An Interview over Chat……

by let's OT

As an intiative to help students applying for master’s programme in the US…we planned to do an interview over the chat with three students who are presently pursuing their master’s at the prestigious University of Southern California And University of Pittsburg in the United states of America…..

Abhishek desai:   was  in a bus on his way to Newyork for a winter vacation was enthusiastically answering the questions. He graduated in Occupational therapy from the OT School and centre, Seth GS Medical college, Mumbai . Presently pursuing his masters at the university of pittsburg. He is also assisting at the same university for a project in understanding the biomechanics of hand.

Sammrudhi Ghaisas :    graduate from the OT school and centre, Seth GS medical College, Mumbai. She worked for a year at The Association Of the Welfare of Mentally Handicapped as a senior Occupational Therapist and also worked at a private clinic. After which she took off to the United States for pursuing her masters at the University of Southern California.

Aditi Brahmabhatt :    batchmate of Sammrudhi Ghaisas at the same OT school. Also took a year break and worked at a  private paediatric rehabilitation set up in Mumbai before she left for the US for her Masters Programme at the University of Southern California. Presently both Sammrudhi and Aditi are assisting, Dr Erna Blanche in an ongoing research project on clinical observations in sensory integration.

The interview :

The Master’s Programme in the US has elective subjects that one has to select……what are your electives ?

Sammy:     My elective for fall was enhancing motor control for occupation. It was an elective focusing on adult rehabilitation. The main cases that I am seeing are basically stroke a TBI. The frame of reference used in NDT in adults and Neuroefrah. Neuroefrah is a new method of treatment which has started from NDT but it’s more aggressive. It was invented by an occupational therapist. The difference between adult set up here and in India is that focus on occupation is much more emphasized. I wanted to know more about adult NDT and occupation based practice which is not much emphasized in India

Aditi Brahmabhatt: I have taken school based therapy as my elective as I wanted to experience its working system here.. It is not a very organized one in India, so that was something new that I was looking forward to.. The school based OT were non existent in here too, but because of Jean Ayres that was something that opened up and now there is a school based therapist boom.. And also the laws are such that inclusive education is mandatory and therapeutic services are a compulsion too.. So school based has successfully worked to fix its hold deep..

Abhishek Desai: The pattern at Pitt’s  is a bit different…..we had to select a field as an elective in one of our core subjects. My elective is ergonomics, I selected ergonomics as I have inclination towards industrial rehab. And my elective for clinical experience is Physical disabilities as I wanted to get a general hang of things in the hospital rehab setup here.

As far these 9 month post professional courses are concerned electives are not as big as a specialization as they just give u certain orientation, they are not that extensive to make u an expert in that field. The motive behind these masters’ courses is to improve your clinical reasoning and orient you to research….according to me

Sammy: Our core subjects are 3 for fall. History of OT,  foundations of occupational science and clinical dilemmas of reflective practitioner. I find foundations of occupational science as exclusively USC based subject to direct students for OS research to add to knowledge body of Occupational therapy. History gives the overall perspective about emergence of OT in US which u can brain storm to find conclusions about OT in India and its evolution. The third subject is more oriented around the problems faced by OTsts in real practice and is the most entertaining subject. Overall USC core subjects are designed to make occupational therapy leaders rather than practitioners… my opinion. On grading.. I would grade history as 8/10, clinical dilemmas 8/10, and occupational science 8.5/10. The electives offered are… motor control, school based OT, ergonomics, universal design, hand rehabilitation. In all these subjects, motor control involves practicum where u r assigned a patient for the whole semester whom u treat and at the end of semester present. It’s a good way to get acquainted with US set up of rehabilitation and documentation strategies. School based aditi will add. The other electives.. We r not that aware of.

Aditi Brahmabhatt :  Occupational Science (OS) is research based and it gives substantial scientific base to many things that we do in OT.. OS is a whole new world..I wud rate it 9/10.. 3rd is History – the purpose of this is to know where we have come from so that we can guide where we are going towards.. reflection on it was a wonderful experience..We learned about American history, world history, and how it was reflected on OT and its birth.. It was an interesting subject and wud grade it 9/10

Abhishek desai: 1) Human Performance and Analysis: we had lectures on neuro rehab, musculoskeletal rehab – ergonomics, cognitive rehab, fatigue management, self-management and ICF. It helped me to understand the basic structure of rehab in these fields in the US and also helped me develop critical reasoning of certain issues in those fields which were not though of until now. (My elective was ergonomic) 2) Functional Assessment: this subject taught us about the psychometric properties of the assessment scales used. I got to understand the in depth meaning of the different terms and their application in practice as a clinician and a researcher. 3) Human participation; adaptation and compensation: this dealt with evaluation, intervention and clinical reasoning. Had lectures on Assistive technology and interdisciplinary approach to rehab.

How is the teaching different in the Universities in the US than in India ?

Abhishek Desai: the basic difference here is that we have group discussion rather than one way teaching, teachers are more receptive in accepting student point of views and imparting more knowledge which they gathered over time through experience, both clinical and teaching. Learning goes beyond the book  .

Aditi Brahmabhatt: Ohh.. Learning is a lot more different.. Teacher is part of a big group and not the leader of the group..But the main reason for it is the structure of the lectures.. The lectures are more of a reflection and giving your point of view on the various concepts you read in paper.. They prepare us for reasoning out for ourselves and be leaders.. But for subjects like anatomy and all which they learn in the first year the lecture pattern is a lot more like teacher-student..But there is a lot of freedom in teaching and they support every way they can to enhance learning.. And fun is a part of learning which is something different.. And the teachers are absolutely great!!!!

Samruddhi Ghaisas: The whole teaching style is different here. We do not have lecture method. We have discussion and facilitations. The instructor helps us understand the concept by just being part of the discussions. We lead the discussions as assigned by instructor or chosen by us. However, as far homework is concerned all the instructors keep themselves prepared for the class. it is ok fro them to accept their mistakes and we r in fact expected to argue with them if we disagree… this is good and novel but also being an Indian student it becomes a little difficult in d beginning to argue with the instructor as we do not practice it much thru

Usually or almost always , when I chat with you all, either you are writing a paper or reading an article ….what is this study pattern like

Samruddhi Ghaisas: in USC we do not have question answer papers with subjective writing n all. We  have small MCQ papers to keep us acquainted with pattern of final comprehensive exam. Otherwise we are expected to write independent papers based on a single idea and reflect ourselves. We are expected to read articles from occupational therapy related journals and papers or books and relate them to our experiences to write the paper. It is a way of enforcing d student to think independently and contribute to the professional literature.

Aditi Brahmabhatt: you have to live with each subject daily.. As it’s more of a discussion, you have to be prepared before you go to class.. Class readings are mostly articles from various journals which help in achieving the class objectives..It’s like an exam everyday.. You can’t go unprepared.. U is constantly being graded on daily basis..And then there are assignments and class leadership where you enhance the learning of your group by creatively engaging them.. And then we have mid term and final papers.. Where we have to reflect on certain topics and write 5- 10 pages paper..A way to prepare us for reflection and research..They take care of a student’s overall development so that she has varied choices to choose from when she gradates.. Provide us with all resources possible..

Research… much of it is stressed upon in the master’s programme

Samruddhi Ghaisas: when writing a paper we need to research n read even the outside readings which enables us to know the developments in d profession n society in general. However, as a topic USC provides it in spring semester as a core subject so we will know more about it soon. Every paper we write is in certain level a research paper. Writing a paper involves researching various resources and reflecting on them and giving our opinions.. And in classes we are exposed to varied topics so that we know what is being researched and what needs to be researched.. Research is touched upon more in the next semester too.. And I am also going to be taking an independent research study where I will help a professor in her research program..So I all get a first hand experience of how top class research is being carried on..