Monday, November 1, 2021

An Unconventional Occupational Therapy Student

I graduated from Temple University in 2017 with a major in Tourism and Hospitality Management. After graduation, I accepted a position with a company and moved to Washington D.C. to work at the Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals (hockey) and Washington Wizards (basketball). I was quickly immersed in the business world as manager of premium clubs and suites, working long event-based hours, managing employees, writing contracts and selling different products.

In 2018, the Capitals were contenders for their first Stanley Cup, and work got increasingly busy. As exhilarating and invigorating as this experience was, I was quickly realizing that this was not a fulfilling career. Yes, it was exciting when I got to see the city come together and win its first Stanley Cup. Yes, it was exciting in the moment when fans were cheering, confetti was streaming down, people were crying, and when I was given my very own Stanley Cup ring from the team. But it wasn’t fulfilling.

I started looking for a new job, one that may feel more “like me.” I stumbled across an opportunity at a hotel in Philadelphia. My job was fun, I got to create relationships with clients, help plan events and create wonderful experiences, but something was still missing. While all of this was going on I was recovering from an injury. That past winter I had a skiing accident and tore my ACL and meniscus, and I had to undergo surgery. The surgery was unsuccessful, and after intense physical therapy, I underwent another surgery seven months later, and another four months after that. During my experience as a patient and seeing my own recovery process unfold, I was inspired and intrigued. I started doing research. I saw both Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) at work and fell in love with the rehabilitation field. I began shadowing, talking to my own physical therapist, interviewing friends in OT school, and decided that OT was the career for me.

While still working at the hotel, I continued shadowing occupational therapists. I also started classes to complete the many missing science-based prerequisite courses that I needed. I researched schools that stood out to me and began filling out my applications. I had a long road ahead of me, and applications were due in a few months. Every night after work I was either in class, studying for the GRE, or shadowing.

In February I got the call from Salus, my top choice, that officials there wanted me to come in for an interview. I was over the moon! I showed up to my interview in a full knee brace and on crutches. The tour guides were wonderful, accommodating, and answered all of my questions. The campus was beautiful, intimate, and charming. I loved the small feel, especially in contrast to the large community at Temple. The staff and faculty who interviewed me were passionate, professional, and full of knowledge. I knew the moment I stepped (crutched) onto this campus that I belonged here.

The biggest draw to Salus is that it took a chance on me. I did not have a science background, my GRE score was average, and I was still taking my last anatomy class so my transcript was incomplete. I told them my story and promised that I would finish my last class in good standing and that I had an unmatchable drive. I received my acceptance letter weeks later.

Fast forward, and now I am in my last didactic semester of OT school. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association and was treasurer of the Student Occupational Therapy Association for four semesters. I am currently president of my class and am a work-study student for two different departments. I also had the opportunity to attend a healthcare service trip to Guatemala over this past summer as the only occupational therapy student, along with nine other Physician Assistant (PA) students from Salus. I have made wonderful, supportive, and caring friends and developed great relationships with my professors. I truly believe that this school is where I was meant to end up.

I am here to tell you that your past does not define your future, that you are capable of whatever you put your mind to. Just because you don’t have a science background does not mean that you cannot be successful in a healthcare graduate program. It is worth it to chase your dreams, no matter how scary the first step or road may seem.

- Robin is a second-year occupational therapy student at Salus University

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Friday, September 3, 2021

Here's the Scoop on Local Legen-dairy Ice Cream Spots

With the summer winding down, there’s only a few more weeks left to experience tasty treats from these local homemade ice cream shops.

(Pennsylvania: Ottsville, Wrightstown, Easton, Chalfont; New Jersey: Lambertville)

Did you know Owowcow is one of the few ice cream companies to be licensed by the department of agriculture to make ice cream from scratch? With an impressive title like that it’s no wonder that this company boasts five locations, each with numerous seasonal and regular flavors to make your mouth water. Choose from classics like House Vanilla and I Hate Chocolate or branch out with Blueberry Lemon or Honey Lavender - either way, you’re sure to leave with a smile.

Uncle Mike’s Homemade Ice Cream (Warminster)

Premium homemade ice cream and sorbet on-site, with ice cream cake and pies available to order, Uncle Mike’s Homemade Ice Cream has something for everyone. Can’t decide which flavor to get? Why not try them all! You can even get mini ice cream sandwiches, with a different ice cream flavor in each. And if you find a flavor you just can’t live without, you can always take a 16-ounce pint of it home.

Carminati Creamery (Glenside)

Technically not ice cream, but don’t hold that against Carminati Creamery! Fresh and homemade with milk from local dairy farms, this gelato will make you forget all about traditional ice cream. The flavors of the day are so fresh that they’re only posted online shortly before opening each day, with updates on new flavors as they run out. Where else will you find flavors like Watermelon Sorbet, Fluffernutter, and Cinnamon Oreo?

Dreams Ice Cream (Glenside)

Don’t be alarmed by the sheer number of flavors (37) at Dreams Ice Cream - you can always choose more than one at a time. As if that’s not enough, toppings range from tried-and-true sprinkles and chocolate syrup to Fruity Pebbles and Cap’N Crunch. If you really want to experience a one-of-a-kind ice cream delight, try its version of an ice cream sandwich: a pressed donut sandwich, made with a glazed donut and the ice cream flavor of your choice.

Sprinkles Ice Cream Shoppe (Elkins Park)

Open year round so you’ll always have a place to curb your ice cream craving, Sprinkles Ice Cream Shoppe has one thing that these other locals don’t: location, location, location. Only a five-minute drive from campus, this sweet shop serves up a multitude of flavors, ranging from Birthday Cake to Salted Caramel Truffle to Peanut Butter Weave. While not made in-house, Sprinkles serves up delicious scoops of Nelson's Ice Cream, lovingly referred to as "Nix besser," or "none better," in Pennsylvania Dutch.

Which of these have you tried? Tag us on social and tell us your favorite shop/flavor!

Friday, August 13, 2021

My Journey to the Speech-Language Pathology Program at Salus

During my freshman year at my undergraduate program at East Stroudsburg University, I did a research project on society’s perceptions of children with fluency disorders and was accepted to present it at the Pennsylvania Speech-Language Hearing Association's (PSHA) annual convention.

In March 2018 at the convention, I had the privilege to meet Robert Serianni, the department chair/program director of the Speech-Language Pathology program at Salus, in person and discuss my research as well as learn more about Salus. After that day, I knew that Salus was my top choice for graduate school; professor Serianni was so welcoming and kind. I had done quite a bit of my own research on the program and fell in love with the on-campus clinic, the Speech-Language Institute (SLI), and the atmosphere that Salus seemed to create.

In summer 2019, I was able to observe in the SLI and watch Salus students and staff interact in such a professional yet friendly way. It showed how kind the staff was, but also how willing they were to help the student clinicians anytime they had a question during their sessions. This just solidified even more for me how amazing Salus was and how, unlike any other program I was looking at, they seemed to not only care about your professional goals and how they could help you achieve them, but your personal goals as well.

Fast forward to 2020 — I was talking with two of my friends who both recently graduated from Salus in Spring 2021 (Sydnee Curran and Hannah Jaskuta), asking them every possible thing you could ask about Salus. They were both so excited to share how amazing their experience was (even through the COVID-19 pandemic) and how the professional staff at Salus walked with them through every single step to ensure their success in the program. They had so many great things to say about the school, the program and the people, and that just made me even more excited.

I researched every program I applied to and compared their classes, their clinic, and their affiliations with children’s hospitals in the area (pediatric dysphagia in a children’s hospital setting is my dream!) and Salus constantly blew me away. Their classes are geared toward every single aspect of their field, which ensures that students get a taste of everything before going out into the field. The on-campus clinic is so innovative and accessible for students, and they’re constantly adding more things that will benefit my education.

I applied the day that the application process opened in July 2020 and had actually started my CSDCAS application my freshman year of undergrad because I was so excited to finally get to this point. I started to tear up as I submitted my application because I knew that all of the stress and hard moments in undergrad had finally led me to a moment that would truly make or break my professional career.

In November/December 2020, I was invited for an interview and finally felt as though things were falling into place. I already knew that Salus was my top choice, but the interview is what truly solidified that for me. The staff who interviewed me asked me not only about what I wanted to do in the field, but what I wanted to do in life. They made jokes and laughed with me about life and their time in the field, as well as really took the time to get to know me not only as a student, but as a person. After that interview I knew 120% that Salus is where I belonged and where I would be the most successful in my professional endeavors.

Jump forward a few more weeks and I was sitting in my bedroom when I got an email from Salus Admissions congratulating me for being accepted into the program. I burst out crying tears of joy as I called my fiancé (now husband) and family. We all shared a happy crying moment over the phone together because they too knew how much I loved this school.

I feel beyond grateful to be able to start at Salus in just about a week's time and cannot wait to become a part of what is, in my opinion, the greatest SLP program in the world. I know I will be challenged, but I also know that my fellow students and staff will be there for me no matter what happens along the way. I truly do believe that Salus is where I’m meant to be, and I’m so excited to begin this next step in my professional journey.

- Rachel is a first-year speech-language pathology student at Salus University

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Friday, July 30, 2021

Top 3 Local Coffee Shops

Hi everyone! Recently, I’ve been on the hunt for good coffee places close to campus, and after trying out some places, I’ve compiled a list of the top 3 coffee shops:

#3 Starbucks (proximity 1.0 mile)

At third place, comes Starbucks. I tried my best to stay away from the popular coffee chains but it was just too good and too convenient not to mention. It’s very close to campus, a three minute drive, but if you are looking to get some exercise or stretch your legs as a study break you can walk down PA-611 (there is a sidewalk)!

While everyone has experienced Starbucks, this location is one of the best I have been to. Their service is fast and they never run out of your favorite drinks. Plus, they always play good music! Now that COVID restrictions have been lifted, you won’t need a mask if you are vaccinated and you can even have a seat to enjoy your coffee inside.

#2 Sumatra Cafe (proximity 0.5 miles)

This one was a very tough one to put at number two because they are a family-run business and they have the best indoor seating, serve the best breakfast (their egg and cheese hash brown spinach wrap is delicious) and make the best iced tea, too! However, their coffee choices are a bit limited for them to be first in a list of the top three coffee shops! Their iced coffee and lattes are definitely top but they do not serve cold brew which was a bit of a bummer. I must mention though, this has to be the best place outside of campus to study and just enjoy the aesthetics!

#1 White Horse Coffee & Creamery (proximity 0.7 miles)

My top recommendation is White Horse Coffee & Creamery. They have all your favorite coffee drinks at a slightly lower price, and my favorite is their cold brew. They also serve light breakfast, including pastries which can be heated up (my favorite is the chocolate chip croissant). In addition, they have very comfortable seating, so you can definitely sit and study inside or outdoor. The reason this is my top choice is because of its amazing coffee and location, it has great parking space and is also a short walk from campus (also down PA-611 but a bit closer than Starbucks). As an added bonus, they serve some amazing ice cream!!!

- Ayah is an optometry student at Salus University

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Optometry School

In just a few weeks, I will officially become a second-year student! Crazy how quickly time has flown.  

Although looking back, the days seemed to never end. With constant schoolwork and studying, it still doesn’t feel real that I am so close to finishing off my first year. I am filled with so much excitement, but also a sprinkle of fear. It seems super overwhelming, but I already made it this far. With my study techniques and motivation, I am ready to tackle another year head-on. 

Getting adapted to my first year of graduate school took a lot of trial and error. I changed up my study techniques several times, but I think I finally found what works for me. 

So, here are a couple tips that I wish I knew before I started optometry school; 

1. Know your “Why” 

Having a strong purpose for going into a rigorous four-year program is a huge necessity. You will be making numerous personal sacrifices that require a lot of self-control. Many weekends may need to be spent buckling down on schoolwork or studying; grad school waits for no one, so you don’t want to be left behind. By having a strong reason to be there at the back of your mind at  all times, this helps to really bring you back and recognize that all that you are doing is worth it.  

2. Be open to change 

When all is said and done, everyone has the end goal of becoming an optometrist. But you must be aware that there are many paths to take even after you become an optometrist. Will you be in a private practice or corporate? Will you take a residency or become a fellow? Where do you want to practice, since every state has different regulations? Your goals will shift or become more and more specific as you continue through schooling, so you must not have tunnel vision. Be open to different paths and the possibilities are endless. Even as a first-year, the future I have imagined has changed so many times already. This is completely normal.  

3. Don’t compare yourself to others 

Everyone in your class will have the exact schedule as you, so you will all be experiencing similar stresses with exams and practicals at the same time. Don’t get obsessive over a grade or your GPA — at the end of the day, once you graduate you will ALL be doctors. Don’t be ashamed to reach out for help because the number of resources is endless (professors, mentors, tutors, peers). 

4. Buy a cute water bottle and take many breaks 

You can only get so far as your body and mind will take you. Don’t push yourself to put 110% of effort into your studies constantly without sprinkling in other activities to keep a balanced lifestyle. I found that having several water bottles and cute reusable straws really help remind me to stay hydrated. I am more of a night owl, so I like to sleep in but stay up late to finish up my tasks. Do what works for you and try to create a balanced routine. Find ways to refresh your mind, like taking a nap, watching a quick show, or even checking out a few TikToks. Make sure you’re eating properly, getting enough sleep, sticking to an exercise routine, and socializing with friends and family through video calls. Breaks will be your best friend to avoid burning out. You may think it is impossible to put all those aspects in, but just know, you do have time and you are doing just fine.  

5. Have a “to-do” list and try to complete it by the end of the week 

It is completely okay to fall behind with lectures for the week as you always have the weekend to catch up. If you find yourself falling more and more behind, make a study group with a  designated study spot. You may find that just being around productive people would be helpful.  Change up your study locations, have a tidy space, use new writing utensils — sometimes your mind just needs a change of pace to find the motivation to be productive again.  

6. You are not alone 

Even if you start off your experience virtually, you will find your pod. Don’t be hard on yourself if you are unable to find a group of friends from the get-go; everyone is very busy getting acclimated to the new environment. Just be yourself and have an open mind with everyone you meet. Reach out to anyone in every section for lab if you need a partner, as it is a great way to meet a wide range of people in your class. If anything, attend new clubs, join the mentorship program, or form other study groups—there are infinite amounts of chances to put yourself out there.  

It is important to note that these helped me personally, but everyone is different! Do not be afraid to reach out to upperclassmen, your professors, or even your fellow classmates. We are all in it together and everyone is there to help and support you. Always remember to take a  deep breath and get it done!

- Michelle is a first-year optometry student at Salus University

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Friday, April 16, 2021

Why I’m All for Taking a Gap Year Before Graduate School

The decision to take a gap year (or years) can be a very difficult decision to make. Upon receiving your bachelor’s degree, you have to make a very quick decision on whether to find a full-time job or continue onward to graduate school. Of course, there are other paths to take upon graduation, but with the mindset of continuing education like I was, here are my two cents on this situation.

After facing so many different viewpoints on why it is a good or bad idea to take a break, I’ve never once regretted my decision in taking a year off.

A lot of people tried to talk me out of taking a gap year 
– they would say things like:

  • “If you take a break now, you won’t be able to get used to being back in school again.”
  • “If you stop school now, you won’t want to go back.”
  • “If you don’t apply now, you are missing your chance.”
  • “If you don’t try now, it is not certain it will work out later.”

While it is easy to fall into the trap of agreeing with everything everyone else has to say, it is important to recognize that only you have the ability to do what you want with your life. Your life is precious, and making the decision that shapes your future should not be taken lightly. So instead of looking at the what if’s – start asking why not? 

You have been in school for the past 12 years, complying with the rules and regulations of the educational system – you never truly experienced the world to help guide you on what makes your life purposeful. Sure, you may have had part-time jobs, volunteered with different organizations, or held leadership positions with school clubs, but you were never able to give it 100% of your focus since you had to balance it with school.

Instead of enjoying the last few moments of college and your early twenties, and before being propelled into ‘adulthood’, you had to devote your latter years in undergrad to trying to find ways to impress your future graduate school. The effort in trying to be the most well-rounded student you can be should not cause you more distress than joy. Mental and physical health should be at the forefront when it comes to determining what you want to do for your future.

My biggest reason to take a gap year was that I wanted to finally take control of my own life. I wanted to take time to recognize that my hopes and dreams were truly my own and not what society had tried to force onto me. I wanted to make sure that I would enjoy the field that I plan to be in until I decide to retire and that I looked into all the possible paths as opposed to having tunnel vision. I wanted to make sure that my end goals would allow me to have genuine happiness and that the biggest reason for even doing it, is for me

If you want to take a year off, why not? Just make it purposeful

I loved every moment of my gap year. And here are some things that I was able to do in just a year:

  • I took on my first full-time job.
  • I established connections within the field of my dreams.
  • I shadowed professionals with more intention.
  • I experienced what it’s like to pay off student loans.
  • I spent time with my brothers and grew closer to them after being away for the past 4 years.
  • I reunited with my blind dog, Chubby, who is actually a major reason why I want to become an optometrist one day.
  • I attended family events/parties.
  • I discovered new hobbies.
  • I traveled.
  • I learned more about myself.
  • I found my purpose in life.
  • I was able to breathe.

All the sacrifices I made while being in school were no longer sacrifices I had to make. I became more comfortable with my independence and my future goals became very clear. I came out of my gap year with the mindset of going to graduate school and to thrive, not just survive – with the excitement of finally getting into my future career with no regrets that I made the wrong decision.

At least when it’s all said and done, I can look back and appreciate that taking one year off from school (especially in my early twenties) is the best decision I could make for myself. The amount of personal growth I achieved is something that I am very proud of.

- Michelle is a first-year optometry student at Salus University

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Friday, February 5, 2021

Learning How to Juggle in Graduate School

Hello, I am a second-year Optometry student at Salus University and I am going to show you how I juggle multiple workloads, extracurriculars, and hobbies while in graduate school, and hopefully inspire you to take your first step towards juggling too. I apologize if you were expecting an actual juggling how-to.

Starting with One

As a first-year, I focused just on tossing the ball labeled “academics.” Taking the time to understand how to toss this ball and catch it every time was vital. Entering graduate school and handling the difference in workload and pace was already difficult, so really spending the first semester focusing on and understanding what I personally needed to do to maintain my academic goals was very important. I adopted many new and refurbished old study habits that helped me get a good grasp on academics. I consistently relied on my weekly planner and Google Calendar to stay organized in classes and used a mixture of digital and handwritten notes depending on the course and content. I also realized that sitting down and creating Quizlets is very time-consuming, and many times if you just search the topic matter (i.e. Anatomy of the Cornea) in Quizlet, you will most likely find a Quizlet already created by another student. Of course, what worked for me will not work for everyone which is why I believe it is crucial to spend at least one semester focusing and understanding what you need to do to achieve your academic goals. If you do not master tossing and throwing one ball, it becomes very difficult juggling two, three, or more. Not to mention, many times we enter graduate school already juggling personal life, health, hobbies, social life, etc. so really knowing how academics will fit into your juggling act is key!

Now Add One More

In my second semester of first year I decided to sign up for a leadership position. I knew that being a student leader would help me with public speaking, time management, communication and learning to be resourceful. So, when the opportunity arose in December, I ran for the Assistant Treasurer position on the Salus University Student Council. This was my second “ball” that I added while already juggling the “academic ball.” Luckily, being in a leadership position is - in my humble opinion - easier to handle than academics because there are many people you can rely on or ask for help when you get lost or fall behind. I was very lucky to be working alongside an amazing team and with Ms. Monae Kelsey’s guidance, which easily allowed me to learn how to juggle two balls simultaneously. So, if you are at this point where you have gained a handle on academics and are struggling with the idea of whether or not to sign up for leadership, I say trust yourself and your abilities and go for it! It can seem intimidating, but you will not be alone in your position and there is help at every corner if you need it.

Now Add Another

I wanted to “add another ball” during the summer, but due to the pandemic many of us were forced to relearn how to juggle ball number one (academics) since we were now learning and testing virtually from the comfort of our home. So, I took the time over the summer to adjust to the new setting and waited until the fall semester of second year to sign up for yet another thing - this time it was a work position as an Ophthalmology Technician. There were many things to consider with this position: the commute, managing it with my academic schedule, and student council responsibilities. But, over time, this also became easy to juggle because I had already learned how to juggle two other things so this one came even easier than the last.

Continue Adding, While Being Realistic

I am now at the point where I have juggled three large and time-consuming activities alongside juggling life, staying social (virtually), exercising, cooking at home, reading, etc. Since I am in my second year spring semester, I am completing my optical clerkship and starting to prepare myself for clinic. Now the question is, should I keep adding more responsibilities to juggle or should I swap certain activities out for other beneficial experiences? It is important to remember that there are certain things you should not swap out for the sake of your health and well-being. Your sleep, healthy eating and exercise are crucial to how well you are able to manage multiple roles in graduate school. If your body is not healthy and you are tired and burnt out all the time, chances are you are not going to juggle multiple things, let alone just one. 

I hope this how-to and personal examples help illustrate how you can do more than just study while you are at Salus University, and maybe inspire you to take on juggling as well. Remember, you just have to start with one thing, and when you are comfortable you should trust yourself and add other things that will support your education and goals. If it becomes overwhelming, you can always go back to just juggling one - but you will not know what you are capable of unless you give it a try. Good luck with the upcoming semesters and stay safe!

- Jemi is a second-year optometry student at Salus University

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