The Office of Career Development is excited to introduce our blog to the Alvernia University community. We’ll offer relevant career content, insider information from alumni and employers, perspective from fellow students, and; of course, tips and tricks to maximizing our services that help you showcase your best professional self. Join us on this new adventure – and who knows, we might be asking YOU to be a guest blogger!
Our first post is written by 4th year Occupational Therapy student Career Development Peer Editor Kat Demaisip.
Since the start of the pandemic, my fieldwork experiences as an occupational therapy student (OTS) have changed drastically. During the spring 2020 semester, I began my last level I fieldwork rotation via telehealth. Because of COVID-19 circumstances, I co-lead virtual exercise sessions for Dayspring Homes, Inc., a local organization that cares for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in group homes. Pre-pandemic, my group members and I would have driven to the different group homes on a weekly basis and interacted with them on a more hands on level.
At first, I was disappointed with not being placed at an in-person site with a pediatric population. I wanted that experience so I could have a more well-rounded understanding of occupational therapy. Nonetheless, I made the best of my circumstances and embraced my strange yet interesting telehealth experience. Together, my group and I were able to assess the individuals’ different interests, abilities, and deficits and create fitness activities to best fit their needs. Promoting client-centered practice, especially in the midst of a pandemic, is extremely important. Many people have expressed to me how difficult their lives have become, not being able to follow their usual routines and instead having to learn different ways of living. Implementing weekly exercise sessions motivated the individuals to become more active. In a time of major adjustment, we were able to establish structure in their routines and promote fitness in a fun, positive manner.
As for my first Level II fieldwork rotation, I began my 12-week internship in early January. I am currently assigned at WellSpan Surgery and Rehabilitation Hospital in York, PA. Since I have arrived, I have come to learn and adapt to the many changes the facility has enforced because of COVID-19. I was originally supposed to be in an inpatient rehab setting, but prior to my start date, the entire hospital had transitioned to acute care. Many of the patients in the post-surgical unit, where I first started, are the overflow from the neighboring York Hospital. While at fieldwork, I am reminded everyday to be cautious and follow safety guidelines and preventative health measures. For example, common surfaces and equipment used in the therapy gym need to be disinfected regularly and after every patient use. There are also Velcro stickers that are red (dirty) on one side and green (clean) on the other. They are placed all along the gym to signify which surfaces/items need to be disinfected. This is to prevent further disease transmission, in the event of a coronavirus outbreak. Prior to entering the hospital, we need to take our temperature and answer screening questions. It is also mandatory that we wear surgical masks and goggles when interacting with patients. Treatment sessions have changed, as the patients in the post-surgical unit are only seen for as much time as we think they need. The sessions are mostly held in patients’ rooms, due to social distancing requirements.
The most recent change I am undergoing is transitioning from the post-surgical unit to the rehabilitation unit. In the post-surgical unit, my supervisor and I treated patients who recently had a major surgery (e.g., knee, spine, hip). Now, we will be working with people who have general debility and/or a combination of chronic conditions preventing them from going home safely. I have learned a tremendous amount in a short deal of time. Being able to work in two different units allows me to get twice the amount of exposure as I would in a normal fieldwork rotation.
All in all, being a Level II fieldwork OTS during the pandemic has taught me to be resilient. Every day, I must be willing to adapt to the unpredictable yet engaging schedule and welcome change. Learning the ins and outs of occupational therapy in an acute care setting has taught me more than just providing client care but also to value and explore the many intricacies of the healthcare field.