Monday, October 15, 2012

Lesson #7: Even if things are going to be bad anyway, they will always be better with a positive attitude and worse with a negative one.

Usually I'm not the positivist of the group. Maybe because I don't like to stop being realistic to think that everything will be alright and then get disappointed. But, one of the most important lessons I have learned through OT so far is that even though it is for sure that things are not going to be ok, being positive really helps. To go through a difficult situation will always be easier with a positive attitude and more complicated with a negative one.

A professor talked to us about his friend who had terminal cancer. Even though the doctors told him he just had a few months of life, he decided to take a positive attitude and to not give up. He knew that he would die from his cancer anyway, but chose to live his last days happy. He lived a lot more than the doctors predicted.

After that story I have been trying to remember this phrase when I tend to go back no my negative thoughts: "Even if things are going to be bad anyway, they will always be better with a positive attitude and worse with a negative one".  With each patient that I get to meet through my OT clasees, I confirm this affirmation. I have seen a patient with "complete damage" to the spinal cord at level C5-C6 stand up and walk, and a ALS patient write books and communicate by just moving  his eyes. In both cases their attitudes had been  key elements. I'm beginning to think  this profession would never stop surprising and teaching me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tips for first year OT Students

When I started this, my second year as an OT student, my group threw a welcome party for the new students. To continue the tradition, each of us gave advice to the new group to help them succeed in their first year.  I had a lot of ideas in my mind, but this was the advice I ended up giving them:

Keep a positive attitude. When you feel overwhelmed, and wish to be out with your friends or family instead of having to study, think of these years as "separated" for your personal and professional development. In the future, you'll feel happy and proud that you really took advantage of this period.

This was the thought that helped me ( and still does) keep up going in those moments of frustration in which I had a thousand things to do and at the same time asked myself: why am I not at the beach or having fun with my family and friends right now? It's true that those moments of fun also come during the semester but, to be sincere, the moments when you feel overwhelmed come more often, so I couldn’t ignore them in my advice.

Now, I want to share some extra tips that helped me and maybe can help other OT students:

1. Never sleep less than 6 hours- You are not going to function well in classes or tests if you don't give a chance to your brain to rest and integrate all the material you studied. If you feel really tired, stop there. Those hours of sleep will help you understand better the material than studying all night without sleeping.

2. Identify your most productive hours and take advantage of them. My productive hours are in the early morning (4am), when there is no one at facebook, nobody calls me or sends me text messages. In two hours of study in the morning I can do more than in 4 in the afternoon.

3. Find your balance- Balance between studying and the rest of the things in your life is important, but it’s also very individual. Find out how much study time you need to do well without comparing yourself to others. Sometimes finding your balance can mean having less leisure time, because maybe in your case, you have too much. In my case, finding my balance means trying to study less and spend more time in my other interests. But, be careful, don’t take for excuse your search of “balance” to waste a lot of time resting…’ll regret it. You can do everything with moderation.

4. Make lists- When I feel like I have too many things to do, making lists usually helps me. I write down everything I have to do for the week, sometimes in priority order. That way, when I’m tired of working with something, I just  look at the list, and start with something else. I am a lot more productive when I make "to do" lists, and the best feeling in the world is to scratch something from it!

5. Love what you do- If you don’t fall in love with the profession, my advice is that you don’t continue in it. If you really love OT, you’ll be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to become the kind of professional that your future clients deserve.

I know that I could have given you many more tips, but right now I have a lot of study to do, so I hope this can help.

With OT love,


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lesson #6: Perfectionism is irrational

So far, one of the courses I have learned the most about life is Occupational Dysfunction. Past semester we started talking about mental health. The first day the professor made an introduction activity in which we had to select a member of the group depending on the question he asked. When he asked who would you choose to assign a very important mission and why?, I selected one of my classmates because I thought she was very responsible and perfectionist. Right away the professor told me that being perfectionist wasn't a good thing and that it was an "irrational thought".  He said that when you try to always be perfect you are never satisfied, because nothing people do is completely perfect.

 That got me thinking. I always knew that it was impossible to always be perfect but have never thought of it as an "irrational thought" or something that could lead people to mental illness. That doesn't mean that you have to lower your expectations or your standards on your own work. I believe that people should always try their best. It just means that we shouldn't give ourselves such a hard time when we make a mistake or when things don't go as we planned. Knowing this will help me become more aware of my future clients behaviors and abilities to manage non-perfect situations.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New beginning

Tomorrow I start my second year as an OT student and I haven't even finished writting about the lessons from the first year yet! I'm excited because this year I will start to take more practical classes about pediatric OT, physical and psychosocial dysfunction. But, at the same time I feel really tired because of the trip and from moving my things to the house I'm staying, so for tonight I can't think about writing lessons. I'll try to catch up in this first days of the semester. OT love for all <3

Monday, July 30, 2012

My commitment to the profession

For the Professional Development class, we had to read the article: The Heart, Mind and Soul of Professionalism in Occupational Therapy (Wood, 2004). It was interesting to learn what the author meant for heart, mind and soul of professionalism in our profession. Here a short summary:

Heart of professionalism- belief that what we do is important for the good of individuals and our society, having a value so special, that money alone can not measure it. This makes doing our job pleasurable and good for ourselves in addition to good for others. In other words, the heart of professionalism is the conviction that our "Good Job" fills our lives with meaning at the same time helping the world.

Mind of professionalism- the application of a body of specialized knowledge unique to the profession. The author states that without the direct experience of how the mind of professionalism nourishes the pleasure and pride for the job, the evidence based practice would be seen as a demand without meaning. The occupational therapists that are less likely to get sick of the heart of professionalism are the ones that have experienced the mind of professionalism as a source of empowerment and professional inspiration.

Soul of professionalism- the authentic connections between the people expressed in the every day particularities. In the job, the soul is expressed through an environment that feels alive and evokes creativity and compromise. It is also seen when the members of the same profession work together to ensure that they are meeting the highest standards of excellence.

After reading the article, the professor asked us to make our own commitment to the profession. Here goes mine: 
I want to be the best Occupational Therapist I can, practice the professional behaviors learned and give always the best of me. So I commit to be a consumer of research and never loose the conviction in the effectiveness of my job. I promise to be willing to work together with other professionals and  provide the best interventions within my possibilities to my clients. 

I hope that some day I can go back to this post and feel proud that I have met this commitment.

Wood, W. (2004).  The Heart, Mind and Soul of Professionalism in Occupational Therapy. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy 58 (3), 249-257.