Upon getting back to campus after being away for 6 months on clinical rotations for the GU Ruskin OTD program, I was pleased to see how much the 1st & 2nd year students accomplished and really took care of things on campus while my cohort was away! The GU Ruskin SOTA group have been involved with volunteering in the community and fundraising  and it is very apparent how much effort has been put in to make great things happen in the Ruskin community. As the 2nd year OTD students prepare to move onto their clinical rotations this summer, they decided that they would benefit greatly from hearing some stories and wisdom from the 3rd years. The Graduate Student Association (GSA) and SOTA worked behind the scenes for weeks to find a location, organize paperwork, select individuals for the panel, prepare questions, budget for refreshments/light snacks, and delegate other roles to make sure the event could be carried out. On February 7th, 2019, all the hard work paid off and a wealth of knowledge was shared.

After individuals from all 3 of the GU OTD cohorts gathered in the Occupations Lab for snacks and refreshments. This was the first time that I can recall that we all were together in one room since the semester began, so it was very exciting to see new faces. After everyone got settled in and panel members found their seats, GSA member Jeffrey Sargent and GU SOTA President, Emmeline Talbot started the event off with an introduction and thank-you to everyone in attendance and for all of the help to make the event possible. 1st year student, Bobby was the MC for the event and made sure we all stayed on schedule. Thanks, Bobby! 3rd year panelists then introduced themselves and named where they completed their clinical rotations and what their favorite memory was. OTD student, Kelsey Rogers, mentioned that her favorite memory from fieldwork was simply, “St. Jude”. She had such an amazing time there with all the kids that she wouldn’t be able to explain in just 30 seconds. The other panelists, Elizabeth Gendernalik, Rebecca Constant, Jessica Boyd, August Mezzio, Scott Povlak, Kara Mihalic, Rebecca Himes, Mallory Rickloff, and myself continued to introduce ourselves and described the settings we were in-from acute care to early intervention and from locations all over the U.S. from Tampa to Las Vegas!

During the weeks leading up to the event, 1st & 2nd year students submitted questions to the GSA and SOTA that they had about the fieldwork journey. Each panelist answered a question from the list and shared their answers. Rebecca Constant was asked, “How long did it take until you were on your own caseload?” She responded that it varies due to setting and supervisor, but it also depends on the type of learner you are. Some people such as herself like to jump into things while others need more time to observe and take everything in. There is no right or wrong approach, but knowing yourself and how you learn is key.

Kara Mihalic was asked when she started to feel more confident during her experiences in Erie, Pennsylvania for both of her rotations. She responded that the more interactions she had with her clients, the more confident and comfortable she felt.

One big topic that came up was regarding work-life balance. Many of the panelists contributed their views on this question. Some students had flexible schedules, while others didn’t. Some responded that they were too tired when they got home to have energy to go to work, while others were able to hold a job on the weekends to help with finances during rotations. One panelist mentioned that if you are going to work while on rotations, make sure that it’s something you enjoy. Other hot topics included housing. Some students were able to continue living in the area, while others went home and stayed with families, and others like myself chose options such as Air BnB for one of my rotations.

After we we all answered the questions from supervision to SOAP notes and book reccomendations, there was still some time left over for the 1st & 2nd years to ask any other questions that weren’t on the list or discussed. All of the discussions were very valuable and if I could list all of the questions and answers here, I definitely would! It was great to see the enthusiasm and the desire to want to be prepared. Many of us who already completed rotations learned that sometimes, we can’t be prepared for everything and that there is always more to learn.

If anyone would like more information on questions asked and responses shared, please feel free to reach out!

As I close this out, I would just like to say thank you again to those who worked behind the scenes to make this event happen and for looking up to the 3rd years for wisdom and advice.

1st years- you’ll be preparing for fieldwork sooner than you think and I am proud of you for being proactive and wanting to learn more! It was great getting to meet some of you.

2nd years- you guys know I am so proud of you for all the hard work you have put in to your coursework along with SOTA/GSA. I hope that the fieldwork forum allowed you to feel more confident and ready to start your rotations this summer. You all are going to be great. Enjoy every moment, because it will fly by and I will miss you guys so much.

3rd years- thanks for giving the cohorts below us guidance and the comfort in knowing that they will all be ok, just like we were! It was super fun being on the panel.

Shoutout to Janet, Emmeline, & Jeff for the hand-picked doughnut and always including me in all that you do.

Take care and stay tuned for more GU Ruskin updates!

Sue Ram