A Year in the Life of an OT Student

amandaOne of the unique things about D’Youville is that we have so many healthcare programs. As healthcare majors we’re able to collaborate with one another during the Interprofessional Simulation Center Lab. This is a class that brings together 8 healthcare programs (including Occupational Therapy, aka OT), so students can learn about each of the profession’s roles. In celebration of Occupational Therapy Month, I decided to interview one of our third year OT students, Amanda Dragone, about the profession and her journey to become an OT.

What does an OT do?

“An OT works with people across the lifespan to become more independent in the daily activities and occupations that are most meaningful to them.”

Where can you work?

“We can work in a wide variety of settings! OT’s can work in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, schools, and outpatient settings to name a few. OT’s can also work in community based settings such as in health and wellness programs at local community centers, sites that provide pre-vocational training to youth preparing to transition to work, as well as after-school programs and youth centers.”

How long do you have to go to school for?

“To practice as an OT, you need a Master’s Degree, which can be obtained from a 5-year BS/MS program, or an entry-level 3-year Master’s program (which is the program that I am in).”

What are your classes like?

“Our classes start out with the foundational courses such as functional anatomy, and neuroanatomy, along with courses in OT theory, interpersonal skills, and occupational development. Throughout the program, we also focus on research-based coursework as well as courses that familiarize us with insurance policies and professional issues that we will experience when practicing out in the field. Before we go out on our fieldwork, we complete our pediatric and adult and geriatric evaluation and intervention courses that help prepare us with the skills we will need to be successful on our fieldwork placements.”

Did you have to do any major projects?

“Our biggest project is to complete either a thesis or a research project. Two of my classmates and myself are near completion of a research project based on inclusive and cooperative activities for adolescents. When you put so much effort into this type of project, it feels great to see it all come together in the end.”

What are your clinicals like?

“We have two Level I clinicals where we go to a site once a week for seven weeks throughout the semester. This allows us to observe and become accustomed to OT in settings where we will potentially experience our Level II fieldwork. We have two 12-week Level II clinicals where we learn to become more independent in our skills to reach entry-level competency as a therapist.”

What population do you want to work with when you graduate?

“During my fieldwork experiences, I worked with both an adult and geriatric population as well as a pediatric population. I loved working with both populations! Many people come out of fieldwork experiences with a preference for one population over another. This was not the case for me. I also had a Level I experience at a more non-traditional site that taught pre-vocational skills to adolescents. It was great to be able to apply OT skills in an out-of-the box way, and it is something I could see myself doing in the future.”

What made you choose this career?

“After getting my bachelor’s degree in music, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to help people, but also utilize my creative side. A relative who is also an occupational therapist suggested that OT would allow me to do both of those things and more. She was right, and I’m so happy that I pursued OT at D’Youville.”

Amanda trained and ran her first half marathon while in the OT program.

Amanda trained and ran her first half marathon while in the OT program.

What are you most looking forward to after graduation?

“Getting a job and not having to take any more tests! (After boards of course).”

Would you like us to feature your major in an upcoming blog as well? Let us know in the comment section below!

Happy OT month!
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