OT in Motion has Moved to YouTube!

After much thought, I’ve decided to move OT in Motion to YouTube!

Life has changed dramatically since I started posting as a student in OT school. Many of the topics I’d like to discuss work better on a video format. Lately, I’ve been posting mindfulness practices for students, reviewing apps, and creating other OT related content.

I have big plans for the future, including more app reviews, tutorials on using assistive technology, MS resources, and much more. I am excited to be able to merge my passion for video editing and graphic design with my OT practice.

While I will not be taking down the blog, I will no longer be adding content or monitoring this site. I appreciate everyone’s support in my journey through school and as a new practitioner and I hope that you’ll join me on YouTube!

Click here for the OT in Motion channel. You can also find my channel by searching OT in Motion on YouTube. Please leave a comment on my channel or email me at otinmotionblog@gmail.com and let me know what content you’d like to see!

The Intersection of Occupation, Disability, and Technology

Yikes! It’s been over 3 years since I last posted. A lot has happened in that time and I’m finally in a place to start producing new content. I’m trialing a new format – please let me know what you think!

In this first video, I discuss the intersection of occupation, disability, and technology. I share some of my experiences with MS and how we can broaden our perspective to promote participation.

7 Essential Tips for NBCOT Exam Prep

This post is the first of a multi-part series on preparing for the NBCOT exam. In this post, I will be discussing seven essential tips for preparing for the exam. Please comment below if you have additional tips and ideas to share!

7

Know Your Study Style – You’ve taken countless tests in your graduate program – so you should know what study style works best for you. Think back to the tests you rocked and how you studied for them.

  • Are you a sprinter who studies a lot shortly before an exam?
  • Are you a ponderer who studies a little bit each day?
  • Do you need a quiet, distraction free zone to study?
  • Do you need to be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop to focus?
  • Love group study? Hate group study?
  • Flashcard creator? Study guide maven?

Respect your study style! Don’t let anyone tell you that you should be studying a certain way.

Take Practice Tests – It’s one thing to know the brachial plexus and another thing entirely to apply that knowledge in clinical practice. The NBCOT exam is designed to test your clinical knowledge. The best way to practice applying what you know is by taking practice exams. There are a slew of online programs and books with tons of practice questions in them. In a future post, I will discuss which resources I found most helpful in studying for the NBCOT exam. The vast majority of my studying involved taking and reviewing practice tests.

Only Study What You Don’t Know – I know, I know… You’re probably saying, “DUH!” But, I’m the type of person who finds comfort in reviewing all the things! My initial inclination was to sit down and create a study guide reviewing each chapter in the four primary text books that I used in OT school.

Luckily, I stopped myself before going down the path of over-studying. Instead, I took a practice test and wrote a list of questions I got wrong because I lacked factual knowledge. For example, I got a question wrong on my first practice test because I had forgotten the differences in the various levels of the Ranchos Los Amigos Cognitive Scale. With this information, I created a simple chart listing the name of each level and a brief description of what I might see with each level. That way, I wasn’t wasting time reviewing stuff I already knew and spent my energy reviewing only those items that needed refreshing.

Build Up Your Testing Tolerance – Sitting down and completing the clinical simulation section and 170 multiple choice questions was mind-numbing! By the time I got to question 100 I felt like my brain was made of jello and the words on the page no longer made sense. When I built my practice tests, I would always include the clinical simulation portion and would add multiple choice test items in increments of 25. Here’s an example:

  • Week 1: Simulation and 25 Multiple Choice Questions
  • Week 2: Simulation and 50 Multiple Choice Questions
  • Week 3: Simulation and 75 Multiple Choice Questions

I continued this pattern until I was able to complete the simulation and 200 multiple choice questions. I know that’s more than what is on the actual exam, but I like to add some padding knowing that I will experience additional emotional fatigue on testing day.

Schedule Breaks – Take study breaks during the test and between study sessions. I learned that I lost all common and clinical sense after answering 25 questions. Knowing that, I would force myself to take a 2 minute break after every 25 questions that I answered. During this break, I would take a stretch, focus on my breathing, and repeat a mantra to myself. I also took breaks between study sessions. Here’s the schedule I created for myself.

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Notice that I gave myself some days off and broke up my study time throughout the week. I also scheduled my study time when I knew that I would be most focused. Arrange your study schedule so that it plays to your strengths.

Have Fun – Notice in my study schedule that I did not study on the weekends. I went out and had some fun! Meet up with friends who don’t want to talk about the exam. Go hiking, take a yoga class, hang by the pool – do whatever you need to do to relax, enjoy life, and take your mind off of the exam.

Gain Perspective – I’ve met several therapists who did not pass their exam on the first try. These people are amazing therapists who are doing great things for the field of occupational therapy. Not passing the exam on your first attempt says nothing about your skills, knowledge, passion, or ability in this profession. In the big picture of your life, this exam is a small piece that does not have the power to define you.

Please comment below if you have any additional tips that you used when studying for the NBCOT exam!

It’s Been a Year

michael-and-joy-schnepf-farms-peach-festival-queen-creek-az
Michael and I at a peach picking festival. I’m sporting my new cooling vest to help manage my MS symptoms in the heat.

It’s been a year since my last post and a lot has happened.

I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS)…

I graduated from Midwestern University – Glendale…

I passed the NBCOT exam…

I became a licensed occupational therapist in Arizona…

When I was in the process of getting my diagnosis, I decided to stop blogging and focus on my family and friends while finishing school. Having MS has been the toughest road I’ve traveled and I am forever grateful to the family and friends who have stood by me and continue to support me. Taking a year off from the blog has allowed me to focus on my own healing and process how drastically my life has changed.

I don’t know where I’m taking this blog in the future, but I do know that I want to create, connect, and share my passion for OT through my blog. There’s still a lot up in the air right now, and I continue to work on being okay with that. I look forward to staying “in motion” and sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

My Final Post

The end (3)

I have decided to make this the last post to OTinMotion. The reason for this decision is pretty simple and starts back in December. Right before Christmas, I lost sensation in the pads of my left fingers. By the time I went to the neurologist and got an MRI, my left leg was pins and needles. My symptoms are a result of lesions on my cervical spine – small areas of demyelination caused by my immune system attacking my spinal cord. Diagnosing an autoimmune condition like mine can take years, but we have narrowed it down to three potential conditions:

No matter the diagnosis, I am left with decreased sensation in both of my hands and tingling/pins and needles that radiate up my legs and into my chest/back when I walk or something touches my legs. Sometimes, my arms and legs feel like someone has hooked my body up to a perpetual TENS unit – they’re “humming” as I type this post.

I’m hopeful that I have a non-recurring form of transverse myelitis – that my current state is the new normal and I will not have to live in fear of a relapse. I hope that with time, the lesions on my spine will begin to heal. However, this experience has forever changed me.

I have cleared my once heaping plate of responsibility and I’m finding that I prefer an emptier plate. Part of clearing my plate is realizing that I don’t have the energy to maintain this blog. I want to spend my energy on friends and family, healing, and finishing school.

Writing about my experiences in graduate school has connected me with so many amazing people and I am glad that I started on this venture. However, I think it’s time to close this chapter and start a new one.

Thanks to everyone who read and supported this blog!

What I’m Looking Forward to in 2016

Before I get into my main post, I would like to remind everyone to vote in the AOTA elections! Here is a link to the AOTA elections page. You will have to sign-in to access the link to vote: http://www.aota.org/aboutaota/get-involved/elections.aspx

I would like to ask for your support as I am running for the Representative to the Commission on Education position for ASD. If you have any questions for me, feel free to contact me via my blog or through the contact information provided on the candidate information sheet.

Good luck to all the candidates running for office!

What I'm looking forward to in

It was a hectic and surprising end to the year 2015 for me! My husband and I made the decision to sell our house and move to an area of town that we felt better suited us. At the same time, I took on a TA position and started getting more involved with my local association. It certainly wasn’t the plan to have all of these events coverage at once, but I’m on the other side and can safely say I’ve survived the changes. Unfortunately, getting through the end of 2015 meant putting less focus on the blog and more focus on other areas of my life.

I thought it appropriate to start the year off with a list of all the great things I have to look forward to this year!

Graduation – Depending on my last fieldwork rotation, I will finish my program sometime in November or December. I am looking forward to passing the NBCOT exam, getting a job, and having more time to pursue my interests. I am looking forward to those long ago days where I didn’t have homework and could choose the work I brought home.

Getting More Involved – I feel like I’m pretty involved right now, but I want to get more involved with my state and national association. I never had a real community when I was a teacher and I’m looking forward to connecting with other therapists and learn from all the amazing things my colleagues have to teach me!

Focusing on the Blog – As discussed above, I haven’t been able to focus on my as much as I would like. I’m interested in taking it to new areas. Podcast, perhaps?  I’m not sure where this blog is headed, but I intend on keeping it going after I graduate.

Attending Conference – I am hoping that I can arrange to attend conference this year even though I will be in my fieldwork rotation. Conference was such a great experience last year that I’m excited for the opportunity to go back!

This year is a big year for me and I’m excited for all of the opportunities coming my way. What are you looking forward to this year?

Screencast: How to Access the Candidate List and Sample Ballot

VOTE

Happy New Year!

I am running for the Representative to the Commission on Education position for the Assembly of Student Delegates. I hope that you will support me in this pursuit and give me your vote! No matter how you vote, I hope that you take the time to vote for all of the positions.

Many of my classmates have been asking me how to access the candidate list and sample ballot in preparation for voting on January 11th. I have created a screencast to help walk you through the process. However, this video contains information that is for AOTA members only, so I have posted it to the OT Connections Forum: AOTA Elections 2016. You can access the video by clicking on this link. Please note, you will be asked to log-in before accessing the page:

http://otconnections.aota.org/sis_forums/f/7921/t/20237.aspx

Here is a direct link to the elections page. Please note, you will be asked to log-in before accessing the page:

http://www.aota.org/aboutaota/get-involved/elections.aspx

This video contains material for AOTA members only. Please do not share the unlisted Youtube URL. Please link to my blog OTinMotion.wordpress.com or share a link to this forum post. Thank you for your assistance in maintaining copyright!

5 Reasons I’m Thankful for Finding OT

I spend a lot of time discussing my struggles with being in an occupational therapy program – and it has been a long, hard journey. But as I reflect on the craziness of me dropping my career and turning my family’s life upside down, I’m ultimately glad I made the choice to follow my passion, no matter the struggle. For my one (and only) November post, I thought I would sum up the top five reasons I’m thankful that I started on my OT journey.

Giving Thanks!.jpg

People – From classmates, to professors, to OT bloggers and beyond, I’ve met so many amazing people since I started OT school. I love being a part of the larger OT community and sharing a common passion with so many other people.

Opportunity – I am amazed by the number of opportunities I have to get involved at the state and national level. It’s exciting to know that I can continue to be involved throughout my career.

Voice – Starting this blog has been a very rewarding journey for me. I’ve met a lot of great people through my blog and hope to continue to meet many more in the years to come!

Adversity – Graduate school has been a long, hard road and I know it’s not over yet. Being able to organize my life around the crazy that is OT school means that I can overcome just about anything that comes my way.

Passion – Most importantly, I’m passionate about the profession of OT. I can see how OT makes a difference in people’s lives and I’m thankful for entering a career that I can be passionate about. Learning more about OT has changed my life and my world perspective. I believe I’m a better person as I try to incorporate the principles of OT in my life and “be OT.”

Should I Get Pregnant While I’m Still in OT School?

should I

I am sure that I am not the first woman in an occupational therapy program that has to grapple with the question, Should I get pregnant in OT school? 

**Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to process my thoughts about getting pregnant while in OT School. My recommendations and opinions are unique to my personal situation. Second, I don’t think there is a correct answer to this question, just a correct answer for your life, values, and beliefs. I am in no way advocating for or against getting pregnant while in OT school.**

It might be helpful to rewind a bit so you know more about my situation. I turned thirty this past August and I just finished a series of development courses telling me that my ovaries are going to be shot somewhere around the age of 35. Okay. I’m exaggerating. Anyway, my husband and I have been married for six years, we own our home, and we’ve been talking about having kids for awhile. While there is no “perfect” time to have a child, we agreed that it would be best to wait until I finished my program, especially since being in school triggers my OCD and managing my mental health condition takes a lot of work. But waiting has been hard on both of us, especially when one particularly pregnant professor told me how grad school is a great time to have a kiddo. Although, there have been past students who have intimated that, while it’s all worked out, waiting might be a good option. Below is more short list of the pros and cons of getting pregnant in grad school.

Anti Waiting

  1. The school is willing to work with you… up to a point
  2. I have at least 20 classmates who would want to babysit
  3. There’s never really a “right” time
  4. Age(ish)
  5. We want to start a family

Pro Waiting

  1. My body is a toxic mix of stress hormones
  2. I want to start my OT career before starting a family
  3. I need some time of just Michael and I without grad school
  4. I would like some time to get our finances in order
  5. Being involved in leadership positions, completing my course work, and managing my OCD all take a lot of time and energy

Anti Waiting

The main pro baby reason is that my husband and I feel like we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be to have a child. That’s saying a lot because I never feel like I’m prepared for anything. I’m also looking at the waiting timeline and getting a smidge worried about my age. (I get that I’m not THAT old, it’s more of a niggling concern.) We also figure that there’s never really a “perfect” time to have a kiddo, so why not now when I have good health insurance and the school will be willing to work with me. 

Pro Waiting

The reason that I’m ultimately waiting to have a baby until after I graduate and get settled in my career is several fold. First, my body is a toxic mix of stress hormones right now. Being a student basically sets off all of my mental health triggers and I know from past experience that this will calm down once I’m out of school. I also want some time to reconnect with my husband and have our household be at an even keel before rocking the boat again. Finally, I envision myself as a working mom. I know this might change once we have a child and I know I won’t know until the time comes, but I’ve always imagined myself working at least part-time when I become a mom. I have no idea what that looks like now, but I figure it might be easier to transition to part-time work at a place where I’m already established rather than looking for job flexibility as a new practitioner. 

I would love to get people’s opinions and comments on this topic! I welcome any advice from new moms or OTs who struggled with this same choice as well as any comments on how people have balanced their careers and family life. 

5 Ways to Ignore the Chatter: How Post-Exam Talk Can Ruin Your Day (or Week) and What You Can Do to Turn Down the Volume

5 Ways to Ignore the Chatter- How Post-Exam Talk Can Ruin Your Day (or Week) and What You Can Do to Turn Down the VolumeLast week I took what I thought to be a very challenging test. I felt that I had studied appropriately for the test, but there were very few “easy” answers. I had to circle and highlight key words in all the stems and distractors – basically I had to employ every test taking strategy I have ever learned. When I got to the essay section, I had a panic attack. Usually, I prefer essay over multiple choice, but at this point I was so fatigued I didn’t know if I could create a coherent response. When the test was over I felt like I would be lucky to have passed.

Like many students, I tend to talk about the difficulty of the test with other students in order to calm my nerves and gauge how well I did. In the past, especially during anatomy and neuroscience, I tried to make a point of not talking about how I thought I did after an exam. On days where I partake in the post-exam chatter it’s because I have succumbed to the myth that it makes me feel better, but in reality talking about a test always makes me feel more anxious. First, I have a notoriously bad memory for test items. I couldn’t tell you the questions on a test or the answers I gave if my life depended on it. So, as I listen to people talk, I compare what I thought I might have put to what they thought they might have put. Reliable information, indeed. 

Needless to say, after this last test’s post-exam chatter I was convinced I had failed the test. I even wrote a draft of a blog post outlining my feelings about failing and reflecting on how to cope when you’ve failed a test. For a week, all I could think about was this test. There were a few nights where I just laid in bed and ran different scenarios through my mind. All I wanted to know while I waited for my results is if I had passed the test. I didn’t care about As or Bs or Cs. I just hoped for a passing grade. 

I’m sure you can guess where this post is headed… I spent a week of emotional energy on a test that I actually did very well on. However, I failed entirely on the mental health front. In my post, Getting off the A-Train, I listed addressing and maintaining my mental health condition as a core value. Spending a week fretting over a test was not living my core values. I do not want to repeat this experience. So here are some strategies for ignoring the post-exam chatter:

Make a Commitment: Promise yourself that you will not participate in or add to the chatter in any way. For me, this is very difficult. Sometimes I feel like I just NEED to talk about the exam. I have to remind myself that now is not the time or place. It’s much better to wait and talk to a spouse/friend/parent who isn’t in the program so that the conversation is more about how I’m feeling and less about what was on the test. 

Set a Reminder: It’s easy to forget how psyched out you get when you listen to post-exam chatter. Set a reminder on your computer or other calendar to reinforce that post-exam chatter is not something you want to participate in. 

Hide Out: After the exam, don’t go straight to the classroom or any other gathering area where your classmates might be. This strategy will help you avoid overhearing side chatter and help you resist the temptation to join in on the conversation. 

Block It Out: If you must immediately go to another class, listen to music on your headphones to drown out the chatter. Sometimes, I’ll leave my headphones on up to the very last minute to avoid overhearing conversations about an exam. 

Calm Your Inner Chatter: If you have time after the exam or a large break between classes, do a calming activity. Walk around campus, knit or crochet, listen to calming music – whatever it takes. Allow your brain and your body to take a break from the hard work of an exam and show some kindness to yourself.