OT school is hard work. And life outside of school doesn’t exactly stop.
To thrive in OT school, you do need to keep your nose to the grindstone.
But, there is also wisdom in leveraging the best occupational therapy resources out there.
It has been 6 years since I was in OT school. I remember those years as the busiest of my life.
In retrospect, I was entrenched in survival mode and did not invest time in figuring out how to simplify and streamline processes.
This post is an attempt to gather all of the best occupational therapy resources for OT and COTA students in one place.
How to Stay Organized
Please, don't be like me.
I paid for my disorganization in school for years afterwards. I found myself hauling boxes of scattered papers and disorganized notebooks each time we moved because I wasn't sure what was important.
And forget about finding something to reference when I actually needed it!
Here are some practical organizational strategies I have collected from forums over the years:
- Buy 3 inch binders for each course to organize all of you papers, handouts, Powerpoints, etc.
- Tab out your Power Points using the dividers with reinforced holes and erasable tabs. (This can be done the night before the class so you can hit the ground running)
- Also buy a folder for each class to keep returned work/tests/other important documents to refer back to.
- Get Google Drive and keep all digital documents organized.
- Buy lots of notecards and highlighters!
- Buy a daily planner. (Now in my professional life, I love the Get to Work Book. If only I had found it sooner!)
How to Improve Your Studying
This is the nose to the grind stone part.
But, you can also leverage these practical strategies to set yourself up to study well.
Here are some tips, I've gathered from fellow practitioners:
- Do your notes for anatomy on graph paper as drawing the material can help tremendously.
- Take handwritten notes as often as possible vs typing. Helps to learn and maintain the info.
- Record every class and I mean every single class. Then listen to them constantly esp while driving (This must be done with permission from professor.)
- Take the VARK Assessment to determine your learning style and study strategies.
- START STUDYING THE NBCOT EXAM NOW! Make flash cards and as each course is taught, pay attention to HOW particular questions are worded
Here are some other resources I have found:
- OT Flashcards- Quizlet
- Tips for Surviving Anatomy Lab- OT in Motion
- Learn How to Work in a Group- Gotta Be OT
- The OT Practice Framework Abbreviated- Miss Awesomeness
How to Improve Your Writing
In OT school, you will find yourself undertaking much more technical writing than you did in your BA program. The amount of writing only increases when you become a practitioner. You will have to write efficiently and accurately.
I cannot imagine life without my Grammarly subscription. For $11 a month, it checks all of my writing, including emails, Facebook posts, and blog articles.
Citation Machine has come in handy to give a starting point in creating references.
If you haven’t read the book “On Writing Well,” I highly recommend it for general writing style guidance.
How to Connect with Fellow Students and OT Practitioners
The OT network you establish in school will be one of your biggest assets as you head into practice.
6 years after graduation, my classmates are often still my first phone call if I need to talk through something.
If there isn't a Facebook Group (or some other group communication option) set up for your class already, take the initiative to do it!
I also recommend joining the Occupational Therapy Students: Get Connected Facebook group, which is an international group.
As far as connecting with, current practitioners, I outlined some of the most popular groups in this post: Social Networking with a Purpose: A Guide for OTs.
How to Stay Abreast of Therapy and General Healthcare Trends
Your success as an OT will depend on your ability to navigate the larger health care system and to stay abreast of its constant evolution.
Don't get OT tunnel vision.
Start habits now of keeping up with general health care trends.
Here are some of my favorites avenues to do so:
How to Deal with Frustrations
After my first year of OT school, I was ready to quit.
I was frustrated and really didn’t find a good outlet other than talking to my parents. If you are dealing with frustrations, talk to fellow students and professors. And again, don't underestimate the value of looking for online support.
Whatever you are frustrated about there is a likely an online conversation happening about the topic.
Here are some examples of bloggers tackling tough issues:
- Speech to Occupational Therapy Students and Parents: Ways You Will Be Paid- ABC Therapuetics
- 5 Signs You’re Burnt Out on OT School and How to Get Back into the Groove- OT in Motion
- What Needs to Change About OT School?- OT Potential
How To Thrive in Fieldwork
After helping supervise students, I now have a new appreciation for the challenge of quickly learning the ropes to a new place and navigating the supervisory relationships.
Lean in on your aforementioned support networks.
Here are some FW Resources to help you along the way:
- Articles on Fieldwork- Student Pulse
- Answers to Your Fieldwork Questions- AOTA
- 10 Tips for Navigating a Non-Traditional Fieldwork
Side note: I recently made this OT Fieldwork Manual if you show up at your site and realize they don't have one!
How to Prepare for the NBCOT Exam
Ultimately, school is preparing you for the NBCOT exam. NBCOT has an awesome suite of resources to assist you when that time does come.
OT Miri will help you arrive to this point:
Managing Your Finances
Managing your debt should technically start before OT/COTA school even begins, and it certainly should trail off while you are in school.
Gotta Be OT has a good list of steps you can be take while you are in school to secure funding.
To keep your eye on the big picture, here is my post on occupational therapy and student debt.
Start Thinking Ahead to the Job Hunt
I had my first job lined up before I even headed into to my second fieldwork placement.
This is a unique circumstance, but honestly it is never too early to get a pulse on the job market!
Check out my resource: 6 Steps to the Right OT Job.
Discounts for OT Students!
Oh how I miss the days of student discounts! Please enjoy these discounts on my behalf!
MedBridge Student Discount (You pay $100)
MedBridge is a continuing education resource that many practitioners use. I wish that I had signed up for continuing ed. courses right away as a new practitioner so I could have referenced them during fieldwork and my first year as a new practitioner. (I love MedbBridge and am an affiliate.)
Fusion Web Clinic
Ok. This is something your professor needs to sign up for, but it is a way to practice documentation in an actual EMR. If you think your program would benefit from this, definitely pass it along. (Not an affiliate, just a fan :-)
Learn more here: https://www.fusionwebclinic.com/educator-program/
Last but not least here are some general student discounts you can take advantage of: