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Kara DeRosa's Blog

Reality Check

As part of my course requirements for this semester, I have to attend two seminars of my choice. For my first seminar, I decided to attend the seminar about spinal cord injury. Patients who have sustained a spinal cord injury are a very large population of the people that occupational therapists treat. I was very interested in learning more about this specific population and the role occupational therapy plays in their rehabilitation.

The seminar included two full days of learning. On Friday, two occupational therapists who work at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, PA (also graduates of the University of Scranton) came to campus to give us a lesson on spinal cord injuries. They taught us about the different types on spinal cord injury, some of the adaptive equipment, including the many different kinds of wheelchairs, available for these patients, and other treatment interventions that OT’s provide for this population.

Saturday was the fun day! Those of us attending the seminar had the opportunity to take a bus to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital to tour the facility, see and practice using different wheelchairs, meet actual patients and observe a mock treatment session. This was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had as an OT student. Not only was it an awesome opportunity to see the facility and the multitude of equipment they have to use with patients, getting to meet actual patients who have a spinal cord injury and talk about their experiences with occupational therapy was great!

Listening to the two therapists talk to us about what a typical day for them is like was crazy. It just made me think about how in about a year from now, I can (and hopefully will be) standing in their shoes. At first I was totally intimidated by the whole idea of observing a treatment session because I know that patients with a spinal cord injury require such specialized treatment. However, it was refreshing to see that most of what the therapist was doing with the patient, I had learned and felt I would also be able to do in treatment. It was great to actually see that I may be more ready than I think to become a practicing therapist. It was also a huge reality check that soon enough that was going to be treating my own patients!!

Overall, this was an absolutely awesome learning experience. I got the opportunity to learn more about spinal cord injury and the special treatment it requires, tour a rehabilitation hospital similar to one I may find myself working at in the future, and meet actual patients who have spinal cord injuries and talk to them about their experiences. I look forward to my next seminar at the beginning of December and sharing that experience with you!

Have a great week…one more week until Thanksgiving!


The End is Nearing

I have some exciting news! For my faculty mentor research course, we have been putting together our project all semester and have finally finished! Our research topic is looking at a comparison of assessments used by occupational therapists with patients who have sustained a stroke. One of the professors who works in the OT department still practices at John Heinz Institute for Rehabilitation in Wilkes Barre, PA. She will be giving the assessments to patients at the hospital and collecting the data for us to analyze and gather results.

In order to complete any research project, an IRB proposal must be submitted for approval. The IRB form is very lengthy and requires a lot of research and detailed explanation of the research project you plan to complete. My group and I worked together to complete this almost 20 page long document. This is just the first step in our year long project. Once our proposal is accepted the practicing OT can start to collect data.

Next semester, we will continue to work on this research project, analyzing the data collected. I am really looking forward to this part of the project where we can see results and evidence for which assessment is most appropriate to be used with clients who have sustained a stroke. During my level II fieldwork this past summer, the majority of patients I treated had sustained a stroke. I am very interested to see what the results of our research show about which assessment is best to be used with this population.

At the end of the spring semester, we have what is called Scholarship Day. At this event, all of the OT students’ parents come to the University and we present the findings our research project. According to our professors, this is a really exciting day. Proud parents get to see the hard work of their children and it’s basically our last big project as OT graduate students. I am looking forward to see the look on my parents face when I am giving my presentation!

PSA: 15 days until Thanksgiving!!!!

Enjoy :)

POTA Conference

This weekend I had the amazing opportunity to present at the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association Conference. The fall semester of my senior year, I took an evidence based research class. Throughout the duration of the semester, I worked on and completed an almost 30 page research paper. At the end of the semester, I (with the help of my amazing professor) submitted a proposal to present at conference and sure enough, got accepted!!

Last week,I spent almost 2 hours working with my teacher to put the main points of my paper onto a poster. Then, this weekend I traveled to King of Prussia, PA along with some other classmates who were also accepted to present my research findings in a poster presentation.

I had never been to an OT conference before so was not sure what to expect. When we first got there, I signed in and had about an hour to enjoy before my presentation began. I decided to walk around the exhibit hall where a few dozen tables were set up. Schools were there to talk about their OT education programs and practitioners from various practice settings were there talking about their specific role in the field. I also got some free stuff so that was cool too!

Here is me with my poster at conference!



Following the conference, we enjoyed a delicious meal with some of our OT professors and that was a lot of fun. Our professors continued to remind us how proud they were and how accomplished we should feel. When I was giving my poster, I had multiple people say to me in shock, “Wow, there are a lot of people here from the University of Scranton!” There 15 presenters from our school!! That’s quite a large number in comparison to other schools.

I look forward to hopefully presenting again at future conferences and am grateful that I had the opportunity to do so already.

Have a good week!

Some OT Grad Events

A few weeks ago, in my OT Interpersonal Dynamics class, we had a guest speaker come present for us. TJ is a graduate of the University of Scranton and a war veteran. He was injured while serving in Iraq a few years ago. TJ is now totally blind in both eyes and uses a guide dog in his everyday life to help him to navigate through his environment. Having him come speak to us about the day to day challenges he faces and the positive impact his service dog has had on his life was inspiring.

On Thursday, the University’s Occupational Therapy Association hosted an event to help raise money for the America’s VetDogs. American’s VetDogs  is an association that sponsors various dog programs, including a guide dog program, a hearing dog program, a service dog program, and others. Several vet dogs came to our campus and donations were made to interact and learn more about these amazing, life changing animals.  The event was a lot of fun and helped to raise money for a great organization.

Another OT event that occurred last week was the Specialty Fair. At this event, occupational therapists from a variety of settings, backgrounds and areas come to campus and give presentations on their area of expertise. As a graduate student, I will looking for a job within the next year so this is a great opportunity to get an idea of the many different practice areas that I could potentially work in. It is great being able to talk to actual practitioners who are currently working to get a feel of what to expect as recent graduates in the field.

Saturday I registered for classes for the last time! It is so hard to wrap my head around the fact that I will never again register for a University of Scranton course (as long as I don’t fail anything). I knew this day would come but I didn’t realize how soon. The semester is more than half way over and I am just not ready for my final semester as a Scranton student. So, time, will you please slow down?!

Have a good week everyone & enjoy your Halloween weekend! I’ll be sure to post a picture of my costume next week so be sure to check back :)

The Scranton Family

Hi all!

This past weekend made me realize how proud I am to have attended such a close-knit university that really cares for all its students, both past and present.  On Saturday, a memorial 5K walk/run was held at Nay Aug Park to remember Michael Mulhall, a graduate of the University of Scranton class of 2010.  Michael was a loved son, brother and friend of many throughout the Scranton community.  The event is held to raise money for the Michael Mulhall Memorial Scholarship given to University of Scranton students pursuing a career in special education.

Despite the fact that it was predicted to rain all day, the sun came out to shine as people complete the 5K wearing t-shirts designed for the event.  The event was a huge success, raising almost $10,000! Although I did not personally know Michael, I can imagine that he was truly an incredible person loved by many, as shown by the incredible support of friends and family who came to the event.

It is events such as this one that remind me how incredibly lucky I am to attend such an amazing school.  I think its great that Scranton students, both past and present, are always there for each other.  This was proven this weekend by the number of people who came out to support Michael, despite never having met him, but because he was a Scranton student.  I think this is so because Scranton is such a school that promotes a sense of community amongst all of its students.

Add that to the list of reasons I love my school, a list that seems to be growing every day. I can’t imagine having found a school where I feel as much at home as I do here. At Scranton, we really are all one big family, always there for one another and helping each other to grow in the best ways possible.

As much as I love it here, I do have to say that I am excited to go home and see my real family this weekend for Fall Break. I cannot believe that it is already October and the middle of the semester… time needs to slow down! Each day that passes is one day closer to me no longer being a student here (SO SAD) even though I know I will be always be welcome back and will forever be a part of the Scranton family!

Have a good break everyone! :)


Saturday Adventures

Saturday morning I woke up to the sun shining in my window and didn’t care that it was only 8 in the morning when I was planning to sleep in.  I immediately sent a group text to 2 of my friends that I live with, “Wake up, the sun is out..let’s do something fun today!”  Within minutes they responded they were awake because, like myself, the sun had shone through their windows waking them up.  We decided we needed to be outside all day, thinking it was probably one of the last few days we would have such beautiful weather.  So, that is exactly what we did.

Our day started with a walk with a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts (can’t start your day without some iced coffee) followed with a walk around the beautiful Lake Scranton.  Located less than 2 miles from Scranton campus, Lake Scranton is a 3.5 mile loop an absolutely amazing view the whole walk around.  I couldn’t help but stop to capture this picture!


Our walk around the lake was followed by a trip to Nay Aug Park, another great place to spend time outdoors less than a mile from campus.  One of my favorite spots at Nay Aug is the treehouse.  It’s a great place to just hang out and chat with friends enjoying the fabulous weather.  Besides Lake Scranton, Nay Aug is my favorite place to go for a run.  What I love about it is the various trails that range in distance and difficulty so I can switch up where I go each time depending how ambitious I’m feeling that.

Nay Aug Treehouse

As you can imagine, after spending the day outside, we were starving when we got back to our apartment.  We decided to order a late lunch from Sacco’s, a local pizzeria and Italian restaurant also located less than 1 mile from campus. I would rate their pasta top 3 I’ve ever had.  They also have the largest garlic knots I have every seen.  So, we ended our day with a full stomachs and smiling faces.

Although it may seem like just a regular day hanging out with friends, I will never forget this day. It’s days like this that make me beyond grateful for the opportunity to attend such an incredible university.  Not only is the University of Scranton an amazing campus, there’s such great places around to enjoy with good friends.  Knowing it is my last year as a student has made me realize how fast time is flying by and I am constantly reminding myself to make the best of it.  Today, I definitely made the best of it.

So, the next time you are turning over in bed trying to hide the sun from your eyes, think again.  You never know what they day has in store for you and you won’t ever know if you stay in bed all day.

Enjoy your week everyone! :)


Love the Weinberg

Graduate year classes are very different from undergraduate.  I am taking this semester is called “Leadership in Occupational Therapy”.  One of our assignments for the class is to write a research paper about a topic of our choice explaining how it has changed over the years.  We are required to find 5 sources from each decade starting in 1910!

When I first heard about the, as we now call it, “Rita paper” (our professor’s name is Rita), I had no idea where to begin.  How was I going to find articles from the 1920s when they didn’t even have computers back then?  Well, I soon learned that the Weinberg would become my new best friend.

We had a class session where Bonnie, one of the lovely librarians, took time to basically show us the ropes.  She showed us to search the library catalog, how to find journals that related to our topic and also how to use microfilm to find articles from earlier decades. As Scranton students, we are so fortunate to have such amazing resources available to us.  Before I knew it, I was finding articles left and right without any trouble at all.  Even articles or journals that the library didn’t have, I was able to borrow from another library through a program called “Interlibrary Loan,” another great tool that Bonnie taught us about.

That’s just one of the many things I love about this school.  And it’s saying a lot when a student says they love the library.  But it really is a great place to get work done and find what you need in order to do well in classes.  Students should take advantage of the plethora of books, journals, and programs that our amazing library has to offer.

Happy studying everyone! :)

The Last First Day

“Happy last first day of classes.”  That was the text I got from my mom as I walked to my Monday morning class.  As a senior last year, all my friends were always saying, “This is the last time we are going to be doing this.”  As sad as that was to think about, I knew that I would be back in Scranton for another year to get my Master’s degree, so hearing those words didn’t have as much of an effect on me then.  Sure I knew graduate school would be very different than undergrad, but I still had another year before I had to leave Scranton for good.  But as I read that text on the first day of classes, I realized that I was going to have a lot of “lasts” this year.  I finally knew what all my friends were feeling when they complained about it being the “last” of something last year.

With that being said, I am determined to make this year, my last year as a Scranton student, one to remember.  So far, so good.  I can’t believe I’ve already been here for 3 weeks but as the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  Graduate classes are very different than undergraduate classes.  When I got all my syllabi in my first classes, I was shocked to find no exams on the schedule!  That’s right, NO MORE TESTS!  Just lots and lots of papers. Did I mention I have a lot of papers to write? So like I said, very different, but I’m excited to see how I handle this change.

In other news, I have been keeping very busy outside of school work.  It took me almost a full week to completely unpack and organize all my stuff (I like to procrastinate).  I’m living in an off campus apartment with 4 other OT majors, which is great because we all have the same classes so are able to do all our work together.  I have a really good feeling about this year and I am excited to see what new experiences it will bring.

Have a great week everyone!


The End Is Near

Hi all!

As I sit here writing this blog, it’s hard not to start tearing up.  In just under 3 weeks, I will be walking across the stage to receive my college diploma (EEK!)  I have a ball of emotions lately from sad to excited to nervous to happy.   The past four years have truly been unforgettable and I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.

I recently read a blog post “The Real Reason You’re So Afraid To Graduate.”  It addressed how sure you’re scared to graduate and enter the “real world” and you’re going to miss hanging out with your friends all the time.  But it says the real reason that the idea of graduating is so scary is this: “At some point in the past four years, while you were busy giggling from exhaustion as you and your best friends ordered pizza to the library at 2am, this place became your home.”  

This could not be more true about the University of Scranton.  I can honestly call this place my home away from home and I think every student who’s about to graduate from here would agree.

Now, don’t get me wrong I have a lot of exciting things to look forward too as well (I told you my emotions are all over the place.)  Senior Week, an event hosted by the university, is a great time to enjoy the end of the school year and spend more time with friends before we actually have to graduate.  And at graduation, I will finally be able to say that  all my hard work over the past 4 years finally paid off. I am also excited about the next chapter in my life, Grad school.(Lucky for me, I will be staying for graduate school here at the U.)

So, if you are a student reading this, I hope the message you take away is to enjoy every single second of your college years because I have never heard anything more true than “they go by way too fast.”

Have a great week everyone & good luck on all of your finals! :)


There Is No Option

When I’m swamped with work and feel like I’m never going to get everything done in time, sometimes I question why I’m putting myself through this.  I find myself asking if it’s going to be worth it in the end.  If I do poorly on a test or don’t understand something I’m learning in class, I question if occupational therapy is the right profession for me.

But after last night, I don’t think those thoughts will ever cross my mind again because I know that deep down, being an OT is exactly what I want to do with my life.

In my Advanced Therapeutic Techniques class, we learn a lot about different neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  My professor still works as an occupational therapist at John Heinz Rehab here in Scranton.

In our class last night, we had a guest speaker who is the mother of one of my professor’s patients.  Her son, Damon, sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident 2 years ago when he was just 17 years old.  She talked to us all about his injuries and the long road to recovery that he has been on and is still on.  She told us her her motto “There is no option. Damon will get better.”  has helped to get her through each and every day.

She showed us pictures and videos of the miraculous progress that her son has made over the past 2 years.  When she showed the video of Damon taking 8 steps across stage to recieve his high school diploma, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  And then she said something that really hit home for me.  She said, “None of this would have been possible without all of the therapy that Damon has gone through.”

It was then that I knew that being an occupational therapist is what I want to do.  I want to make a difference for people, like all of Damon’s therapists made a difference for him.  I want to someone to tell me, “Because of you, I was able to do something that I wanted to do.”