Two months have passed since the first day of the GU Ruskin c/o 2019 started their level 2 fieldwork journeys! I have found myself really stretching myself in ways I never knew possible and learning so much about being in a non-traditional setting. I decided to do something a little different for this post because I have so much that I want to say. Instead, I did a check-in with one of my fellow OT classmates, Kelsey Rogers. She also made the decision to move for her level 2 fieldwork and she was so willing to share her experience with me when I asked her. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about her experience. Again, thank you Kelsey for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview!

Kelsey Rogers, GU Ruskin, C/o 2019

Where and what is your setting? 

  • St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN 
  • Pediatric oncology (inpatient and outpatient) 

How have you been adjusting to living a new city?

I LOVE living in Memphis. I’ve always loved the state of Tennessee and have been a huge UT Lady Vols fan. Eventually I want to end up in TN when I graduate, whether that’s Memphis or Nashville, we’ll see! So adjusting to life in Memphis for 12-weeks was something that I was looking forward to. This is the first time I have ever lived alone (without any roommates or family) so that was a big move. I love it! I found an awesome studio apartment not far from St Jude so it makes my daily commute pretty easy. I didn’t know anyone in Memphis when I first moved here however in the last 7 weeks I have met so many people including co-workers, other students in the rehab department, people at the gym, in the community, and on Beale Street! Every weekend we try to explore somewhere new, so I am trying to take advantage of my time here. I have yet to find a bad BBQ spot.  

What has your experience been like thus far?

I found out I was selected to complete this Level II in May 2017. I’ve anxiously anticipated this for quite some time now. In addition, for anyone that knows me, knows that I have had St Jude on my mind since I was 7 years old. It’s always held a special place in my heart. My experience at St Jude has been everything I’ve hoped for and more. I never realized the extent of what occurs at St Jude every day until I got here. It honestly made me fall in love with the place even more. What’s unique about my experience is the fact that I get to work in both inpatient and outpatient. I spend one day a week in outpatient and then the other 4 days inpatient. I’ve treated children as young as 3 months old to young adults up to 22. In addition, patients and their families come from all over the world to receive treatment. I’ve treated patients from Singapore, Australia, England, Guatemala, Canada, and Ecuador.

My CI and I cover 5 inpatient floors, including the ICU. I treat a variety of oncology diagnoses including solid tumors such as medulloblastoma, neuroblastoma, and retinoblastoma. We also treat patients going through bone marrow transplants, different types of leukemia, and sickle cell diseases. I really enjoy inpatient due to the fast pace and “think on your feet” kind of atmosphere. It is super intense at times, but I love it. I also like that we get to co-treat a lot with other disciplines, particularly PT. We co-treat more complex neuro-oncology cases for children who have complications following removal of brain tumors. I could go on for hours about my experience, so if anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me – 

What is something that made you think, “this is exactly why I chose OT”?

Every day I’m at St Jude, I am reminded in some way that I chose the right career path. Particularly, I think the biggest thing is watching the children achieve milestones that he/she never imagined possible. The gratitude and appreciation that the families and patients have for OT services make it worthwhile. Nearly every area of occupation is negatively impacted in some way by the different types of radiation and chemotherapy treatments that the children are receiving. It really takes a toll on their bodies. Teaching them different strategies to complete their ADLs independently, helping them regain strength in their arms and hands, playing again, enjoying leisure interests, and remaining successful through school, are just some of the areas that we as OTs can help. For patients who are still considered early intervention, achieving those developmental milestones while inpatient in a hospital are huge. It is often a big concern for families, and rightfully so. As OTs we work closely with the families to develop individualized patient care. 

My favorite thing is walking into a patient’s room on a Monday morning and the patient is so excited to tell me something that they did independently over the weekend after we had been working on it for so long. The pure joy and excitement is something that makes me realize that I chose the right career path. Little do they know the impact that each and every one of them have had on me.  

What is some advice you have for students who are going to be starting their rotations? 

A piece of advice that I would give to students entering into Level II placements would be to embrace the uncertainty. You will learn SO much regardless of the setting you are in. I walk out of work every day with new information, ideas, plans, and understanding of pediatric oncology.  I absolutely love it.  

I think one thing I wish I would’ve realized more would be to prepare. Not physically reviewing notes, studying anatomy, and different coursework, but preparing emotionally. You’re going to be faced with challenging situations regardless of the setting that you’re in. Some days are going to be worse than others. It’s part of the field. Learn how to filter it but also know when it’s okay to show emotions. It’s okay to cry with families, or be frustrated on behalf of a Pt’s outcome. But always know that you’re positively impact them and giving them the best quality of life possible. In the end, that’s what really matters.  

My dad is a PT and also received his Doctorate from Gannon University. A piece of advice that he gave me was to keep a journal. It was something that he didn’t do but wished that he did. I keep a daily journal of things that happen, situations that I’m placed in, and different cases that I’m presented with. As my time quickly passes at St Jude, it is so fun to look back and read about what happened in week 1 as I’m beginning week 8. Not only can you see your own progress, but it’s a keepsake from my experience that I will hold on to forever.  

Hope you all enjoyed hearing about Kelsey’s experience! For those of you on fieldwork now-you got this! Can’t wait to check in again with you all soon.

Sue Ram