For the first time ever, a group of occupational therapy assistant students from American Career College-Orange County was chosen to highlight their proposal at the annual national OT conference this April.
The four students — Quoc Nguyen, Noel Delgado, Amber Meeks and Caroline Sundara -- presented a poster about their fieldwork experience at a homeless shelter, helping address the psychosocial needs of the youth there. The group lead activities at the shelter like gardening and meditation to provide the youth tools to deal with issues like frustration tolerance, emotion regulation and lowered self-esteem.
"This is a huge opportunity for the students. At the time, they didn't realize what they had but as they get the reaction from other people at the conference, they are gaining such wisdom, such confidence to be lifelong learners. I've already heard them talking about future presentations," ACC-Orange County OTA academic fieldwork coordinator Janyce Johnson said. "Sometimes it takes therapists a long time — myself included — to get into being a lifelong learner, and here they are starting right out of the gate. We couldn't ask for more."
Recent ACC graduate and newly certified OTA Quoc Nguyen said he really appreciated all the positive feedback he and the group were getting from people at the American Occupational Therapy Association conference in New Orleans. Not only were they connecting with his group's fieldwork, he said, but they were impressed by the level of work itself.
"This is what OTAs are capable of," Johnson said. "They don't just carry the water and the sneakers of the OTs. They are the actual frontline people that can provide intervention and ideas and program development. The next thing is just empowering OTAs to be able to speak up and to get that 'just' out of their language -- I'm 'just' an OTA. No, you are an OTA and very very valuable."
Nguyen said he was very grateful for the opportunity to present at the conference and a chance to meet with professionals from across the country.
"We're here at a national level, representing our school, representing what our field can do. We're amongst other OTs and that's a pretty big thing. We're OTAs and there's not a lot of us representing here so I love that and that's all thanks to ACC," he said.