#OTalk 22nd Oct 2019 – Transition from Clinician to Academic

This week  Bill Wong @BillWongOT his hosting this is what he has to say.

When I started occupational therapy school in 2009, my instructors thought I would be a researcher because of my statistics background. They thought I could be a great person to consult for in developing powerful quantitative evidence based assessments. They thought I could be a great scientist our profession need badly. Little did my former instructors know, I contributed in our profession in other ways even though I just started in academia earlier in 2019.

During my student days, I was not too confident in my clinical abilities. My expertise in autism was still developing. After I had great confidence that I would pass my first placement towards my license in California, I applied to attend the clinical doctorate program at University of Southern California (USC). During the second placement a few months later, I found out that I was conditionally accepted to the program. As I became confident that I would pass that placement, I started reading about past capstone projects on the department’s website. The idea that quickly jumped to my mind was by one of my former instructors- as she developed a course for her capstone project. Then, I asked my network of peers who went through the same program recently. I found out that my preceptor (aka project consultant) can provide remote supervision would only need to supervise me on an as needed basis. Thus, it became a slam-dunk decision for me to do my capstone project on an autism course.

When I met USC OT department’s faculty to verify what I have learned and proposed my initial idea, the department gave me the approval for the course development as a capstone project. As a condition for the academic year, I must acquire teaching experience and read at least 20 related books on autism- notably autobiographies. I was elated because it was a project that would be meaningful to me while increasing my likelihood to successfully complete the clinical doctorate degree. I ended up finding @OTSalfordUni as my preceptor after consulting the #otalk crew 7 years ago.

In 2012, one of my biggest hurdles was public speaking. I had bouts of struggles with doing presentations for OT school. I remembered I told myself, “I need to be good at something. If I want to go far with autism in OT, I must be at least adequate in public speaking. Sure, I can write awesome courses on paper. But, I will stunt my potential if I can’t deliver.

Over the years, I submitted to various OT conferences to build up my confidence. I reflected on my performance of each experience. Over time, my confidence improved. My TEDx Talk at TEDxGrandForks in 2015 was a key building block for my confidence because I could deliver speeches under immense pressure. My TEDx Talk at TEDxYouth@AlamitosBay in 2017 was another building block because it was my first time I had any courage to publicly speak about subjects other than my go-to OT topics in such a high stakes environment.

In late 2018, I decided to apply for a couple faculty positions around Los Angeles OT and OT assistant programs. I was rejected by a masters of OT program. However, I was invited to interview for an OT assistant program. Given that I am autistic, I knew it is important to be as prepared as possible for my interview. Fortunately, I was able to ace the interview even though it was unexpectedly rescheduled. 

Going into this “slow transition” for almost a year now, I have observed a few things.

1. When you guest lecture, you do your lecture and move on. However, when you formally have a class of students for at least one academic term, you need to put them in positions to succeed in the classroom and out in the field.

2. You must learn your institution and department’s academic policies. You must also be aware of rights of students who might require reasonable accommodations. Since I am in the United States, this means I must be aware of Americans with Disabilities Act.

3. If teaching is your secondary job, you must find ways to have it co-exist with your primary job. You need to maintain constant communication with your primary job’s employer regarding teaching schedule.

4. If you are unfamiliar with a prospective uni that you are interested in teaching, taking placement students from that uni can be wonderful opportunities to get more insights to the uni’s courses and culture.

5. Teaching is a small world! News can spread within a department quickly! 2 days after my interview at Stanbridge University’s Los Angeles campus, the placement coordinator from its Irvine campus was aware that I interviewed for an adjunct faculty position! Then, when I went to my first day of orientation at the Irvine campus, I recognized half of the OT faculty from the university because I met them at various conferences over the years!

6. Before I started teaching, @shawnPhippsPhD gave me this advice, “You may have to teach something in a subject that you might be uncomfortable with.” This advice couldn’t ring more true with my teaching assignment this year. To be honest, physical disabilities is one of my worst subjects in OT school. To teach a lab course on this is actually quite a challenge!

7. It has been quite a learning experience for me to grade students! Consistent and fair are qualities students are looking for. Out of the 3 practicals I graded so far, I have 2-4 students requesting me to adjust their grades due to inconsistencies. While I strived for no more of such instances, at least my students appreciated that I try my best to strive to be consistent.

8. It is important to keep professional boundaries between you and your students on social media, as eluded in previous #otalk discussions. I allow my students to follow me on Instagram because the school’s student organization (aka OT society) has an account.

On my final note before my questions, I have come to appreciate my former instructors a lot more. It is not as easy to teach OT subjects as it seems. Academia is more than just teaching a course or understanding university policies, it is also important in building rapport with students and fellow faculty.

Now, here are my questions for everyone-

1. Are you a student or a practitioner? Are you in academia right now?

2. If you are in academia now, what led you to be interested in it? What are some common myths associated with academia?

3. If you are not in academia now, what led you to be away from it? If there are things that could entice you to work in academia in the future, what are they?

4. What are some tips for either practitioners transitioning to academia, or students preparing for their futures in academia?


#OTalk 15th Oct 2019 The Elizabeth Casson Trust launch of their International Scholarship award. 

This week the chat will be hosted by The Elizabeth Casson Trust who are proud to announce the launch of their International Scholarship award. 

Earlier this year, The Elizabeth Casson Trust launched their Conference Awards. These were designed to enable Occupational Therapists to attend an occupation focussed conference within the UK, either as part of their ongoing learning or in order to present their work.  So far, the conference awards have funded 40 individuals to attend national and international conferences. The feedback we have received from recipients has been very positive with great enthusiasm and ideas on what to take back to practice.

We are now launching our International Scholarship providing successful scholars an opportunity to reorient their careers and lift themselves to a higher professional level.

Our future plans also include the launch of an impact award. 

Aim of the Twitter chat

  • We aim to introduce these awards 
  • Give individuals a chance to explore ways in which the grants could be best used
  • Provide guidance on how to compile a successful application
  • Answer any questions.

Some questions to consider 

  • How could I use the opportunity?
  • What tips do you have for a successful application? 
  • What are the post scholarship expectations?
  • What other opportunities and future awards are the trust considering?
  • Is this opportunity for me?


  • What will the international scholarship funding cover?
  • What support will I have while I am away?
  • Which countries could I plan to visit on my itinerary?


#OTalk 8th Oct 2019 – Occupational Therapy and Work

This week the RCOT Specialist Section for work @RCOT_Work will be hosting here is what thy had to say.

Work is one of the most significant determinants of health and life expectancy. Occupational therapists can give people the skills, belief and confidence to remain in or return to work, which benefits their longer-term health outcomes.

Workers who are injured or become ill on the job are best able to return-to-work or stay in work when stakeholders (occupational therapist, client and line manager or HR department) involved in their case collaborate and communicate.

In our experience particular communication challenges include managing how our feedback is delivered to client’s with limited insight in a way that is honest but preserves their wellbeing, as well as how to share information with the client’s workplace in a way that preserves dignity and trust whilst being robust, relevant and applicable in order for the employer to gain awareness of the client’s condition.

In this OTalk we would like to hear from other OTs working in the field of occupational health or vocational rehabilitation about their experience of managing these difficulties by asking the following questions:

  1. How can we facilitate a return to work for a client with poor insight?
  2. What methods have you used to give honest feedback to the employer in work meetings whilst maintaining the client’s trust?
  3. How do you manage risk when things don’t go to plan?
  4. How do you stay up to date with the latest evidence?
  5. Final thoughts, any additional resources you would like to share.

The RCOT Specialist Section for work hope that information shared within this discussion allows participants to expand their knowledge and awareness about this growing field of practice.