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OTSH 70: Insights from a SBOT Trained Outside of America Feat. Ushma Sampat, MS, OTR/L, CAS

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Welcome to the show notes for the Episode 70 of the OT School House Podcast.

Whether you trained in the USA, Greece, India, or anywhere else in the world to be an OT, this episode with Ushma Sampat is sure to teach you several valuable lessons on understanding cultural differences, systematic biases, and how to be a better school-based OT! Ushma is a now a private practice owner in the Bay Area of California where she see clients in their natural setting, including kids in school. But to get to this point, she had to learn so much. This is not an episode to skip!

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Episode Transcript

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Episode 70 Transcript
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Amazing Narrator 00:01

Hello and welcome to the OT schoolhouse podcast, your source for school based occupational therapy tips, interviews and professional development. Now to get the conversation started, here is your host, Jayson Davies. Class is officially in session.

Jayson Davies 00:18

Hey there, welcome to the OT school health podcast. My name is Jayson Davies and I am a school based occupational therapist in Southern California. I am so excited to be here with you today. I am actually really excited today for two reasons. First and foremost, you are about to hear a wonderful conversation between myself and Ushma Sampat, who is a private practice owner up in the Bay Area of California. However, she was a school based occupational therapist for five years, and she has so much to share with us today. This is honestly been one of the best conversations I've had in a long time, so you will not want to miss this. The second reason that I am excited is much shorter. And that is just because summer is coming and I love summer. I completely feel like Olaf right now the snowman. So anyways, we're gonna keep this intro pretty short. We're gonna dive right into it. Please, please listen all the way through. This is an amazing episode. Put your phone in your pocket. You don't need it. Just press play. Let it go. Here is Ushma Sampat. Good morning, Ushma! Welcome to the OT schoolhouse podcast. How are you doing today?

Ushma Sampat 01:27

I'm well, thank you for having me here. I'm excited.

Jayson Davies 01:30

Thank you. Yeah, I'm excited to have you here as well. I mean, we both have a course for school based occupational therapists. So I'm excited for for everyone, all the school based OTS out there to get to know you a little bit further. So that's gonna be fun.

Ushma Sampat 01:44

Thank you.

Jayson Davies 01:45

Well, we have several topics that we would like to get into today. But first, I want to start off by asking you about your current practice, you own a private practice up in the Bay Area in California, right?

Ushma Sampat 01:56

Yeah, World of OT serves children and the whole world. So we serve families, schools and other professionals. And we do so through direct services, concepts, and an online course, as you mentioned, for fellow OTS who are new to the school system.

Jayson Davies 02:12

And so how do you work in the schools through the world of OT?

Ushma Sampat 02:16

So I work with kids in in variety of ways. So firstly, because I provide services in the child's natural environment, I'm seeing some of my private kiddos in the school. I also provide console services to early headstart and Head Start preschool programs. But that's another way I'm connected with the education system.

Jayson Davies 02:38

I thought I actually thought that you contracted with the school directly, but you're actually seeing private kids in the school. Is that did I hear that? Right?

Ushma Sampat 02:47

Yeah, that's one. And then the other is also contracted by a private school, in the school system.

Jayson Davies 02:54

Gotcha. I actually want to dive into that, then a little bit is how that works. When you have a client that is a private client, but you're asked to go into the school or work with them in the school. What does that look like?

Ushma Sampat 03:06

Yeah, so it's, so when I have private kiddos that attend private schools, I work with them, just like I would with any child that I was seeing in the public system. I would, they don't have an IEP for me to go off. But I'm there because the parents primarily have concerns related to school functioning. And so what I'm doing is doing a combination of push in call out collaboration with the teachers, and kind of the whole round of things that the child might need in the school.

Jayson Davies 03:43

So So how does that work? As far as the school side of it? Does the school welcome you in with open arms? Or is this a private school or public school? How does that work?

Ushma Sampat 03:53

Yeah, so it's because it's a private school, it's worth kind of the teachers are glad to have me as a resource, and they're happy, you know, there's one additional brain to support them. But in private school, it does look, I mean, in public schools, it will look different. So they don't allow you to be a private practitioner come in to a public school and provide services. So with some of the families that I work with, when they are attending public schools, what I would do is collaborate with the team collaborate with the teachers as an external OT, but not really providing services for the child in there. Gotcha. So

Jayson Davies 04:32

now, I want to I want to continue on this because this is very interesting to me. When you go into the private school, you're going on campus, are you going into the into the kids actual classroom? Are they pulling out the kid for you to work with them in another room? Or what does that look like?

Ushma Sampat 04:48

It's both so you know, there are times when my sessions are actually pushing in. So obviously things are very different. Oh yeah, recording in the COVID world. And for right now, I'm not see any of my private kiddos in their schools. But I still do provide services to a private school where I go in person, because I'm the only OT providing services for all the kiddos at that private school that's contracted me, going back to what the services would look like for my private kiddo in the school, typically, I will push in, I'll see what the teacher is doing, you know, and get a better idea. It's more like an observation and some amount of time to observe, see work samples, touch base with the teacher, probably pull the child out, depending on what I have planned and what my goal is for the session, I might push in or pull out the child in a separate space, it might be in the playground, it might be in a separate room, it might be in the library, it might be anywhere in the school, where I could really, you know, work very much like how we do it in public schools. And then the reason I've liked the approach, even if I had to pull the child out of their classroom, but provide services in the school is because I get so many more touch points with the teachers and able to collaborate with the team where if I was only providing services in the child's home, or their natural environment, which was somewhere else, but the pain points were really coming from the school, I would be missing a whole world out there.

Jayson Davies 06:18

Yeah, absolutely. For these kids, do you typically also see them at home? Or is it kind of a one or the other?

Ushma Sampat 06:25

It's a combination, it is, you know, I will go so wonderful teachers provide services, wherever the child needs that I will go, you know, it could be a piano class, it could be a gymnastic class, it could be in the home, it could be in the school, it's in a local park, it will really be anywhere that I could support the team. I could support the parents and I could support the child.

Jayson Davies 06:50

I really love that, like, so often I drive past like a karate studio, or like you're talking to a gymnasium or something. I just like think to myself, What if I could go to the owner of that gym and be like, Hey, I'm an occupational therapist, how can I support you? So I love that you're doing that?

Ushma Sampat 07:08

Yeah, I've literally I have a music studio next door. And I've actually walked in and I said, Hey, I'm an OT. And they're like, what is that? So first, when is that I was able to educate somebody about what an OT is, and how I could be a resource, whether it was me or somebody else. But then even understanding they actually had a child that had a missing finger, and was trying to play multiple missing fingers and was learning to play the piano or something. And they said, this is perfect. We need you. And so it was just me going out there being like, How can I be of support to the community. And there was actually a need and was was just amazing.

Jayson Davies 07:46

That is awesome. So I'm going to put you on the spot here just a little bit, not too much. But where is the most interesting place you have gone to treat a child or or anyone?

Ushma Sampat 07:58

I want to say the gymnastics class. gymnastics. Yeah, because it was so fun to just see them out of motor planning. Obviously, the gymnastics coach, like they know everything about gymnastics, but they haven't really figured out the child's difference of learning. And they've not figured that the child's not doing it. Because of the motor learning challenges, or coordination challenges. You're expecting something but the child hasn't, doesn't have the capability of mastering at this moment. And we need to take a step back. Just being able to make them see from that different lens was just so powerful and rewarding for them. And for me,

Jayson Davies 08:36

that is awesome that the last like five minutes of this podcast, we had no idea we were going to talk about that today. But I love it. Thank you so much for sharing that.

Ushma Sampat 08:44


Jayson Davies 08:45

So let's go ahead and actually move on our first topic kind of comes out of what you and I were talking about as we were kind of planning. And you shared with me some of the inherent difficulties that you had to overcome as a therapist trained outside of the United States. And that's where I want to go. Now, let's start with a little bit about your training as an OT outside of the states, though, so then we can transition back in here. Where did that take place? Where were you trained as an occupational therapist initially?

Ushma Sampat 09:13

Yeah. So I was born and I grew up in Bombay, India, and I complete my bachelor's in occupational therapy at Manipal University, which is Karnataka, a different state in India. It was a four and a half year program. And the fun part about my education was that our institute was also a hospital and had clinics attached to it all within the same campus. So universities, like for OT are not very common in India, it's typically universities look like buildings, and that's your university. But I was fortunate enough to actually go to a university that had medical programs, allied health programs, engineering, architecture, but literally everything it was actually an institute it was actually in the university. So coming back to You know, having a hospital and clinic attached to, you know, on the same campus was, was amazing because from the very first day of OT school, we were hands on in the field initially observing helping our seniors and treatments slowly providing services under supervision defined having Junior under us that we were training along the way. So I mean, it was, it was very different from what it would have been here. But I'm very thankful that I did get so much hands on experience as part of my curriculum.

Jayson Davies 10:31

Yeah, because here, you get a lot of the theory, you know, two years of theory, and then you go out and do some of your field work and get that hands on experience. But it sounds like you from day one, you were in there

Ushma Sampat 10:42

we were, we were in it. Initially, it was like cleaning up. And then it was giving stuff to the senior that we're providing, but you're always looking, you're thinking you're being you know, your seniors or the teachers who are providing therapy are actually asking you questions along the way to actually apply what you've been learning. So you are doing the practicals and the theory in parallel all the time.

Jayson Davies 11:09

Wow, I'm sure that was difficult, but also very beneficial

Ushma Sampat 11:13

to say beneficial.

Jayson Davies 11:16

And so then was your first job as an occupational therapist in India? Or did you move here prior to that?

Ushma Sampat 11:24

No, I moved here. So it was a double, wide. And I think I, I am fortunate that I didn't work a lot in India. So besides, you know, my four years of curriculum where I did have practical’s, along with six months of internship, other than that, I didn't have a real job. And the reason I say it was a blessing in disguise is because I had so much unlearning to do and real learning to do interesting in preparation for not only my NBC OT, but being an OT practitioner in the in the country, in the States, it is very different.

Jayson Davies 12:06

Yeah. And we're gonna dive into that transition in just a minute. But I want to take a step back while we're on the topic of, of your home country, and that is to ask you a little bit about education in India. How is the education system there? Mostly public education? I know you work in private education right now. But how is public education different there from it is here?

Ushma Sampat 12:26

Great question. It is very, very different. And it's interesting that you say public, because the government schools in India are not called public schools. They're usually for the financially weaker section of the society or for those who can't afford private school. But since many people publicly opt for private schools, those private schools are actually called public schools. And the public schools, as we refer to in the states are called government schools. Back in India.

Jayson Davies 12:55

Okay. Interesting.

Ushma Sampat 12:57

So we have different boards. So federally, like countrywide, we have three boards. So we have, you know, the cbse, board, the icse board, and then the ni o F, which is the National Institute of open schooling. For children, I mean, students that learn differently, which, you know, hasn't might have been there for a long time. I'm not quite sure, but didn't have a lot of awareness, or, you know, not many schools actually had that program. And I remember when I was in 10th, grade, my school had introduced that board as part of our school as well.

Jayson Davies 13:29

Gotcha. And so if you're just driving, walking, riding a bike around India, do you see more of the government schools or the quote unquote, public schools?

Ushma Sampat 13:38

public? Wow. So private? Yeah. There are fewer public schools like me, my friends, most people I know, have gone to private schools. That is the norm. And I'm talking from obviously, being in a big city, I grew up in Bombay. So I was in a bigger city in rural areas, they probably only have the option of the government schools. But I want to say that a lot more people would have attended private schools. Wow.

Jayson Davies 14:09

That's very interesting. All right. Very different from here in the states for you, like have to look up where private school might be, as opposed to just seeing them everywhere.

Ushma Sampat 14:18

Oh, yeah. Because I mean, you know, obviously, we have a disparity in India like economic disparity, the population is too large to even accommodate for in terms of education. So everything gets filled up, no matter what you are, you're a public school, a government school, whatever school you are, you're going to get filled up because there's just so much but yeah, like I would have, I don't my family would have never considered or it's not even considered, it's like you, you are not entitled to a government school because you're making enough to go seek education yourself. Well,

Jayson Davies 14:53

okay. Well, then let's go another layer deep. What about special education, I know in some parts of the world are some parts of the world special education just doesn't exist? Some places it's up and coming here in America. I mean, it's been pretty stable for a few decades now. But what about in India?

Ushma Sampat 15:12

So special needs, you know, education is only in the last century been seen as a necessity. And obviously with good reason. to dive into the stats a little bit, I pulled up some stats from an article by first crayon. In India, they're 27 million people with special needs in a population of 1.2 billion. This means that 2.2% of our population has special needs. According to the census, only 61% of children with special needs age five to 19, attend Education Institute of any sort. And those are only those we know of many cases are not reported due to misconceptions, society fears and lack of diagnosis. Well, so majority of the children with special needs don't really receive any formal education in spite of the practice of inclusive education in some schools. This is the case that children with disabilities and learning differences are segregated from the mainstream schools and other regular routines, and social activities of normal children.

Jayson Davies 16:18

So is there any government laws that state schools must provide special education like there is here,

Ushma Sampat 16:27

so I wasn't even aware about it. But apparently, there is a government of India has put in place an act Persons with Disabilities Act of 1995, which provides cooling and services to all children. But for most children, or some children with disabilities, these are provided in special schools.

Jayson Davies 16:49

So 1995, for anyone out there who doesn't quite recall, it was in the 70s, the special education started to kind of pick up here in the States. So a 20 year difference between things getting started, but that's great, at least there is something I know a lot of a lot of countries don't have anything yet. So that's great.

Ushma Sampat 17:09

It's definitely a movement, I was chatting with a couple of odd who have been practicing in the schools in India. And I came to realize that not much has changed in the last 10 years from when I left systems and processes for students to receive od services are actually not present. Though there's been some movement in trying to educate and spread awareness about od arose in the School of very individual to what the aim of that school might be, in regards to hiring you. Sometimes OTs are brought on as consultants. Other times OTs are brought on to provide group services to everyone who attends that special day program at that school. Other times, bodies are given free rein to set up their own processes and systems and do as they will, I have actually supported someone in India that was going to start working in a school and had no clue what to do. And I actually consulted with her provided her some of the, you know, some of the things that we follow over your, you know, from referral to qualifying for services or not. And beyond setting up systems, obviously, with modification that would work in India, it was such a rewarding experience to even think about it. Like, it reminded me of all the things that I could have taken for granted. The laws and systems specific to the school system to the school system in the US may seem very hard to navigate, you know, as a school based ot. But it is these very processes and systems that provide us a framework for school based work, like clarity on our role, our responsibility, how do we proceed? What do we do? Isn't it so much better, Jayson, to just have the systems to help you navigate instead of running around like a headless chicken, even if it is hard in the beginning and requires you to invest in yourself and get the support early on to hit the ground running?

Jayson Davies 19:06

Absolutely. I mean, and that's not just within schools, that's also just as professionals being licensed being registered or certificated in the United States, like, yeah, it's a pain in the butt that we have to take the nbcot T and get that initial registration and then go to your state and get a license. But that's also some a job security and be it's good for the people that we serve. It ensures that we know what we're doing. And the same thing in the schools. Yes, it's a pain in the butt that you have to go through a referral process and you have 60 days to get an assessment done. But that also supports the people that we serve. So yeah, definitely.

Ushma Sampat 19:43

Absolutely. Yeah.

Jayson Davies 19:45

All right. Well, you actually kind of started to go in this direction. I want to encourage you to go a little bit more is talking about the difference between occupational therapy here versus occupational therapy in India. Is it very similar or and not just school based, but In general, is occupational therapy similar different? or How is it? What direction? Is it going?

Ushma Sampat 20:06

Oh, great question. She said, you're so good at both occupations. And the idea and importance given to independence are very different in India when compared to the States, the influence of culture is tremendous. And you know, it's often unfortunately overlooked. In India, we have a huge economic disparity. On one hand, we have people who afford to hire health for everything. And on the other spectrum, we have those who don't have even had the financial means for the basic necessities like home, food, medical expense, leave alone therapy for quality of life. Of course, there are exceptions and people that we see the people who see the need for independence. But the attitude in the first group, which is those that can afford therapy, is largely that I don't want to trouble my loved one. And if I can afford it, I will give my family my parent, the best care by hiring someone who can help them so that they don't have to go through the pain of doing things themselves. Obviously, the attitude also changes based on the age of the loved one, right? So there's definitely been more awareness and services being accessed for pediatrics as compared to adults. And one of the most obvious reason, as I was thinking about this set comes out is India's a very populated country, and there's only room for so much. So many schools, so many colleges, so many university admissions, and so many jobs, you have to do well, and you have to ace to move on to the next thing, there's constant pressure to do better. Otherwise, someone else is going to take your place. So parents are innately wanting their kids to be the best. And if that means going to therapy, Soviet.

Jayson Davies 22:03

Wow. And with occupational therapy, I think you were kind of telling me that, like, no one, correct me if I'm wrong, but very few people know what occupational therapy is there. I mean, very few people know what it is here, either. But, I mean, do you see OT clinics even around in India? or What does it look like there on the ground?

Ushma Sampat 22:21

Yeah, yeah. clinics have definitely started popping up. There are a lot of otas that have actually done education Master's abroad and gone back to India to start clinics and things. So I, there are private practitioners. But obviously, what we do, and the value we provide the role we play in families, or lives of children depend on what the families I mean, even though we hear we do that, but over there is more like a private od might also just be a school od because the parents are thinking so much about the need to be educationally moving forward, like play might not be as important to a parent, ADL, maybe a maid might be able to help with or I can help with as a parent, right? Like all those things might not be there yet. So the role of 40 just automatically might have become more educationally driven, or medically based, not educationally driven.

Jayson Davies 23:24

Gotcha. All right. Great. Well, I want to kind of now transition to our next section or part of the podcast where we're talking about the transition. When did you and your family decide to to move them over to your San Francisco? Right?

Ushma Sampat 23:38

Yeah, Bay Area. So I was initially in Mountain View, and then we've been in San Francisco. So it's all been behavior. My husband was already living in the US. So he had come to the states to do his undergrad. And then he did his master's. And he had just about got his first job when we got married. And I moved from India to the Bay area to be with him after we got married.

Jayson Davies 23:59

Gotcha. And so what was that move? Like? Were there any amazing experiences or potentially terrible experiences that really stick out in your mind?

Ushma Sampat 24:08

I think I am not gonna say amazing or terrible because I am who I am today because of all the experiences that I have lived in the past. But I will say, just to think about and to give you a background of what this move might have been like, in my head. I graduated from OT school, and I got married in the beginning of March, and I moved to the stage end of March, all of the same here. Wow. So it was definitely a lot to process in a very short time. And I'm not I'm not even sure if I processed all of it then. I was 23 years old, leaving behind every human I knew on the planet. My friends and family. start a new life with my spouse in a new country. I did have some extended families mistake but these are people I probably never met before. So They were related like somebody, somebody, somebody, but I didn't know them. So it was basically like starting life from scratch. My husband, sorry,

Jayson Davies 25:11

I was just gonna say I just got the idea. I don't know if you've ever done a DNA test, but I can just imagine like going through your 23andme test and just like finding a random third cousin on there, just saying, hey, hey, I'm gonna come and live by you What's going on?

Ushma Sampat 25:27

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, it was just a lot to process and to think of it was a big move. I, you know, it was a life changing event. I was. And obviously, my husband. I mean, the only person I knew then was my husband, and he wasn't available to sit and hang out with me. It was not like we were on a long extended honeymoon, he had to provide for the family. He had to work long hours. It was lonely, for sure. Professionally, also, you know, to think that that was personally and professionally, it was challenging, because my husband and all his friends were in the area. So no guesses there. But most people are engineers, can you imagine not knowing a single other OT in the entire country you live in? Oh, my last but not the least, in addition to all of these mixes, we have been challenges. I volunteered as an od for three years before being able to get a job as an OT. What, because I was on a dependent visa. Luckily, Visa last changed after those three years. So we have to go through a lottery system to even get a visa and the Euro went through the lottery system, laws changed. And as a dependent of a skilled worker, which was my husband, I was now allowed to get an ad, which was Employment Authorization Document that enabled me to start my private practice, a benefit that my husband still doesn't have to their state because he is an h1 b visa holder. So he can only have one job and work for somebody 40 hours a week, not even part time no matter what situation you're in. And if you lose your job, I believe you have about 60 days or 90 days to find another job or leave the country while you've been here for 15 years. And he's still in that.

Jayson Davies 27:16

So for anyone listening out there real quick, you can't see my face. Ooh, schmo can see my face. And I'm just like, in disbelief here real quick. I want to stop you real quick, because there's a lot to unpack there. You had to work as a volunteer for three years before you could before basically and it wasn't even because it was just three years because laws change. But you had to volunteer. Were you volunteering as an OT?

Ushma Sampat 27:39

Yeah, because I couldn't earn. So my visa situation did not allow me to earn money. And so I was, you know, I had skills. I had professional goals. Thankfully, I was in a situation that I did not need to be a provider for my family. And I could actually invest money buy in regards to money because I was traveling to the job investing all the time there. And driving back doing continuing education, learning and growing because I was at least hitting my professional goals. But I could not earn.

Jayson Davies 28:18

Wow. So what kind of OT job were you doing at that point? Or so I

Ushma Sampat 28:22

was at? I was at a private school. I mean, obviously, you know, how many people will really hire you, you You are an OT, but you are not allowed to work? Right? Like how are you going to explain that I'm a qualified OT allowed to be an OT, but not allowed to earn, and then actually have somebody hire you. So I was working at a private school and I was working with a couple of private families, no payment, just supporting them.

Jayson Davies 28:49

Wow, that's so interesting. And then so now this kind of goes into the next area of the transition. What about NBC OT I mean, most of us, most school based OTS, most OTS listening to this podcast. Shout out to everyone who's outside of the United States. I know there's several of you. But if you're in the United States, you went through the process here you got your bachelor's, you got your masters, maybe you did your OTD you took the NBCOT t you got registered, you got licensed and you're ready to practice. What was that like for you?

Ushma Sampat 29:22

We have an added layer, even over there. So we and by we I mean internationally educated otif can sit the boards to be able to sit the boards have to have an additional process completed, which is called the OT Ed process. It is basically a determination at the education that you have completed. internationally. The fee including fieldwork meets the eligibility requirements to apply for the OTDR certification exam, even if we attended a world WFOT recognized approved program. So this you know process required us to complete a lot Documentation has stuff prepared, sent out via University, one of the forms that was the most time taking was a bundle of 50 forms. Thank god they now do it online. It was physical forms that I had to fill back in but back in the day, asking us to give us details and proof on each coursework and standards and how they were met. So it was really detailed. These questions were so detailed, and one of the first questions I remember so clearly, was asking me how I learned English in whatever form that was a question about how I, my proficiency in English and how I've learned it or whatever. And to prove it? Well, given that my schooling was in English, it was hard for me to digest. And given that all of us were required to take and pass the TOEFL exam, which is a test of English as a foreign language proficiency exam, any which wave as a prerequisite for the odd process. I just felt like this was, Why are you asking me this now? Like, have I not proved to you by taking a test? that English is a language I speak where I know?

Jayson Davies 31:14

You got to do both? You couldn't just say yes, I know English. And here's my background. Or let me take the test. You had to say, here's how I learned English. Oh, and now I'm going to take a test on it to prove that I know English.

Ushma Sampat 31:27

Yes. So can you imagine for me having had to go through everything think how do I prove I know English? My education from pre k was English, like, what do I give you a certificate? Where do I even go? Here's my somebody is to prove that I have been educated. I mean, English right?

Jayson Davies 31:46

In my head, I like if I read that question, if I was in a similar spot, I can only imagine me just saying, Hey, Mom, go get that preschool work sample that I did when I was four years old. It's all in English. And let's send that to them.

Ushma Sampat 31:59

Yeah, I mean, I understand some countries do have, you know, time we education isn't a different language, but you're making them to toe fall. Why then? Are you asking them a question like that that can be perceived I completely get where they're coming from, but it could be perceived as a bias, right? Like, why are you adding that layer that we already have enough to unpack we already have enough to do? And I mean, if anything, I hope, you know, this serves as a reminder, for anybody listening and needs to hear this today, too, that our only limitations are the ones we set in our own minds. The process has never been easy for me, but I kept going. This made me resilient and taught me perseverance. And there was no stopping.

Jayson Davies 32:46

Yeah, wow. And to be straight up honest, the OT world is lucky to have you in the OT room. So I'm glad you continued on and made it all the way through.

Ushma Sampat 32:58

Thank you. I'm glad.

Jayson Davies 33:01

So we're going to actually continue on a little bit more, because that is just part of the story, I think. So you moved here or you were going through that process, you had to kind of prove that you had training in OT, you had to prove that you spoke English and multiple ways. Was there additional training that you needed specifically for Occupational Therapy.

Ushma Sampat 33:25

So I was lucky enough to be around one of the last batches, I think in 2012, they moved from if I was because I had completed my OT Ed process before 2012, I was allowed to sit the exam without a Master's, for anybody listening and who is not aware, one needs to now have a Master's to be eligible to sit the exam. But I was anyways enrolled in a post professional master's program at San Jose State University. Because that that was part of my plan. I wanted to pursue my Masters all along. So that didn't change anything for me.

Jayson Davies 34:00

Okay, so But now, if someone were in a similar situation, they would have to do that Post Pro masters.

Ushma Sampat 34:07

So they would have to do yeah, they would have to do a post professional masters or a doctorate because it's the entry level masters now. So anybody who wants to sit the exam, whether you be you know, you're trained in the United States or internationally, you have to have a entry level masters or opposed professional masters is the minimum requirement. Gotcha. And

Jayson Davies 34:27

cannon masters from say, India or from another country, that would still suffice?

Ushma Sampat 34:32

That would suffice, you would still go through the OTD process. And I would think that you would have more questions to answer and more things to prove, but it would suffice. I mean, even for me, I was at you know, odd like the process was I submit everything and they get back to me and ask me questions like this isn't clear. How did you really master this? Or these standards seem like they've not really been met through your education at the level at which we require them to be have met. So I did do certain courses I, you know, I did certain courses on occupational therapy comm like IP profits and stuff, they have questions about education. And we don't have that in India. So not, you know, my OT education did not teach me about this process, even physical or junk modalities. I remember we needed 710 I forget how many hours but I and I knew that because I started this whole process when I got engaged to my husband a year before I even moved to the country. So I started the process, I started doing all the continuing education in addition that I knew I was going to have to be, you know, that we're going to come up. And I started working on all of that the whole process of getting my odd approval took me two years. Wow. And then prepared for my NBC audience at the NBC Lt.

Jayson Davies 35:46

Wow. And so what was the NBCOT experience for you like the end? Did you do that before you got your post pro? Or after you got your post pro masters?

Ushma Sampat 35:55

pedrillo? Okay. Yeah, so I, I was I was enrolled in my professional masters doing my course and preparing for the NBCOT and appeared the NBCOT at the same time, okay,

Jayson Davies 36:07

so that that Master's kind of helped you prepare for the NBC OT, as well as a master who's Pro's pro masters can,

Ushma Sampat 36:17

maybe, but I think it's actually very different, because NBC OT has so much focus on what you would do in a particular situation more clinical, whereas my master's was more management teaching. And, you know, that focus was not as clinical. So I think NBC it was all about just reading up, you know, the typical therapy and the, you know, taking courses, you know, all of that, like just there is there wasn't a community, when I was going through aid for people who, you know, are internationally educated, going through this entire process. And obviously, me being me, I saw a gap. And I'm like, I don't have the support. I'm done with it, I will make sure I get the support and do forward for anybody who's not going through it. So I do have a Facebook group. It's a small, but mighty self sufficient community of internationally educated OTS who are trying to get through the odd process and give the boats

Jayson Davies 37:15

and what's the name of that one for anyone looking?

Ushma Sampat 37:17

It's called OT help for international educated OTS. And you know, we can link it up at the end of the show.

Jayson Davies 37:24

Definitely. Alright, well, so that is quite an experience, believe it or not, actually, in fact, I just had someone reach out to me the other day, we get like, 5% of the listeners that come from this show come from Europe, Australia, and China or Asia region. So for anyone listening, thank you so much for listening. First of all, for anyone outside of the states, it's a blessing to have you joining us, what would be that first step recommendation that you would give, for someone listening, looking to move to the US?

Ushma Sampat 37:58

It can definitely feel like a never ending process with a huge investment in terms of time and money. You know, I've heard many people in us say it is expensive. Can you imagine how expensive it could be pretty for somebody who's an international applicant, but it is worth every minute and every penny. In the end, I will add one more thing. seek support from others who have undergone this process, it will save you a lot of time and headache, instead of reinventing the wheel. I know I had to do that. And I don't wish that anybody else would have to. So reach out to somebody who's gone through the process.

Jayson Davies 38:38

Well said and again, we'll make sure to link to your Facebook group in the show notes. So check that out. Alright, let's talk about school based occupational therapy. You're here you are licensed, you can work. Thank God you're not a volunteer, you're actually getting paid for your work now. How do you feel all of your experiences as an internationally trained OT impacted your current skills and preferences as a school based OT,

Ushma Sampat 39:04

I feel like the OT foundational skills are so ingrained in me. And the clinical exposure and hands on approach from day one of od school has really helped me solidify my clinical reasoning skills. I remember activity analysis was given so much importance. And we often use a bottom up approach, which taught me to really dig deeper, to analyze understand why and then problem solve to support. Being an internationally educated OT, living and working in a different country made me also culturally more aware and more sensitive, partly due to the exposure, but largely due to my own lived experiences. I learned to view myself in a supporting role. Give emphasis to a team approach with the parent is the expert of the child. In the natural environment at a solid foundation, and I give all of that regard to being internationally educated and having moved to another country to work, it just opens your eyes up to so many new and different things.

Jayson Davies 40:15

Yeah, and I think as an occupational therapist understanding, you know, we never truly understand the culture of other people, like we don't live in their house, we don't live in their community. We don't know that. But being aware of that, and being aware that other cultures exist, and that other people live differently than we do, is just so important. And so you've had new

Ushma Sampat 40:39

Yes, yeah, they value something completely different, it might be so different, and you are no one to judge if that is right or wrong. Same, like a parent knows what's best for their child, you are no one to judge whether that's the right way or wrong way. You can guide them, you can support them, but it is their way. And their culture, the values, their habits, their routines, will determine what they find meaning in, right.

Jayson Davies 41:05

Yeah, and I think you'll agree with this, too. But each classroom has its own culture as well. And so you said something very important. You said, taking on kind of a supplementary role is what you learned or what you realize. And that in itself is difficult. seeing yourself as supplemental to a classroom and knowing that that teacher is the leader in that in that the president of their classroom, and absolutely. Yeah, and so I don't know, if you want to add anything to that, just about, you know, being supplemental to the classroom.

Ushma Sampat 41:39

No, I think you absolutely nailed it, we, you know, look at yourself as a resource as an support for the teachers you serve for the schools you serve for the district you serve. Think outside the box, you know, you don't have to be the main hero of the film, you can be a supporting role and still add so much value.

Jayson Davies 42:00

That is a quote to remember right? You can be the supporting character and still add value, I like it. Alright, we're getting down to the last few questions, but we're gonna stay on that school based OT realm. What do you feel are some of the most or maybe the most important skill for a school based OT to acquire and build upon to be successful?

Ushma Sampat 42:22

Of course, I think knowledge which is very specific to the school system, like the laws that govern school based practice, the IEP process, scope of practice, all of that is very important. I also think it's very important to set a solid process for reference. And moving on to discontinuation of services, the whole thing like how why would somebody go there? Why would somebody get services or not? Why would they get concert versus direct, right? You're really trying to get into the nitty gritty of those things, striving to be a resource for the schools yourself to an RTI approach, not only the kids on the IEP, there's another thing that is often overlooked. And having a robust workload management system to help with keeping track of multiple moving pieces at school based on these we know we have a referral coming in, we have an IEP do some other teacher has given, you know, the pre referral form we have a screening done an assessment is we have a lot of moving pieces. And that is just for one side. Can you imagine having that for multiple fights, right. So moving and looking at it, from a workload perspective, instead of a caseload perspective, would be another great skill, or another great quality to invite as a school baseball team.

Jayson Davies 43:44

You know, I think you just basically wrapped up the final two questions that I had really, you know, just kind of what is some advice to a school based occupational therapist, whether they're internationally trained or trained here in the United States? I don't know. Do you have one piece of advice based upon what you just said, that they should work on?

Ushma Sampat 44:04

Yeah, I think first and foremost thing is make use of the privilege of being able to see the child in the natural environment. If you look closely, it gives you so much more information that is often missed when the child is seen out of context. So that's number one, I actually have two more

Jayson Davies 44:23

Go for it.

Ushma Sampat 44:25

And that would be collaborate with your IEP team. They bring so much expertise to the table, which is instrumental in our decision. And next steps, you know, going back to what we talked about earlier, and the last would be remember that in addition to remediation, we as OTs are also experts in modifying the environment, adapting the activity, so that the child can be more successful. Don't forget to explore your full potential.

Jayson Davies 44:56

Absolutely. Well, Ushma, this has been so much Fine, my neck is actually starting to hurt from nodding with you like everything you're saying, I'm just nodding. And you all can't see that out there listening. But I'm just like nodding this entire conversation. So I really do appreciate it. And I want to give you the opportunity to share where anyone interested in learning more about you more about the world of OT, where can they go?

Ushma Sampat 45:18

Absolutely. So for anybody who's new to school based OT or interested in the school based od course, you could visit, or the short version of that is school is all lowercase and OT is capital. You can follow me on Instagram, and my handle is worldofot. Or you can connect with me on Facebook. I'm Ushma Sampat, or visit my website and you can, you know, probably get all the information you need about me and my practice at

Jayson Davies 45:59

All right. And we'll be sure to link to all of those in the show notes so you can get easy access to them. So OSHA, thank you so much for coming on here. Really appreciate it. Like I said, I've been nodding this entire time. Because everything that you're saying just aligns so much with the values that I shared, the school based occupational therapist, thank you so much for sharing just about how different the culture is and what we can learn from it. You know, it's important to understand the differences. But you got to go further and understand what we can learn from that. So thank you so much. Really appreciate you coming on.

Ushma Sampat 46:35

Absolutely. This was so much fun. Thank you, Jayson.

Jayson Davies 46:38

Thank you. We'll have to do it again on another topic in the future. It'll be great,

Ushma Sampat 46:41


Jayson Davies 46:43

All right. Well, take care. Enjoy the rest of your day. And we'll see you sometime in the future.

Ushma Sampat 46:49

Sounds good. Take care. Bye. Bye.

Jayson Davies 46:52

One last time. Thank you so much, Ushma for coming on to the podcast. It was such a pleasure to have her on and thank you, you for listening today. This was such a great episode. I cannot agree more with everything that Ushma was saying and I hope you had a chance to learn from this conversation today. It really was a great conversation and I look forward to more in the future. So with that, until next time, I will see you later. Take care. Bye bye.

Amazing Narrator 47:19

Thank you for listening to the OT schoolhouse podcast. For more ways to help you and your students succeed right now. Head on over to until next time, class is dismissed.


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