I couldn’t wait to immerse myself in everything occupational therapy! I enrolled in the OTA program at LACC while finishing my senior year at UCLA. I graduated from UCLA and LACC the same June and immediately went to work as an OTA while simultaneously taking prerequisites for the Master’s program in OT at USC. I started my OT career in mental health and loved it! After several years I switched to acute rehab and loved that too! I have had the opportunity to work as staff OT, supervisor, academic instructor, and OT director. I finally found my way to Rancho – a place like no other. The history, the mission, the patients and staff are truly inspirational!! What a privilege! As we celebrate our 100th anniversary I thank our courageous founders for conceiving such a worthy profession, one I continue to believe in after nearly 40 years of practice! What luck to have found OT, a career I’ve always considered a calling rather than a job! Here’s to the next 100 years. Long live OT!!    

By: Michele Berro, OTR/L

A Tribute to an OT Pioneer: By Michael Davis and Diana Su-Erickson

A Tribute to an OT Pioneer. Miss Edwina M Marshall started her journey in our profession by receiving the very first scholarship given by the New Jersey Rehabilitation Commission, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in OT in 1953, and later working for five years as an OT. She was approached by leadership in the Adventist Healthcare System and named Department Chair at Loma Linda to create the OT program which opened in 1959. She knew that higher education was important in academia and later obtained a Master’s degree from USC in 1964. One of the many talents she possessed was her ability for scholarly writing. She wrote several syllabi used at the LLU campus and at campuses throughout the US as few traditional textbooks existed.

Miss Marshall knew the significance of OT in clinical services “To Make Man Whole” and established the professional services known today at Loma Linda University Health. She wrote and received state grants in the early 1970s that resulted in the creation of two mobile units for home services throughout the Inland Empire. During her tenure at LLU, she was recruited as a consultant in the development of six OT programs in the US and Japan. She has been a mentor and educator to hundreds of OT students.

In 1985, for her exceptional work and contribution, Miss Marshall was recognized as a “Fellow” by the AOTA. She was an advocate for those with physical handicaps, serving on many local and regional advisory committees to implement solutions encircling the tenets of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 1992, she was honored with the OTAC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Miss Marshall retired in 1993 after thirty-five years as a Department Chair at LLU. Her colleagues recognized her unparalleled contributions to the OT profession and granted her Emeritus Professor status. In 2014, she was nominated as a founding member and distinguished leader into the “Leaders and Legacy Society” of the AOTF. She has spent her lifetime as a maverick, leader, and visionary for OT. Submitted by Michael Davis & Diana Su-Erickson

By Michael Davis and Diana Su-Erickson, OTR/L

My OT Story: Lola Nelson

When I first met my patient in the inpatient rehabilitation unit, she was so weakened and debilitated that she was unable to lift her head off the pillow. One of our first OT sessions was working on compensatory strategies to move her head while in bed. Today she saw me from the end of the hall in the outpatient clinic and ran to give me a hug! 

B: Lola Nelson, OTR/L

My OT Story: By Anonymous

My favorite OT moment happened working Home Health with an elderly woman who had severe RA. I helped set her up to be able to do a past meaningful activity of praying. She was so thankful and she brought up the residential staff to see what she was doing. 

By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Taylor New

As an OT student, my favorite memory was working at a skilled nursing facility and becoming very close to a patient I worked with. She loved to color in a coloring book to strengthen her fine motor skills. At the end of my time there, the patient gave me pictures colored just for me! I felt very special and fulfilled.   

By: Taylor New, OTS

My OT Story: Rachel Keefer Zec

While volunteering at the VA in preparation to apply to OT school I met an inspiring OT, Julia. She showed me how to interact with clients, build rapport, and think outside the box. Before I started I was still on the fence to whether I wanted to pursue a career in OT, but Julia’s passion, ability to work with clients, and calm demeanor solidified my decision. She takes time out of her day to put the clients first.  

By: Rachel Keefer Zec, OTS

My OT Story: Monica Soriano

As a student my favorite OT moment was during my level 1 fieldwork at a SNF. One of the residents was extremely motivating. She was about 85 years old and was always motivated and prepared to do OT each day. She would start the session doing the bicycle and would always make it her goal to do 100% during the activity. She was determined to get discharged and return to her previous home and continue living her independence granted by OT.   

By: Monica Soriano, OTS

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I was a level 1 fieldwork student in a hospital. My patient was in his 70s, post-stroke. He had a favorite occupation- playing Mah Jong! As a treatment idea, I asked the patient to stand and stack Ma Jong tiles while I facilitated using NDT techniques. After the treatment, I asked my CI how I did and she said “okay” but my patient asked why he had to stack the tiles. I realized that I just used the activity to facilitate and completely overlooked what it meant to the patient. It was then devoid of meaning, and not an occupation. 

By:  Anonymous

My OT Story: By Cindy Garcia

As a level 2 fieldwork student I was in a locked psychiatric unit. One of the male residents had depression. He remained in bed, in a darkened room, buried under his covers, all day and night except to go to the dining room. Every day I invited him to groups. Eventually he started talking to me when I invited him. By the time I left he was coming out of his room and sharing family pictures with me. I heard he was able to discharge, reintegrating into the community after I left. It was very motivating to be a small component in his recovery and return to the community!   

By: Cindy Garcia, COTA/L, CLIPP   

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I had a referral of a new client I had actually worked with 2 years earlier. When evaluating her at her home, at one point she ran into her room and brought out three activities she had done with me in the past. I was touched that she kept them and continued to use them. 

By: Anonymous

My OT Story: By Anonymous

I was working in a county hospital where many patients presented with a long history of life challenges prior to admission. One patient had been without permanent housing. He survived a stroke, reclaiming ambulation and most of his ADLs. He lived off the streets by fishing at a pier and gathering scraps from restaurants. As part of OT we planned all of it- traveled to the ocean, fished off the pier, returned to the hospital to clean, prep and cook the fish. That was our lunch that day. He was proud to offer me food! I helped him advocate to discharge to the “home he knew and wanted- the streets. He was of sound mind to choose it and did not want a SNF or any other options. He was grateful his autonomy was regarded with respect. I then knew that patient-centered care starts and ends with the parameters the patient sets. The feeling of restoring emotional and social independence as extensions of functional independence was unforgettable!    

By: Anonymous