Reflecting on 2016 and Recharging for 2017


2016 was a whirlwind for me.

Rang in the 2016 New Year with my family in Epcot along with everyone else in the world, the park was filled to max capacity!


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Wrote my first blog post out of frustration, necessity, and determination to advocate for DO and OT after one too many individuals questioned whether osteopathic physicians are “real doctors” and since half of my friends were convinced that I was just going to occupational therapy graduate school in order to help people find jobs. Here is my first blog post ever inspired by my fiance and his classmates on their way to becoming osteopathic physcians.    If you are interested in OT or have no idea what it is, click here.


Finished an exhausting but exciting last semester of OT school in the classroom. Praise to be to God- no more research although I loved my group.

Watched my little brother graduate from high school across the same stage I walked across years prior,

Completed a long, mentally taxing, but rewarding 12 weeks at an outpatient pediatric clinic for my first Level 2 OT fieldwork. Learned a lot about myself, found a new appreciation for parents of special needs kids, and increased my tolerance on caffeine. Curious to what OP peds is like through an OT lens, click here.

Became engaged to my college sweetheart who thoughtfully proposed to me in the most meaningful way -also he picked the loveliest antique ring out himself- we only went ring shopping once and that was a year and a half prior to the date we got engaged!- Who knew that the then 18-year-old boy in my freshman bio class would not only be my biology tutor, but also my husband! Click here to read “Our Story”.

asked six beautiful friends to be my bridesmaids,

mini vacation to Orlando with my parents and my uncle and aunt from Northern Ireland and their two princesses -saw Disney world through the lens of a captivated 3-year-old, priceless-


spent three months in Auburn and was convinced to move there because of my person, the people of Auburn, my experience at my 12 week second Level 2 fieldwork in an inpatient rehab/SNF setting, and the city itself, went out of my comfort zone to give a 45 min presentation to Auburn University’s Pre-OT/PT club eek, joined a weekly bible study with 20+ kindhearted girls, Click to read about my experience in an inpatient rehab setting.

adopted a grumpy 3-year-old cat whom at the time James and I didn’t know he was a Scottish Fold Hemingway cat (folded ears, and has six toes!!)

Coley/Seidel Thanksgiving

survived and thrived at my first Seidel/Coley Thanksgiving -James has a really large, but really loving family,

accepted my first real OT job offer in an acute inpatient rehab hospital  where I get the pleasure to work in a unit that is newly renovated, provides me with mentorship, and is staffed by a number of awesome physicians, physical therapists and assistants, occupational therapists and assistants, speech therapists, social workers, nurses, and care assistants,


presented my final case poster and graduated with my Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy with my Class of 2016 -2 and a 1/2 years of continuous grad school, check,

hosted James for his first Weyer/Cyr Christmas,

a month of relaxing, hanging out with my family, somewhat studying for my national  OT boards exam (please help me God),  reconnecting with high school friends that I hadn’t seen in quite awhile, wedding planning, and running down the beaches of the MS Gulf Coast.

2016 was awesome, but I am ready for 2017 and to begin my career as an occupational therapist and marry my fiancé!! I am not one to make crazy resolutions but I do have a few things I anticipate doing this new year.

2017 aspirations…

  • Be more confident in myself and say “no” more often.

  • Call my grandparents once a week and tell them about my day.

  • Learn to enjoy running again without feeling the pressure to run the times when I was running collegiately.

  • Sign up and complete a half marathon.

  • Pass my National OT boards exam. This one is a have to.. so not really an aspiration.

  • Seek mentorship and be my personal best entry level therapist without forgetting that it is okay to ask for help.

  • Be a mentor to undergraduate students who are interested in OT.

  • Be more patient with myself and others.

  • Be present, instead of worrying about the next step on my to do list.

  • Eat more whole foods. Including choosing specialty coffee drinks without syrups. sigh.

  • Write and submit an article for the OT practice magazine.

Cheers to 2017!!

I’d love to hear your goals for 2017! Comment below!

stay mOTivated,



mOTivation to Power through Peds- OT Level 2 Fieldwork





Ready to graduate in December! One Level 2 rotation down, 1 to go!



A lot of life has happened since my last post (3 months ago oops)!


Turning 23 and watching little brother walk across the same stage that I did in 2011 to preparing for “studenting” outside of the OT school classroom to switching from girlfriend to future bride   (f o r e v e r      j a m m e n)     to learning that kids are exhausting but rewarding to finishing my fieldwork with a sense of fulfillment and more.

What is Level 1 OT fieldwork?

Well, for starters Level 1’s are definitely not created for the student to achieve independent performance such as the expectation of  Level 2. Rather, Level 1’s are for increasing the comfort level between student therapists and clients with an emphasis on…

“experiences designed to enrich didactic coursework through directed observation and participation in selected aspects of the occupational therapy process” (

These experiences vary from school to school but typically include about 5 settings in which a student will observe and participate in intervention planning/implementation to a wide variety of clients (developmental delay, Autism Spectrum, Down Syndrome, amputees, war vets-God Bless them-, physically/mentally impaired, survivors of strokes, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, motor vehicle accidents… the list goes on and on-in all sorts of settings ranging from inpatient rehab to acute care to neuro/lymphedema to outpatient pediatrics to skilled nursing facility (SNF) to schools based. Some occupational therapy schools may choose to send their students to one site for 5 consecutive days and then complete coursework the following weeks. My school –University of South Alabama-
Go jags– sends their students to a site once a week for 5 weeks between semesters 3 and 5. The student continues to receive graduate level education in a regular classroom 3 days a week in addition to 1 day of clinical fieldwork. For example, I attended the following 5 settings for my Level 1 experiences: acute care, SNF, outpatient pediatrics, schools-based, and hands/orthopedic.

What is Level 2 OT fieldwork?

First things first, this is the realist-no matter if you were an all A’s student or if you barely inched your way through OT school, your success in fieldwork is dependent on your work ethic, interpersonal skills, ability to handle stress, personal research, flexibility, among other characteristics– this in addition to applying the knowledge learned through curriculum work and previous Level 1’s. In my opinion those aforementioned qualities are much more important than your book smarts. There is none of the 89.99 nonsense that makes you angry at school when you receive a B when you worked your bum off the whole semester instead of an A-whereas the classmate next to you with an 81.0 receives a B without half the stress (or hard work) you put yourself through >>type A problems<<. In OT Level 2 fieldwork land it is simply Pass or Fail. If you happen to achieve 170 out of 170 so be it, but that does not earn you a golden star and you aren’t cooler than your peers even though that is the ideal score.

For Level 2 Fieldwork, the American Occupational Therapy Association Standards requires a minimum of 24 weeks full-time (my school requires two 12-week rotations in totally different settings) for occupational therapy students. All students must complete the fieldwork (both Level 1 and Level 2) required by their school program.

In a nutshell, you can think of Level 1 fw like an opportunity to observe and then treat with less emphasis on the “why” you chose specific interventions and much more emphasis on learning through example. Level 2 fw is like Level 1 fw on steroids. Perhaps the first week is more laissez-faire, but after that it is time to apply your knowledge gained from school and previous observation/treatment and truly transition from the “academic” mindset to the “application and adapt interventions as you go” mindset.

See more information on Level 2 fw here.


Prep Prior to Pediatric Level 2

After 2 years of going, going, gooooing in the classroom (including 5 Level 1’s), it is pretty natural to feel a little burnt out. With that being said I didn’t touch a book or read anything OT Practice/AOTA/Pinterest anything occupational therapy related for the first week after the conclusion of my fifth semester. After I enjoyed a little leisure time (important area of occupation!!!), I was well-rested, nervous, and excited for my quickly approaching rotation. At my school our main Early Childhood Development course was in our first semester, which felt like an eternity ago. I definitely had to brush up on infant reflexes, developmental milestones, age appropriate grasping skills, and interventions as well as a multitude of other topics. The fact of the matter is that in OT WORLD pediatrics is a specialty area.

And so it begins…

The first week flew by and I remember being amazed by the fast-paced expectations. In contrast to adult outpatient rehab where you may have an easier time communicating and coaxing your clients into performing an important skill (by reminding them that they need to do these interventions to get well in order to perform activities of their interest again or to get back to work or even in order to increase their independence in personal daily skills), in pediatrics you have to truly incorporate the child’s favorite toy or game in addition to communicating at their level to accomplish client-centered therapy. Peds OT is all about manipulating or adapting a game or a toy to address an array of skills. And don’t get me started on handwriting (who would have known there is literally like 10 different types of writing paper…)and appropriate grasp on a writing utensil because that is a skill you learn to incorporate during treatment (tx) sessions on the job—aka have stickers or something awesome to bribe a child with to complete this portion of therapy–or think multisensory and have the child don (place) his/her 1st digit or a q-tip into shaving cream, paint, or tactile sand!!

Always aim to address multiple goals!

OT is synonymous for bringing craftiness and creativity and aligning interventions to theory! Below are a few different “toys” I made to address multiple needs at the OP clinic.

The Hungry Caterpillar

As a child I really loved The Hungry Caterpillar. On Pinterest I saw many different button snakes that pedi OTs and preschool teachers made to help their kiddos learn to button. Once again it is all about how you can take an activity and adapt it to address numerous skills. For my Hungry Caterpillar button snake I bought all of my craft materials at Michael’s (felt paper, button, string, hot glue gun), and went to work… some of my food items came out a little better than others but the kids loved it!!

So what’s so cool about a book and a button snake??

It addressed the following skills depending on how I presented it to the child…

  1. Unbuttoning/buttoning medium sized buttons –> to decrease caregiver burden in this self-care dressing task
  2. 2 step directions (verbally give directions to retrieve 2 felt food pieces)–> to improve auditory processing, memory retrieval, recall
  3. Simple figure ground (spread the felt pieces out in front of the child and have him/her find a specific piece)–> to improve ability to find a specific object in a busy background such as independently retrieving a desired clothing item in a messy drawer full of clothes at home
  4. Pattern imitation/color matching or identification–> to improve sequential memory skills
  5. Gross motor skills(indirectly)-Spread the pieces out on one side of the room and have the child frog jump, crab walk, army crawl, etc to the other side of the room with the pieces–> to increase age appropriate balance, body posture, endurance, ability to wear bear for hand strengthening.

Visual Schedule Board

Naturally, I feel better when I have a tentative schedule for my day in mind. I’m quite certain I am not the only individual who feels this way. I keep my planner handy in my purse for this reason; however, without my planner I can still perform my tasks for the day in the correct sequence and timing (but I feel anxious not being able to physically scratch it off my never ending to do list). That is not as easy of a feat for child with a disability such as a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. For this reason, I decided to revamp the clinic’s visual board with the following simple materials (clothespins, paint brush, felt paper, icon pictures, sturdy board).

Reasons to use a visual schedule board…

  • Visual processing with pictures rather words eliminates reading comprehension demand
  • Provides predictability and structure
  • Provides a point of reference for a child to know when is the next break or “recess”
  • teaches organization and improves transitioning between activities
  • Increases inclusion in regular ed classes
  • Helpful in task analysis

Sensory Bottles


If you are in need of a quick sensory calming strategy that can be used in a variety of contexts (such as in a car, in the grocery store, etc), a sensory bottle may be the just-right option for you. These are cheap and are made by upcycling bottles and filling them with a multitude of different items such as colored sand, pebbles, water beads, sequins, and glitter. If a child is having a behavioral outburst or mini meltdown and you aren’t in an environment that provides you with the atmosphere to apply deep proprioceptive input or other calming input, this may be an easy and effective solution in effort to improve one’s ability to self-regulate by providing an outside calming source (similar to newborns that learn to regulate their breathing and body temp through skin to skin contact with their mom).

After completing my 12 weeks in an outpatient pediatric setting I firmly believe (and so does my CI) that if the opportunity to work in peds presents itself, I can do it wholeheartedly and effectively. After completing 16 6-8 page evaluation write ups (and those are the ones I wrote by myself), 36 intervention plans weekly, a few reassessments, multiple mini projects, 10 progress notes, and countless detailed daily notes later, I am thankful and relieved!

When you treat/”play” with a kid, you get the opportunity to impact the kid and the parent’s life and that’s truly special.


Nevertheless, in the middle of my fw two awesome life events happened…

  1. James and his classmates finished their first year of medical school!!! So proud.
#9 in the air, #1 in my heart



sunshine finisher

Curious about medical school?? Not sure if it’s for you or not?? Did you know there are two routes to becoming fully licensed physicians that can treat, diagnose, and perform surgery?? Allopathic vs. Osteopathic (and no this is not referring to naturopathic “doctors”…). MD vs DO and their pros and cons—-> MD vs. DO: DO your research

2. James proposed!!!! I get to be his forever bride!

little did I know that in a few hours I’d be engaged to a sunshine




Literally up to an hour before he proposed with the most romantic plan ever, I was writing evaluation write ups and intervention plans for my kiddos.  I live a blessed life and he is the best part of myself. Who knows maybe we will open some type of clinic together one day:)



Next rotation begins Monday in a SNF/inpatient rehab facility. Wish me luck!!!

Stay mOTivated,



Low Vision: DO you see the pOTential?

“It’s not what you look at that matters,

it’s what you see.”

-Henry David Thoreau

A little cornea, I know,

But… the point is that a group of people looking at an identical image can see and feel different things. An avid runner who wakes up in the hospital from a car wreck to a double BKA will likely see things differently than before her injury. Her accident may not have directly affected her vision, but it definitely will change the way she sees, perceives, and interprets things. Key point is that our clients, with or without impaired vision, may see something completely different than we see when looking through our typical healthcare professional “lens”.

Be empowered to SEE from the client’s perspective.

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—–>Did you know that you can be an occupational therapist (OT) and work in an eye clinic or vision center? Or better yet get certified in this specialty area? OT is everywhere. What a time to be alive.

—–>Did you know that there are ophthalmologists from an osteopathic (rather than allopathic) background? It takes a special person to go through medical school with the intention of becoming an ophthalmologist. It takes an even more special person to graduate from an osteopathic medical school and be accepted into a traditionally allopathic ophthalmology residency. But it’s possible. It has been done before. And I have a friend in DO school who will pursue a residency in a few years in ophthalmology and pursue it well. War eagle, I digress.

Aubie would like to thank all of his vision team members for helping him see better and keeping his glasses stylish.



Before diving into the job duties of different healthcare professionals including MD/DOs, ODs, OTs, and more, first I want to discuss some general vision components as well as  a few eye conditions related to low vision.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, “Low vision is a loss of eyesight that makes   e v e r y d a y   tasks difficult. A person with low vision may find it difficult or impossible to accomplish activities such as reading, writing, shopping, watching television, driving a car or recognizing faces.”

Clients with low vision are more inclined to rely on others to perform a variety of ADLs and IADLs….hmm I’m pretty sure those are two of the several occupation areas under an OT’s scope of practice. Sounds to me like occupational therapy services can definitely benefit a client who fits this definition in order to address how visual barriers are hindering occupational performance in a variety of contexts.

Not sure what  OT is? Click for more details on the occupation who works to help you live a meaningful and purposeful life at —> OT: the art and science therapy

But what is Low Vision?

  • Less than normal vision that cannot be corrected by lenses, medication, or surgical procedures

  • Is different than blindness (an individual with low vision will have residual vision-a blind individual will not)

  • Is a loss that is not a natural part of normal aging

  • Is a giant umbrella term that includes many disorders or conditions

  • characterized by impairments in visual field or visual acuity

For videos of hope and empowerment directly from clients who have low vision, click to view from the National Eye Institute.

Key Terms-Visual Components

  • Visual Field: This is the range of vision that we have. Try it. Look straight ahead and focus on one object. Can you see 60 degrees up and down (central field) and 180 degrees side to side (peripheral field)?
  • Visual Acuity: The sharpness of an image.
  • Contrast Sensitivity: Can you distinguish the different contrasts? Black to grey to white?
  • Visual Perception: Can you process the image? If a client cannot process the image, maybe there are problems with the neuron folds-the eye is intact but the brain is not receiving the message.

a few of the most common conditions related to LV

  1. Cataracts: clouding of lens
  2. Age related macular degeneration: damage to central part of retina-two types-wet or dry
  3. Diabetic retinopathy: secondary to diabetes-results from change in blood vessels in the retina
  4. Glaucoma: damage to the optic nerve-normal fluid pressure in the eye rises and results in vision loss

To learn in depth about these conditions and several other eye conditions, click here.

Eye sketched my eyes.


the Teamdream

Why are these team members so intelligent?

Cause they are good pupils. 



These are the guys (or girls of course!!) who break up with Med School the Mistress after 4 years of ups and down and trials and triumphs and meet their >>>perfect  prescription<<<–an ophthalmology residency for X amount of years.


According to American Academy of Ophthalmology, “ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in their levels of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college and at least eight years of additional medical training, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and surgery”.

He or she comes from either an allopathic (MD) OR an osteopathic (DO) medical school background. Don’t worry there was also a time I didn’t know that there were two types of physicians, (cue eye rolls) but it’s a real thing people and they (the doctors that DO) have been around longer than you think. I did the research for you though so click for more information on the differences and similarities of both types of physicians here —> MD vs. DO: DO your research

Some ophthalmologists who have a   h e a r t   for a specific area of medical eye care may choose to become subspecialists by completing more in-depth training. This training is known as a fellowship and can be in a variety of areas such as retina, cornea, glaucoma, and others…

(aka lots of school but they get through it by keeping their eyes on the prize, literally and figuratively).


These are the guys and gals who treat refractive error with glasses, contacts, or magnifiers. Yes, you (as a patient) address them as Dr. ____ . Rightfully so because they worked hard for their doctorate, butttttttt just remember they are different than an MD or DO ophthalmologist because they do not go to medical school and are not medical doctors.

Optometrists concentrate mainly on structure and function of the eyes. These are frame gurus who are licensed to practice optometry which is typically primary vision care. ODs may perform vision exams, prescribe and dispense corrective lenses, detect eye abnormalities and prescribe some medications for some eye diseases. They receive a four year doctoral-level degree in optometry post-undergrad. Optometrists do typically receive advanced clinical experience in the field under a mentor after graduating. If you are interested in learning more about optometry, click here !

Faithful to my annual eye checkup visits but I could do without the dilated eyes…


Why do optometrists live long lives you ask????

Because they di-late.


This vision team member uses prescriptions supplied by ophthalmologists or sometimes optometrists to design and fit frames, glasses,  and contact lenses. They do not test vision and do not diagnoses or provide treatment for eye diseases.


This certification was created due to the diversity of professions with interest in working with the low vision client population. To meet this demand, a committee comprised of individuals representing the different disciplines active in low vision established this interdisciplinary certification. Some of the committee members represented orientation and mobility, optometry, special education for the visually impaired, rehabilitative counseling, and others. The first low vision certificates were issued in 1997 to eligible therapists who achieved passing scores. This exam was revised in 2005 by the Academy for the Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP).

Occupational therapists are among the professionals who are active in attaining this certification. Perhaps what makes OTs attracted to this certification is the fact that the CLVT does not just address a client’s visual impairments (visual fields, contrast sensitivity function, color vision, visual acuity, visual perceptual skills, visual motor skills, the list goes on…) but also evaluates a client’s ADL, IADL, educational, and work performance which are all areas of occupation that OTs address with their clients. In addition, CLVTs also evaluate a client’s quality of life and address psychosocial aspects that may be hindered due to vision loss/low vision.


These members of the low vision rehabilitation team provide educational instruction to visually impaired individuals in hopes to teach their clients to “utilize their remaining senses to determine their position within their environment and to negotiate safe moment from one place to another”(

COMS may teach an assortment of skills including training individuals with low vision to use canes, guide dogs, or electronic devices for safer travel.




The SCLV is for occupational therapists only. (There is also a SCLV-A for occupational therapy assistants.) It was established in 2006 by AOTA in order to provide a formal recognition of OTs who have both specialized knowledge and clinical expertise with the low vision population.

An OT with this specialty certification is experienced in collaborating with ophthalmologists, optometrists, and other vision team members in addition to experience in the use of optical devices and assistive technology in this area. Basically, you are a huge deal in the OT world if you achieve this recognition by fulfilling all of the requirements, passing the exam, and moreeeeeee-minimum of 600 hours delivering OT services in the certification area to clients in the past 5 calendar years-it is pretty intense.

the OT vision

  • 1990–Health Care Finance Administration expanded the meaning of “physical impairment” to also include low vision
  • 1999–The Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999… I repeat since the year 1999 physicians have had the go-ahead to refer clients with a sole diagnosis of low vision to receive occupational therapy services. Hashtag blessed from all occupational therapists who receive referral sources from our MD/DO friends.

mOTivated to intervene-OT interventions for Low Vision

OT focus is on the assessment and intervention of the PERSON, ENVIRONMENT, and OCCUPATION.

“Many older adults experience age-related vision changes that can’t be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. Occupational therapy practitioners help people with low vision function at the highest possible level by preventing accidents and injury (e.g., improving lighting), teaching new skills (e.g., eccentric viewing, visual tracking), modifying the task or environment (e.g., recommending magnifiers), and promoting a healthy lifestyle (e.g., ensuring they can participate in their daily activities).”

-American Occupational Therapy Association


***many of these objectives listed below can be addressed by multiple members of the team; however, an occupational therapist -uniquely- provides intervention to address these items with the goal of facilitating occupational adaptation to improve occupational performance… this is just a preview of how awesome and useful OTs can be as members of the lv rehab team***


  • Eccentric viewing:

    • Encourage the client to use the area of her retina that has not been damaged
  • Visual scanning

    • Practice locating an object of interest in the environment-perhaps have client locate a list of items from the pantry for meal preparation (IADL) task
  • Residual vision practice

  • Increase coping strategies

    • Decrease fear of unknown or fear of progressive vision loss-provide psychosocial support to facilitate development of coping skills
  • *be aware of signs of depression and refer to mental health practitioners as needed


  • Home modifications

    • Safety recommendations-reduce clutter in home
    • Color landing areas at top and bottom stairs to provide high contrast to increase visibility and decrease risk of falls
    • Use white plates on a dark tablecloth
    • Wrap brightly colored tape onto pot handles to increase visibility
  • Increase lighting

    • Recommend better lighting sources-possibly adaptive equipment-change lighting placement
  • Eliminate glare

  • Tactile Markings

    • Ex: a home health OT trains client on tactile markings on frequently used appliances-can simply use puff paint from a local craft store to mark specific knobs or buttons on a stove, microwave, etc to help client foster independence
  • Organization System

    • Encourage client and caregiver/significant other to have objects in their house placed in a manner that is routine and easiest for client to remember and navigate.


  • Task modification

    • Provide task adaptations or supports to continue engagement in as many previous occupations as possible
  • Leisure exploration

    • Facilitate participation in new occupations of interest
  • Community support

    • Give client resources to be active in her community
    • Decrease social isolation by advocating for access to services

Envision the extraordinary.

If you or your loved one is experiencing low vision, you are not alone and deserve access to resources to enable participation in activities that you find to be meaningful. The National Eye Institute has a list of resources here!! What strategies work best for you?

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stay mOTivated,





Have any ideas for my next blog post, please comment below!!



MD vs. DO: DO your research

“An osteopath must know the shape and positions of every bone in the body, as well as that part to which every ligament and muscle is attached. He must know the blood and the nerve supply. He must comprehend the human system as an anatomist, and also from a physiological standpoint. He must understand the form of the body and the workings of it. That is a short way to tell what an osteopath must know.”  

{ A. T. Still  MD, DO }

Lifelong learning

First and foremost… let’s all remember one important thing… A doctor (allopathic or osteopathic) can save your life… BUT AN OT CAN HELP YOU LIVE IT and also advocate for your profession if you’re lucky. >>>NEXT POST IS ON OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY’S DOMAIN AND PROCESS !!!<<<


Neuro block vibes


Now I have to be honest; I did not know what osteopathic medicine was until my boyfriend started to consider applying to DO schools. Even now when I describe osteopathic medical school to my friends or peers, sometimes they hear the words “holistic” or “manipulative medicine” and instantly associate it with chiropractors or alternative medicine or Eastern medicine and  even say things like –> “so will he even be a ‘real’ doctor?” in which I bite my lip from saying something sarcastic like    “Are you in medical school?”    ***crickets (that individual pretty much immediately becomes quiet…)

  • When people say things like that I used to get pretty feisty -I sort of still get annoyed  but that is why I am using this blog to       actively advocate     and educate others in hopes they will be more receptive of both professions that are near to my heart and important to our growing society.

The fact of the matter is that osteopathic medicine is not a new philosophy or approach to medicine. My opinion as an occupational therapy student is that it’s time we get behind the DOctors that truly DO… (***especially if you are a PT, OT, or SLP student who will one day receive referrals from MDs and DOs and should therefore respect and probably learn about both types of physicians).

See my comparisons chart I created below of MDs and DOs to appreciate the similarities and differences of the only two types of licensed physicians in the U.S.

Screenshot (17)

Theodore Roosevelt once said…

“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” So let’s take a look back in history to see where it all began.

MDs – History

  • Practice of medicine dates back to colonial times–aka there have been medical doctors in existence for a looooooooong time
  • 1766: New Jersey Medical Society-1st organization of medical professionals in the colonies
  • Early 1880s: Medical societies developed their own society based training programs called “proprietary” medical colleges
  • 1847: About 200 delegates from 40 societies, 28 colleges, and the District of Columbia met and formed the American Medical Association (AMA)
    • Elected president Nathaniel Chapman
    • AMA set higher education standards for MDS that were again revised in 1852
  • 18021876: 62  stable medical schools established
    • 1810: 650 students enrolled; 100 graduates
    • 1900: numbers rose to 25,000 students enrolled; 5,200 graduates- nearly all white males
  • Doctors began choosing to “specialize” in the mid 19th century
  • Check out more information about the history of MDs here!
  • Fast forward to 2016: More MDs choose to specialize than DOs (key word here is choose-there are a multitude of MD students who have passion for non-specialized practices and thank God they do because we need them!)


  • 1828: A baby boy by the name of A. T. Still who would grow up to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a doctor was born
  • Early 1860s: He became a doctor (MD) and went on to serve as a surgeon during the Civil War for the Union Army
  • 1864: His 3 children died from spinal meningitis. He concluded that the orthodox medical practices of his day were sometimes harmful and ineffective
    • Devoted the next 10 years of his life studying the musculoskeletal system and how it interacts with the other systems in hopes to find better ways to treat diseases and disorders
  • Prior to 1874: all allopathic based medical thinking
  • 1874: Dr. A. T. Still. believed that there was more to medicine than treating patients symptom by symptom
    • His research and clinical observations led him to believe that by correcting structural problems of the body, the body’s ability to heal could improve (Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine-OMM coming in clutch)
  • 1892: Dr. A. T. Still ( MD and a DO – can you believe it ) opened the first osteopathic med school in Kirksville, MO
  • Read more about the beginnings of osteopathic medicine here.
    • Fast forward to 2016: single accreditation system for graduate medical education (more info on this below)


“Today DOs provide comprehensive medical care to patients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and have unlimited practice rights in more than 65 countries. Currently, there are more than 74,000 DOs practicing in the United States in a wide range of medical specialties including surgery, anesthesiology, sports medicine, geriatrics, and emergency medicine.” {}


Now you are asking yourself…  “soooo why have I never been to a doctor with the D.O. credentials?” the short answer-> more than likely you already have came into contact with a doctor of osteopathic medicine


    • 31 DO schools  <  141 MD schools
      • Naturally, there is going to be more MD students, residents, and practicing physicians


    • DO students  =   about 20% of U.S. medical students
      • YOU have a 1 in 5 chance that you have already been treated by a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
      • “In the 2015-16 academic year, colleges are educating over 26,100 future physicians–more than 20 percent of U.S. medical students.”



    • Graduate Medical Education (residency)
    • Single Accreditation System
      • “In early 2014, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) approved an agreement to transition to a single accreditation system for graduate medical education (GME) by July 2020.”
      • Update as of January 25, 2016: 117 programs have submitted applications for ACGME accreditation
      • 95 programs are “pre-accreditation status” and “continued pre-accreditation status”; 11 programs have achieved “initial accreditation”
      • Click here to stay up to date on the MD DO merger

Prior to the merger…there were 2 separate accrediting bodies for Graduate Medical Education.

  1. ACGME –accrediting body for MD students

    • USMLE licensure exam
  2. AOA –accrediting body for DO students

    • COMLEX-USA licensure exam

Medical students could take the USMLE board exam  and go to an (allopathic) ACGME residency or they could take the COMPLEX-USA board exam and go to an (osteopathic) AOA residency. Because there were hundreds more ACGME residencies in different specialties that AOA didn’t have, many DO students also opted to take the USMLE in addition to their COMLEX exam so that they could apply to an ACGME residency.

Now that the merger is officially in progress (remember to click the link above for more info) between the ACGME and AOA, both licensing exams are accepted almost universally. However, this is a work in progress because there are still many ACGME residencies in highly specialized fields that still require the USMLE and haven’t yet accepted the COMLEX licensure scores. So although there has been some strides made in the path of recognizing the benefits of utilizing the merger, there is still some work to be done to fully implement it. Nevertheless, this is the step in the right direction in allowing our rising doctors of both backgrounds to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a residency offered by either philosophy in order to become the best physicians of their potential.

Finally, most importantly, for those of us who have not been called by the Lord to be physicians the best thing we can do in our active participation and support of the profession that serves our families and friends is simply to  —-> pray for them.         Pray for every pre-med student, medical student, resident, practicing physician, and retired physician to look always to Jesus, Our Savior, for guidance in serving others and remaining humble in that service. JESUS is the only one in this world who perfectly serves. His whole life, the way he dealt with the poor and especially the sick, the actions and acts of his simple generosity and his integrity all are apart of his perfect self-giving; this is why we must pray so that our future physicians (allopathic and osteopathic) can fulfill what they have been chosen to do in a manner that pleases God.


I want to close with a quote from Pope Francis in his Message for the XXIX World Youth Day in 2014 where he went to evangelize and speak encouragement to young adults.

“Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path. Simon Peter had the courage to reply: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ If you are able to say yes to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.”

-Pope Francis

Stay tuned for my next blog post–switching gears from osteopathic medicine to my first love –occupational therapy

Stay mOTivated,


Shannen Weyer, OTS


***note: I am simply trying to raise awareness about this profession. I am very thankful for my two orthopedic surgeons (who were both fantastic M.D.s) that have previously operated successfully on both of my not so pretty knees. I look forward to working with M.D.s and D.O.s in the future in order to carry out their occupational therapy referral orders***

intro post: cheers to the student DOctors

VCOM Auburn Inaugural Class of 2019


Is that even a “real” doctor?

Did you really just ask me that (and you’re going into healthcare, cute)?

Coming from the perspective of a second year occupational therapy student in a profession in which even some of my dearest to my heart friends and family members or realistically like 70% of the population don’t know what OT actually is   (no, sorry fam my profession’s end goal isn’t about securing people jobs… well we can definitely enhance your potential life skills to help you get a job but that is like one tiny piece of a 10,000 piece puzzle), I know how it feels to be so passionate about a career so evidence-based yet so unheard of or perhaps not as well-respected.

Thus, I want to start this blog as an insightful post to explore why we should >>>>>>>>>>> all be mOTivated to DO<<<<<<< whatever we feel compelled (within reason of course) to DO to spread awareness of the things we are passionate about.  For me, in this moment, it is to share with others my perception of the doctors that truly D.O.


What occupations fill your day? If you could change them, would you?

Then DO something about it.


If I have learned anything over and over again in OT school it is that the context of each situation serves a different purpose and includes unique underlying factors specific to each individual client. In my case, my typical context involves coffee shops, the Marx library, the swamp (running is a meaningful occupation for me on most days), Sacred Heart Church, the Allied Health Building, another coffee shop, or if we want to talk in OT areas of practice terms–a mixture of ADLs, IADLs, a lot of education and at times not enough leisure. More detail as to what an ADL will be discussed later perhaps in a future post. The point I’m trying to make is that until you are personally involved in a particular context, you cannot adequately relate to the situation… until, that is, a patient or individual offers insight in hopes you can for a moment see through their eyes.


For ex. —>  Before he began the application process, I was attracted to his work ethic and how fulfilled he seemed after a day of shadowing. Before he took the dreaded MCAT, I had no idea of the complexity of such a test and how one little test could determine so much and yet so little of a pre-med student at the same time. Before he began practicing and preparing for interviews, I did not previously know there are two different kinds of licensed physicians in the U.S.

  1. Allopathic : Medical Doctor or M. D.
  2. Osteopathic : Doctor of Osteopathy or D.O.

    OT + DO = holistic dreamteam

Before VCOM Auburn, I had little to no knowledge about the extra 300+ hours a D.O. student spends learning about how the musculoskeletal  system is integrated into the plan of care. I definitely was unaware of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) which is unique to osteopathic schools’ curriculum. Before he became immersed with medical school, I had no idea about the magnitude of what this context represents and consumes of his life ( and hopefully on a relatively soon timetable will consume both of our lives (; ). Before I placed myself in his shoes (his context) I was not able to understand the benefits this approach has to offer its patients.

While I admit to being biased in favor of the Osteopathic route, it is not because I love a first year VCOM student. Yes, that is where my impulsive intent to advocate and educate came from, but my reasons go further than supporting my boyfriend’s aspirations and studies.

Rather, I personally perceive the founding principles of Osteopathic medicine as more HOLISTIC. Also the thought of preventative care as opposed to corrective care just really piques my therapist in the making’s attention.

Whereas there has been a sort of negative stigma toward D.O.’s, if you look at what the American Medical Association and American Osteopathic Association has to say then you will find a more neutral opinion. While M.D. students and D.O. students are trained from a different perspective, at the end of the day the client or patient or whoever is receiving treatment will probably care more about the quality of the treatment provided rather than two letters behind a last name. The majority of patients see the white coat and they correlate that to you being very smart and knowledgeable of all things medically related even if your specialty does not necessarily encompass that area of practice.

At some point my next post will expand on what it is that doctors of osteopathy do and how they compare to medical doctors. I hope that I have sparked some curiosity in at least one person to broaden their mindsets.

For now here are 5 things to ponder.

  1. What are the mission statements of both M.D.’s and D.O.’s?
  2. What does their curriculum mantra consist of? Types of boards? Residencies or fellowship opportunities?
  3. How long has each been existing and what are the suggested growth patterns?
  4. Why do people generally perceive primary care doctors as only “family docs”? Did you know that primary care does not only pertain to family physicians?
  5. What is your personality style and type?

Lastly, I close with his life verse that has kept him mOTivated through his most stressful times and trials so far(and the many more to come2 blocks of med school down at least) by looking to the Lord to pursue the calling he has received.

“As a prisoner for the Lord,

then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”

{     Ephesians    4  :  1     }

 Stay mOTivated,


______________________________________________________ ***note: I am simply trying to raise awareness about this profession. I am very thankful for my two orthopedic surgeons (who were both fantastic M.D.s) that have previously operated successfully on both of my not so pretty knees. I look forward to working with M.D.s and D.O.s in the future in order to carry out their occupational therapy referral orders***