The OT Student's Guide to Summer Break!
Written by Sue Ram, Published on May 29, 2017
Summer break. The two words we wait for all year.
A time for renewal, relaxation, and a step closer to becoming an OT. Some OT programs allow a 2-3 break before delving back into more coursework or clinical work. Others offer a full, 3-month break!
Regardless of how long your summer break is, as aspiring OTs, we know the benefits of practicing occupational balance while using our time wisely to grow as a professional.
Build your OT circle (AKA networking)
While classes are in, we find ourselves dedicating most of our time to studying and being in class and for some of us, going to work on top of it all. Summer is a good time to follow-up with any OT connections you have made online or in person at conferences and other outings. You can use some of your free time to send out emails or thank you notes to those you have met. This is also a great time to thank your professors and clinical instructors for all they have done for you.
Join in on some OT Twitter chats or update your LinkedIn profile. If you prefer not to use social media for networking, you can also do it the old-school way! Look up local clinics that may need extra help in the summer, or shadow in a practice setting you are still wanting to experience.
Summer is a time for growth and what better way than to put some of your new skills to use while building meaningful connections in your community.
In order to grow, we must keep learning. This could be anything like learning to play the piano. Picking up a new hobby can help you tap into that creative part of your brain, which is much-needed for OT! You can even learn how to knit or cook on YouTube. Use that to your advantage.
You can also use your free time to check out some continuing education opportunities in your community. Get certified in CarFit or Mental Health First Aid. The possibilities are endless.
Many conferences put out their “Call for Papers” in the summertime. Want to present the research you have been working so hard on? Check out AOTA, your state OT association, and other health conferences to see how to submit a proposal.
- Other ways to get involved include:
- Volunteering at local hospital
- Volunteer at a kids camp
- Help out at homeless shelter
- Join your local National Alliance on Mental Illness Chapter (NAMI)
- Participate/volunteer with health-related 5k walks to support your favorite organization
- Write for NGOT!
Make time for leisure, social participation, and sleep!
As students, we tend to focus on getting everything done. We sometimes don’t get the opportunity to just relax at the beach or spend a day in bed binge-watching Netflix or sleeping until 3pm. Summer break is a great time to unwind and make new memories with your friends and family.
My level I fieldwork instructor gave me some valuable advice: Have more fun.
Although it can be a great time to “catch-up” on things we didn’t have time for while school was in, we have to remember that life moves very quickly and that it is perfectly fine to have a little fun when we can. This could possibly be one of the last times we have a summer break before we go on to being full-time contributing members of society.
Use it wisely!