Outpatient - OT Student
Melanie Barber - OT Student
Columbia University, New York, New York
(9/23/05) This summer, I spent my 12-week affiliation at an outpatient facility that was centered in a community-based hospital in New York. The facility offered the opportunity to work closely with all team members of the health care setting, including co-treating with physical therapists, consulting with physicians and nurses, and working with occupational therapy assistants. It was an excellent experience that allowed me to apply much of the knowledge I had been learning in the classroom for the past 2 years.
The population that I worked most closely with consisted mostly of patients needing hand therapy. I treated patients with, but not limited to, distal radius fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, lateral epicondylitis, various nerve impingements, and tendonitis of the upper extremity.
Hand therapy is a very intricate and specialized treatment area, and I found myself relearning and rereading material that I previously had in class. Going back to the books was critical in having a successful fieldwork experience. A large part of the experience was also the out-of-clinic time. All students were required to do several treatment plans, a case study, a research project, and an adaptive tool. These assignments helped to solidify my occupational therapy knowledge.
Overall, working in an outpatient hand therapy facility allowed for a very specialized learning experience where I gained many skills that will be valuable for the rest of my career. These skills involve splinting, soft tissue release, nerve mobilizations, joint mobilizations, scar management, activity modifications and many psychosocial skills.
Lastly, since I was in a community-based hospital, I had the special opportunity of refining and using my Spanish skills every day. This was especially important because patient populations are incredibly diverse and communication with our patients is essential. Overall, the Level II experience is challenging; however, with dedication and hard work it becomes an invaluable learning experience that will be the basic foundation of your entire occupational therapy career.