Going back to school for the second O&P discipline has its benefits. The first time around was challenging because the field was fairly new to me, but now I feel much more comfortable in the profession and also with the blended learning program at Northwestern University. The program is broken down into two parts: 22 weeks of distance learning and 11 weeks of onsite clinical work in Chicago.
During the distance learning portion, we watch countless hours of lectures online every week, take timed tests/quizzes, work on group projects, and write on discussion boards. We are full-time students and many of my classmates are also balancing full-time work and families. When I get overwhelmed with my studies, I think of my classmates who are raising children and working full-time positions to put things into perspective.
One of the requirements before graduating is to accrue 250 hours of clinical work in the discipline of study. If you work at an O&P office, than accumulating those hours is fairly simple. But, in my case, finding an office was a bit of a challenge because my husband’s job recently moved us across the country to a small town. In hopes to find a new site as great as the one I left, I reached out to every O&P office in the new area. I sent out e-mails, made phone calls and left several messages. Quickly, I found out that practitioners are busy people. After weeks of no response, I found one last office in the area to contact in hopes that I could team up with them and get some experience. The practitioner responded immediately and was excited to have a young student to teach. I am so happy to be able to learn in the clinical setting as well as in the classroom. I am now able to apply what I learn in my lectures to real life situations. Being a student is not easy, but I am confident it will be worth it in the end.
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