Reflecting on the OT exam prep course in Costa Rica – how it began
I have been writing this blog for a while now. The blog was a challenge to myself to work on my writing skills and provide OTs with a place to go for knowledge. I teach in an MOT program and my students force me to keep current on what OTs are (and should be) doing in practice; in addition, it keeps me up-to-date on national and international issues in OT.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the NBCOT® exam item-writer’s workshop which lead to work on the editorial board for the AOTA exam prep product. In my teaching, I have used those skills to develop rigorous questions for my quizzes and exams – to help students think through their answers (“what is the BEST option?”).
I was able to adjust my teaching credits, which allowed me flexibility to spend time with family in Costa Rica in the winter. My daughter is young and we want her to have a connection with Costa Rica. I was lucky to have supportive colleagues who understood my concerns.
Costa Rica is a beautiful country – great beaches, tons of wildlife, and sun. They say “pura vida” in Costa Rica which means “pure life” or “simple life”. It is a great life…. but for a busy clinician and academic… after you have done the volcano tours, visited the hot springs, traveled the countryside on ATV or mountain bike, and overall encountered the “Tico” lifestyle, you get a little restless (or, at least I did!).
I needed something to “occupy” my time and use my OT skills while I am so far away from my OT roots. So, I figured that I would use my OT experience and knowledge while I am in Costa Rica. So I host OT students to take part in a week of relaxation, fun, and (most importantly!) to study for the NBCOT® board exam.
I plan the entire trip (except airfare from the US) to keep it as stress-free as possible. I talk with all the students on the phone after their level IIs but before they leave the US to get a feel for their study strengths and needs.
How does it look? Studying in Costa Rica?!
We are all occupational beings and need some occupational balance in our lives (even if it doesn’t feel that way when you are a full-time OT student!). Locking myself up at home (or a coffee shop) to study for weeks on end never appealed to me as a student, so I thought there must be some like-minded students out there…students who need a break from the rigors of the OT curriculum, but still need to remain focused on the end goal (the OTR!). The change of scenery and the ability to feel balanced is one of my goals for each and every student who travel with me. You can do both – have some fun, relaxation, and adventure and get productive in your studying. The change in pace and connection to nature helps the students stay focused.
On these trips, we spent six days studying (2 hours in the morning – before it got hot and before we head out for the day’s adventure). We cover the NBCOT® exam blueprint and cover all the ACOTE standards – all the knowledge that is expected of an entry-level OT (and what will be tested on the board exam)! I give worksheets, practice questions, and help students think through clinical scenarios.
In the afternoons, we go adventuring – to national parks, ATV, boat, and mountain bike tours, visit a Costa Rican farm, zipline in the rain forest, go to the beach and waterfalls, and taste traditional Costa Rican food! If you are interested in our itinerary: click here.
The students have a load of fun and adventure! And, most importantly, had great success on their exams: read a few reviews on our facebook page here. I am so happy to have gotten to know a few more OTs along my OT journey and share Costa Rica from an insider’s perspective. I am looking forward to future trips and keeping this as one of the ways that I can give back to the OT profession!
Interested? Feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my website here!