"What's In My Bag?" with Paula Offutt, OT/L
At Stellar Therapy Services, we believe that our therapists are the best in the business. Their dedication, passion, and expertise is second-to-none. To showcase their knowledge, we decided to start a series called, “What’s in my Bag?”
“What’s in my Bag?” highlights real Stellar therapists in their everyday professional lives.
For our first blog, we’d like you to meet Paula Offutt. Paula is Stellar’s Pediatric Clinical Coordinator. In addition to having her own caseload, she provides procedural support to school Occupational and Physical Therapists, as well as clinical support to the OTs. She has nearly thirty years of experience in her field and is an incredible asset to our team! So without further ado, take it away, Paula!
Alright y’all, let’s get this out of the way: my bag. It’s, well… it’s actually a diaper bag.
I bought it on Amazon, and I LOVE it. Why a diaper bag, you ask? Well, what’s more organized than something designed to carry a plethora of items for new parents? My therapy bag has ALL the pockets. It has pockets outside for files, pockets inside that hold my computer charging cord, planner, and other odds and ends. There is even a side pocket that is perfect for my umbrella. The main compartment holds my computer, clipboard, notebook, and there is plenty of space for other things.
As a therapist who does not treat regularly, I don’t carry a large variety of treatment items and activities. I do some administrative work for the school therapy team, and that typically involves a lot of phone calls, texting, e-mailing, and online research—so it’s essential that my bag holds my tech items. I never leave home without my laptop and charging cord, as well as a charging cord for my phone.
I attend a lot of IEP meetings. Because of this, my schedule gets really hectic. I tend to be a bit old-school, so I use a good ole’ fashioned paper planner to keep track of my schedule. This planner has—you guessed it—extra pockets for pencils and pens. You might notice in the photo below that the planner says “2016–2017.” I’m not a time traveler—I love the cover so much, I keep it because it’s functional. I buy replacement calendars each year. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, am I right?
One thing I do a fair amount of is evaluations. For these, I have a little “eval kit.” It’s in an adorable bag that matches my “therapy/diaper” bag. My eval kit holds pencils, crayons, markers, scissors, and a few basic manipulative tasks that I use to assess fine motor skills.
When doing evaluations at one of my regular schools, I don’t always carry construction paper or adapted writing paper, because those supplies are usually available to me at the school. But if I’m doing an eval at an unfamiliar school to help someone else out, I take those things with me. The same goes with the test protocols—I keep a few basic ones like VMI, SFA, and SPM. I always have my clipboard with service logs and a notebook and pen. So, you can see, the aforementioned pockets? They’re really important.
I know every therapist is different, and this is what works well for me. Hopefully you can take a peek and adapt some of my methods to help you in your daily work life. Thanks for taking the time to see “What’s in my Bag!”
Paula Offutt, OT/L, is the Pediatric Clinical Coordinator for Stellar Therapy Services. With nearly 30 years of experience in her field, Paula brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the team. In her personal life, Paula loves spending time with her husband and two kids, Josie and Zac.