As I mentioned in one of my latest blog posts, from time to time I will be highlighting some of my favorite #OTstuff that I have used to enhance my interventions, and simply to enjoy from day to day to make my life easier. The goal is for this list to be useful to all OTs, including:
- Students approaching fieldwork
- New OTs
- OTs working in rural settings
Ideally, your company could provide you with everything you would possibly need to do your fabulous job to the best of your ability. However, this perfect picture is often not the case. Equipment and devices can get misplaced, you may have a specialty or particular interest that the work-site has not needed to support in the past, or you may simply be looking to build your own repertoire of “stuff” to ensure it is there when you need it.
Additionally, I have found that working in rural settings, you have to be a bit more creative with all the #OTstuff provided to you. Many rural sites cannot sustain a full caseload at all times resulting in a decreased desire to purchase some gadgets and equipment that you may find useful.
I have also found that it is easier to travel with items I use regularly as I KNOW that I always have what I need with me instead of relying on every site to carry all of those items because, unfortunately, that just does not happen. And the person who ends up suffering is your patient/client. Not to mention, it can really put a damper on your treatment if you need a specific tool in order to accomplish a specific goal, and you are left to treat your client empty handed.
I know, I know. It can be a pain the butt to carry your own supplies, but I have actually found that it can greatly improve outcomes and the quality of service I am providing to my clients when I show up prepared and ready to treat.
In rural settings, you never know what you are walking into and nothing is more frustrating than having a client with upper extremity deficits and a goniometer is no where to be found.
So today, I am starting with a few essentials of what can be helpful to carry on your own.
Since I just referenced to this device, we will start here. This is something that I actually purchased back in graduate school so I could practice at home and would definitely recommend the same to students or someone preparing for fieldwork. It can be super nerve-racking to be handed a goniometer on the spot by your clinical instructor as they ask you to “measure your patient’s distal interphalangeal range of motion” when you have not gotten familiar with the device itself. Even if you know by heart the DIP functional range of motion, reading from a goniometer and knowing where to place the fulcrum is something you definitely need to practice ahead of time. Here is the simple pack I have been using for years – it comes with three different sized goniometers to address multiple joints and ranges.
When I initially purchased this, I did not know how much I would actually use it. Now I can say that I use it all the time, especially for evaluations. The calculator and timer on the top is extra helpful for conducting assessments and also keeping track of units to bill per patient. I purchased the additional tray to fit underneath, which is great for maintaining HIPAA standards and making sure I do not leave important documents in patient rooms! I find the Ranchos Los Amigos scale, spinal cord injury chart, and ASIA impairment scale useful to glance at in a pinch.
Why in the heck do I need a tape measure? My thoughts exactly…. until I needed one multiple times and was not able to find one! I use mine nearly daily to measure wheelchairs, edematous extremities, seating and positioning, specific distances during functional activities, etc. Measurement is a great, tangible, and quantifiable way to grade therapeutic activities and show specific progress.
While most facilities should have some of these around for you to use, prior to purchasing my own, I found myself searching for a gait belt at least twice daily. Save yourself the hassle and wasted time searching for one of these guys and bring one yourself. Not only will you be equipped and prepared, but you will also have a belt that you are used to donning/doffing quickly and confidently (just be sure to write your name on it!).
Yes. Pens. Simple, huh? I cannot tell you how many times during fieldwork (and since as a clinician) that I could Not. Find. A. Pen. Exceed your fieldwork educator’s or boss’s expectations and show up prepared. And make sure to purchase black and not a bunch of pretty, glitzy, crazy colors. Stick to classic.
Simple preparation will set you up to be successful during completion of fieldwork and as a practicing occupational therapist. Since I have equipped myself with my own gadgets and tools, I have found myself to be twice as productive and twice as helpful to my clients.
Efficiency and effectiveness are a result of preparedness and planning ahead!You never know what situation you might be walking into, so armor yourself ahead of time.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions beyond this basic list of must haves! I want you to be successful as an occupational therapist.
Stay tuned for more in-depth talk on all “OT Stuff” to help you in becoming a thriving OT!
Until next time…. Thrive!