My name is Sara Ostrowski and I am an Occupational Therapy (OT) student in the Class of 2020. I am also the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) Secretary. I graduated from Stockton University with my Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science. I also minored in Holistic Health and Gerontology. I live in Cinnaminson, N.J. and commute around 45 minutes to and from Salus each day. I chose to pursue my MSOT because ever since I was little, I have been passionate about helping people. As I grew up, I knew I wanted a job in healthcare and when I discovered OT, its mission spoke to me. OT helps individuals across the lifespan get back to doing the things they want and need to do every day.
I love how OT focuses on the holistic nature of an individual – not just on one specific condition, but taking into consideration the entire person. Overall, I chose Salus due to its great academic ranking, but also because of its interdisciplinary focus and amazing professors. Now to my day....
Since I commute, I like to take advantage of my mornings and get to campus early. I am an early bird, so the morning is when I get most of my work done. Class normally starts at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., and I like to arrive about two hours early. This way, I beat the morning rush hour, get a fantastic parking spot, and kick-start my day. I like to take advantage of the gym on campus and work out with my “OT BFF” in the morning. Before class, I normally head to the ADL lab to study, work on projects, or practice my clinical skills (like transfers or manual muscle testing). In the summer, class is longer due to the condensed semester. Monday is Adult Clinical Conditions, Tuesday and Thursday is Adult Theory & Practice, and Friday is Orthotics. We also have a Level 1 fieldwork rotation during the semester as well. We usually have an hour lunch break and get out of class around 2 or 3 p.m. depending on the day. The summer semester is rigorous (but fun) so during class I like to take notes while listening to the lecture. In Theory & Practice, we usually have a lab during the second half of class where we practice clinical skills that relate to what we learned in lecture. For example, one lecture was all about vision, so we practiced visual screenings during lab. I love the combination of lecture and lab, as practicing skills in real life helps the information sink in.
After dealing with the traffic on my drive home, I like to decompress by watching Netflix or scrolling through social media. Like I mentioned, I am not a nighttime person, so my productivity dwindles once I get home from class. I typically do not do intense amounts of schoolwork once I get home, but one tip that has helped me survive this fast-paced semester is reading my notes from class before bed. This helps me review and understand the material, since the semester moves quickly. Balance is important to me, so I like to work hard during the day so I can relax and have some time to myself at night. I need a lot of sleep to function so I try to get to bed before 10:30 p.m. My weekends usually include studying/schoolwork, visiting my boyfriend, or hanging out with friends and family.
Since the summer semester is winding down, we have final exams and a clinical competency coming up. Lately my days have consisted of studying, practicing clinical skills, and reviewing material. Even though I cannot believe this semester is almost over (with just one more didactic semester left – What!), I am really excited to complete my Level 2 fieldwork rotations. So far, I have completed two out of the three Level 1 rotations – my first in an elementary school and my second in a hand therapy clinic. The last Level 1 rotation was in October, and by January I will be out on my first Level 2.
As I wrap up this post, I want to say that OT school can be very stressful. The material is challenging and studying takes up a lot of time. However, as one of my professors says, having an “attitude of gratitude” really helps get past the difficult days. Every night, I try to remember why I want to be an OT. As easy as it is to get wrapped up in the stresses of a rigorous graduate program, reminding myself that this experience is a gift and that I am lucky to be here really helps me refocus in a positive way. I hope you enjoyed this post and learned a little bit about this awesome program – if you see me on campus feel free to ask me questions.