Meet our new Occupational Therapy Student Intern: Alison Chan

About me:
I am in my last year of the Occupational Therapy Program at Rush University in Chicago. I love working with older adults! I will work at Self-help Home 5 days a week, from January through April.

My work at Self-help:
I will be running an occupational therapy group twice a week that focuses on movement. I’ll also be helping with activities in both the independent/assisted living and up on the skilled nursing floors. Come visit me in the 2nd floor activity office!

What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy uses everyday life activities to promote overall well-being, quality of life, and participation in daily activities (AOTA, 2024). Occupational therapy covers the biomechanics and bodily range of motion and movement needed for daily participation with life activities. My project will focus on the impact of movement-based groups with emphasis on mindfulness to connect the mind, body, and spirit as well as create a sense of social connectedness. These movements will include elements of dance, yoga, tai chi, etc.

How did you decide to go into OT? 
I decided to go into occupational therapy (OT) because I saw the impact, joy, and creativity OT has in treating patients that have been injured or have goals with independently completing daily activities using evidence-based practice interventions during my time shadowing occupational therapy. I also love how OT addresses the patient’s motivation and importance of movement for increasing participation in daily activities, quality of life, and for reducing hospital admissions. Movement is essential in balance and mobility for everyday life and with OT it also addresses the individual ability to regain function for their passion or hobby. One aspect of movement I love is dance which is beneficial for individuals’ health and can connect individuals physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially within the community.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Naperville, IL and later moved to Oswego. I am currently living in Schaumburg, IL with my family.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like shopping, exercising, attending church events, and hanging out with friends.

Do you have a hobby outside of work that you love to do?
I like listening to music and singing along to it. My favorite musical style or groups include Motown including bands such as The Temptations, Diana Ross “Ain’t no mountain high enough,” and I like gospel music by Kirk Franklin, Tasha Cobbs, Bethel and Hillsong. Also, I love to cook! Some dishes I like to make include Singapore fried noodles and stir-fried broccoli with beef and coconut milk with mango pudding.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself working either at a subacute/skilled nursing home or a neuro outpatient center as an occupational therapist and co-owning a business with one of my relatives doing a home health company or an Etsy shop. I also hope to find the “one” and get married within 10 years and have my own family.

What do you love about Chicago?
I love that Chicago is by Lake Michigan, one of the biggest lakes and drinking water sources for the city and surrounding neighboring suburbs. I love the lush greens, forest preserves, and the experience of having 4 seasons in a year!

What do you love about Selfhelp?
I love the cultural history and background of a Jewish culture at Selfhelp, with it still being preserved and close knit in the Chicago community, and with Selfhelp being one of the oldest Jewish retirement communities in Chicago. I also love the organization and authenticity of activities, such as music therapy, concerts, and cultural events such as Shabbat and Passover held at Selfhelp. This has such diverse and authentic activities and resources for music therapy and cultural events which make Selfhelp Home very authentic, unique, and flourishing.