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Kara DeRosa's Blog

The Last Hoorah

These past few weeks have absolutely flown by and I am sure my final weeks here are going to go by even faster. It is still unbelievable that in just 3 weeks I will no longer by a University of Scranton student!!!

I just want to share some of the fun and exciting things I have been up to these past few weeks and also some events I am looking forward to.

These past two weeks in my Pediatrics course we had children joing our class so we could  practice our evaluation and observation skills. The first family had 5 children (4 boys and 1 girl) but the youngest was only a few months old so we did not work with other. The other was a family with twin boys. The children all participated in various assessments given by myself and my classmates to practice the  administration and scoring. We also observed the children playing with various toys and crafts.

Both experiences were positive and educational. I can say with certainty that actually administering assessments to a child is very different than just learning about them. Children are all unpredictable and although we would like to hope that all assessments will go as planned, I have learned through experience that this is not the case. The only way to prepare for real-life treatment is to gain as much knowledge as you can through practice and experience. The kids also seemed to very much enjoy getting to spend time with us through play and interaction.

A lot of my big assignments have been officially handed in which is super exciting. As much as I will be sad about leaving Scranton, each completed assignment means I am one step closer to having my master’s degree and working as a licensed occupational therapist (EEK).

Next Friday, the OT graduate students have our Portfolio presentation day. We are asked to invite someone from campus  who has influenced our time at Scranton to come view our portfolios. The portfolio is a compilation of just some of the many things we have accomplished over the past 5 years. The artifacts included reflect the University of Scranton Department of Occupational Therapy goals and values. This is an exciting time to showcase all the hard work we have done during our time here as students.

Our final big event before graduation is Scholarship Day, where we present our Faculty Mentor Research projects that have been completed over the course of our graduate year. Family members are invited to attend this event to get just a glimpse of what we have been working hard on for the past year.

To me, the most exciting part of Scholarship Day is the presentation of the money we raised from our Grad Spring Fling to TJ and the reps from VetDogs. It costs $6,000 to name a puppy and this year we raised almost $8,000 which is absolutely incredible!! At this event, we present our check and have the privilege of naming a VetDog in our honor. I am extremely looking forward to this exciting event!

Have a great week everyone :)


It’s All Coming To An End

With just 5 short  weeks of classes left, it’s hard to believe that my time as a University of Scranton is about to end. I now know how all my friends were feeling last year when they knew they were finished and I still had another year to look forward to. To say the past 5 years have been the most amazing of my life would be an understatement. I have learned and grown so much throughout my time here and I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a Scranton Royal.

With that being said, I am also excited to see what the next chapter of my life will bring. After I graduate in May, I will be completing a 12 week Level II fieldwork. I do not yet know where I will be doing this (or when for that matter) but I know for sure that’s next on my list.

Following the completing of my fieldwork, I will spend the next month or so studying for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Exam. The University offers a weekend review course at the end of September for those taking the exam to come back and learn some tips and tricks for the exam. I’m already looking forward to coming back that weekend and seeing familiar faces. The University’s new Rehabilitation building is also set to be completed by Fall 2015 so I am looking forward to seeing that, although I’m upset I won’t be able to use it!

It is also important to note that an individual can not even sit for the exam if they have not graduated from an accredited university. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association visited the University this past fall and we got accredited for the next 10 years, the highest accreditation there is!! This makes me feel confident that I truly have received amazing education over these past 5 years to prepare for my life in the real world.

Below is the link to the University of Scranton’s occupational therapy homepage if anyone is interested in finding out more about our one-of-a-kind program.


Have a good week!

School Visit Success!

Welcome back from spring break! I hope everyone enjoyed their week off. Time to get back into school mode!

I mentioned in a previous post that my Pediatrics class was going to be taking a few trips to the Jefferson Learning Center in Dunmore. As of today, we have had two visits that both went very well!

Our first visit to the center we paired up to observe a classroom. My class is a Secondary Life Skills program for kids ages 18-21. The class normally has 6 students but there were only 4 present when I did my observation. We watched the students participate in an activity learning about community signs with flashcards. Although the students needed much prompting and redirecting, they were able to demonstrate some understanding of the meanings of the signs.

My second visit I conducted the School Functional Assessment with the teacher. This is an assessment that measures one student’s performance of functional tasks that support his or her participating in the academic and social aspects of the school program. The assessment is used by therapists to gain a better understanding of a student’s school-related tasks in order to design appropriate intervention activities.

I think that actually having a chance to administer the assessment in a real-life situation is so beneficial. It is one thing to learn about assessments in the classroom but I think it is important to have practice actually administering and scoring assessments to improve skills and gain confidence.

Our next visit to the school, we will be facilitating an activity with the students. We decided to do a spring craft and decorate butterflies to hang around the classroom. I am really looking forward to engaging the students and hope they enjoy participating in the activity completion.

This Saturday is our OT Graduate Spring Fling and I am getting really excited about it. There are over 100 people attending helping to raise money for an amazing cause! I’ll share photos next week :)

Have a great week everyone!!


Helping Those In The Dark

One of the requirements to get my Master’s degree this Spring is to complete a seminar of my choice. These seminars are two days and cover a wide variety of topics. You can chose a seminar based on your interests and availability. I chose to attend the Low Vision Seminar that took place this past weekend and I am so happy I did.

The seminar was taught by Dr. Julie Nastasi, a member of the Occupational Therapy Department, and a former professor of mine. Dr. Nastasi has her SCLV (Specialty Certification in Low Vision) and continues to conduct research in the area of low vision.

The seminar began Friday morning with a brief lecture that gave an overview of common low vision diagnoses and…

My favorite part of the seminar followed the lecture. The group walked downtown to the Lackawanna Blind Association (LBA). The LBA is a non-profit corporation that serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired living in Lackawanna County. They offer a wide variety of programs including case management for homebound clients, recreation life skills education, support groups, exercise classes, an audio book club, a visual support center, and transportation.

During our afternoon at the LBA, we helped participants engage in a sensory development activity. Using shamrock-shaped foam pieces, we helped make St. Patrick’s Day magnets. It was amazing to see how much the individuals were able to do on their own despite their low vision or, in some cases, total blindness. It also amazed me how independent they were in all aspects. One of the individuals who was totally blind was able to make a pot of coffee and use the toilet completely on her own!

Following the activity, we ate lunch and talked with everyone there before the bus came to bring everyone. Overall, I really enjoyed spending time there and meeting all the remarkable people who take advantage of the many great programs the LBA has to offer.

After the LBA, we took a trip to the Viewmont Mall in Dickson City. While there, we were each given a pair of goggles that made us have a vision impairment. With the help of one of our classmates, who wasn’t wearing the goggles, we had to walk around the mall for 30 minutes. I enjoyed this because it gave me an idea of what is like for a person who has a vision impairment to go shopping. As an occupational therapist, think it helps to have an understanding of what the individual you are treating is experiencing in order to provide the best treatment and enhance your client-therapist relationship.

On Saturday, we began the seminar learning about an occupational therapy low vision assessment that can be used to test a client’s vision. We were able to practice administering the assessment to others in the group to demonstrate a good understanding of how it is done properly.

After the lecture, we returned to using the low vision goggles to make muffins. This was quite the experience. I am not very good in the kitchen to begin with and having a vision impairment surely didn’t help. It did give me a better appreciation of how difficult it is for someone who does live with a vision impairment to make a simple recipe. It allowed me to consider ways that I could adapt a client’s home to accommodate for their low vision and make sure they are safe while performing tasks in the kitchen.

To end the seminar, we went to Cafe Classico, a delicious Italian cafe right up the street from campus. Again, we had to wear our goggles to order, eat, and pay for our food. This was another eye-opening experience as I never realized how difficult it would be for someone who has a low vision impairment to enjoy a meal at a restaurant with others.

Overall, I had a really positive learning experience this past weekend. I enjoyed the interactive activities, gaining insight to how difficult certain tasks are for those who have a vision impairment, and most of all meeting all the individuals at the LBA. I think that this will have a positive impact on how I treat client’s in the future who have a vision impairment now that I have a better understanding of the diagnoses.

Have a great spring break everyone!!!

Scranton Athletics

This was a crazy weekend for both the men and women’s University of Scranton basketball teams. Both teams played in the Landmark Conference game, and both will be playing in the NCAA Division III playoff tournament starting this week.

The men’s basketball team defeated Catholic University by 11 points this past Saturday to earn their 6th Landmark Conference championship in the past 8 years with Danzig as their coach. The Royals finished their season with a 22-5 record. The team will now make their 26th NCAA tournament appearance in school history. Their first game will be played this Friday at Babson College in Massachusetts against Baruch College.

Although the girls were just one point shy of a Landmark Conference Championship, they will still be playing in the NCAA Division III tournament. The women’s team finished their season with a 24-3 record. Despite their loss Saturday night, the team received a bid to the tournament and will host the first and second round games this Friday and Saturday. The Lady Royals will compete against Eastern Connecticut in the first round game.

Wishing the best of luck to both teams!

On a different note, Thursday will be my first visit to the Jefferson School and I am extremely excited to meet the teachers and students. I am hopeful that I will have a very positive educational experience and am looking forward to sharing my story with you.

Seniors and alumni, don’t forget to register for this years Shamrockin’ Eve to be held on Friday, March 13th. This year the theme is “Shamrockin’ For A Reason.” All money raised will be used to support the University’s Textbook Scholarship Fund, a scholarship set up for incoming freshman in need. Students selected will each receive a $600 voucher to the bookstore to help cover the cost of textbooks. Candidates chosen are incoming freshman that have an outstanding need for aid and are chosen based on financial aid. This year, we are eager to raise enough money to present 7 students with this scholarship. Here is the link to register:


Have a good week everyone & be safe in this snow! :)

Class Trips!

Hi everyone, I hope you are all staying warm!

As part of the Advanced Pediatric course I am taking this semester, we are required to make 3 visits to Jefferson Center, about 5 minutes away from campus. Jefferson Center is a special education school with classes for a wide variety of students, including multi-disabled, elementary autistic, secondary autistic, and life skills.

For our visits, we have been paired with one of our classmates and assigned to a teacher and classroom at the school. Our first visit will just include an observation of the classroom. During this time, we will have a chance to introduce ourselves to the teachers and students and gain a better understanding of the classroom dynamic and environment. I am not sure what to expect but I am really looking forward to this first visit.

For our second visit, we will be planning a classroom activity. This activity will be based off the observations that were made during our first visit, as well as a discussion with the teacher about what she feels is appropriate for the class and the needs of all the students. I am hoping that this will be a fun day for both myself and the students in the class.

During our third and final visit, we will be administering a standardized assessment, most likely to the teacher of the classroom. As an occupational therapist, the use of standardized assessments is essential to promote evidence-based outcomes and demonstrate high-quality, effective services to our clients. Therefore, it is important that we learn how to properly administer these assessments as students in order to ensure we can effectively use them as professionals. This will be a good opportunity for us to practice using a standardized assessment in a real classroom setting.

In addition to our 3 visits to the Jefferson Center, we will also be running a play group at the Trinity Child Care Center. This is an officially designated Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care Center in the Scranton area. The program was designed for children who are medically fragile or technology dependent, and require medical care throughout the day. As a class, we will be running a play group for the children at the day care. I am looking forward to this fun and educational experience.

As you can see, I have plenty of class trips scheduled for the semester. These opportunities offer a way to apply the skills learned in the classroom to a real-life setting, something I think is extremely important and beneficial. Our professors are always searching for ways to incorporate hands-on learning into our program and I feel this has made a huge, positive impact on my overall learning experience. Looking forward to sharing my experiences with you!

Have a good week! :)

The Beginning of Many Lasts

As my last semester as a University of Scranton student begins, so does the long list of “lasts” that come along with it. My last drive back to school after winter break. My last first day of classes. My last syllabus week. The list goes on. It is almost impossible to wrap my head around the fact that once May 30th arrives, my life as a University of Scranton student will end.

But a new chapter of my life will begin and I am confident that I will be ready for whatever life has in store for me because of the lessons I have learned and experiences I have had during these past 5 years.

Enough of the depressing talk. I am convinced to make this last semester a memorable one. There are so many exciting things to look forward to..even if they are the last ones I will have the privilege of experiencing.

First, Shamrockin’ Eve will be held on Friday, March 13th. This is an event hosted by the University of Scranton exclusively for alumni in the classes of 2005-2014 and seniors in the class of 2015. As a senior last year, I attended my first Shamrockin’ Eve and am extremely excited to attend the event again this year. 

Secondly, the Annual OT Graduate Student Spring Fling will be held on March 28th. This is a fundraising event for the Thomas Jerome House (TJH), a nonprofit organization serving troops with traumatic brain injuries. TJH was created by Scranton alumnus after a fellow classmate CPT Thomas Jerome Hromisin, who was injured while serving in Iraq.

Finally, May 18th will be Scholarship Day for all of the graduate students of the OT Master’s program. This is a day when all our professors, other Scranton faculty, and our parents gather to celebrate all we have accomplished over the past 5 years. The graduate students, including myself, will present our research projects that we have been working since the beginning of the school year. It is an exciting day that we work very hard for and as much as I do not want to rush this semester, it is a special event to look forward to.

These are just a few of the many great events I’m sure I will be attending throughout the semester. I can’t wait to see what exciting times the next few months have in store for me.

Kara :)

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!

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