Why this is an AMAZING site (Part I of II)

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Jun 19, 2014
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Why this such an AMAZING site from a newbie Part I (Long Preamble)
This is a locked thread now, but last night, actually about 4:30am I still had trouble sleeping. A (presumably young) college student with ambitions of defraying her school costs by selling soap and lip bars left a “farewell post” last night and it made me sad.I am an occupational therapist (OTR) who has been practicing for almost 30 years. I have maintained my clinical competence, (now mandatory to keep my license), by attending continuing ed courses, reading, participating in online education and teaching. In one life I was an instructor for an associate’s degree program for occupational therapy assistants, (OTAs) – they provide direct therapy services under the supervision/license of an occupational therapist. After each discipline completes their coursework they must participate in a residency program in a minimum of 2 clinical settings for a designated amount of hours before they can sit for their national boards. If they don’t pass both of these clinicals, they are not eligible to sit for their boards, essentially ending their career before it’s begun. If they don’t pass their boards, they cannot get their license also ending their career before it’s begun. As nothing is B&W, there are some options for these students; fortunately I would say 99% don’t get this far in their respective programs before they wash out. However, colleges and universities pride themselves in their graduation rates. The private college I worked for also sets their tuition rates about the course of study for each student, not per class or semester.This means the perspective student takes out a loan on their entire degree, paid to the school in specified time frames. If they do not succeed in their respective program, they still owe their money. Just to clarify, there is recourse to switch to a new program but this generally means more loans to essentially start over. Each curriculum is customized to meet accreditation standards and many classes will not transfer over to something new. As I only taught courses in the OT program, I consistently heard from my students that their basic coursework didn’t prepare them all at for their main classes in OT. We have 18 months to prepare these students to start treating patients. This is not a remedial program but an accelerated program. For example, they have 4 weeks for their gross anatomy class. As an OTR student I had the benefit of 24 weeks- 12 weeks lecture and 12 weeks lab for essentially the same amount of information. Most of this is largely memorization, reinforced with the cadaver lab. There are approx. 320 pairs of muscles in the body for which we need to know their attachments, what they do, and what nerve(s) supply those muscles to make them work. Finally we need to know what happens when there is damage to the muscle(s) or nerve supply so we know how to fix it, or compensate for it. In our OTA program we reduced our muscle list group to approx. 160. This is also the only class they take for that semester so they live, breath eat it 4 days a week, 3 1/2 hours a day. They had almost daily quizzes for (10%) of their grade, a mid-term, 25%, and their final clinical, and exam for the rest of the grade. Anyway, a big change from passing a gen-ed class by essentially showing up, to having to live, breath, and eat anatomy. As an admitted hoarder, I still have most of my school index cards, all well-worn with coffee and food stains and probably DNA from frustrated tears. I used to bring that box in with me to class on the first session to help students get a handle on how to learn the material. By the mid-term I could predict almost with certainty which students would pass and who would fail. At our school I think a student had 2 opportunities to pass a given class with a minimum grade of “C”. After that you were done. Time frame wise, they would have been in school for about a year by that point at a cost of almost 30k. A lot of pressure for both the student and the instructor. These schools HATE attrition. Their profit margins are based on butts in the seats completing their entire curriculum; a loss of one student reflects thousands of dollars. We offered counseling, tutoring groups, anything we could think of to make all of our students successful. Side note: This particular community college does not require SATs or ACT scores for admission. A high school diploma or a GED certificate with funding is all you need. Pick your program and you are in. I had a full range of students from those that had previous degrees and could not find a job with their respective BA/BS, to those who could barely read or write. I had female students who by circumstances of life had children early and never got the opportunity to further their education. I had retired servicemen who didn’t realize they would be spending time with “Grandma” in the shower or helping them toilet to facilitate their independence after a stroke or fractured hip. Our program director was routinely given a list of students who were enrolled, “recruited” by admissions into the OT program. She was able to meet with them before they entered our core curriculum and follow their grades and attendance history. Basically, we knew who our future “problem-children” were before they started. Our attrition rate per graduating class was between 28%-36% and we had to justify every one of them.(I didn’t mind that part.) Each student would meet with the dean to discuss what happened and generally it stopped there. Most left the program because they had no clue what OT was,- they just saw they could make good money when they graduated.For others, they didn’t put in the work or it was just not within their abilities. My heart only broke for the students who worked twice as hard and long to process/”get it” and it just didn’t work out. Fortunately, these students were offset with the rare jewels that with every life circumstance against them, they made it through the program and I now proudly call them one of my peers. After 18 months in a classroom with some scheduled clinical observations they now have to prove their skills in the real world. This is the first time they officially can touch a patient. OTAs complete 2 six week internships in 2 different clinical settings to prep for their boards. They now have to face, well ME. I am one of their last obstacles before their boards to determine their competency. I’ve rambled long enough so basically the final passing criterion comes down to, would I let this new grad treat my family member. It’s all good when the answer is “yes”, but you can only imagine what it’s like to fail someone. After I could no longer afford to teach and went back into clinical practice, I was usually asked to supervise students who frankly shouldn’t have made it that far.I had a very structured outline with measurable passing criteria to ease their process from school into the real world. They knew upfront what they had to do to pass. Though they were still students, they had to learn the world was no longer about them but about the patients they were about to treat. Their personal world ended the minute the door to the building closed behind them. (All of my failed students never learned that lesson). We also had a standardized evaluation form from the National accreditation body that we both kept a copy of for their official results/grades. Frankly, passing a student is easy. If it’s their first clinical you can always pass the buck to the next supervisor hoping they will do the hard work of failing them. If it’s their 2nd clinical, you figure they will fail their boards (3 chances I think at approx. $500.00 a pop).I never took the easy way out.If a student did not follow basic safety procedures or could not tell me why they were doing the treatment they were doing with their patient I couldn’t in clear conscience pass them.Technique and an expanded toolbox of functional activities they would gain with experience, but simple safety procedures and fundamental knowledge were the bare minimums. Just for clarification purposes, the time students spend with patients is non-billable. (Different from my day). They are always in direct vision site. If we were practicing toilet transfers, there would be a 3 person party in the bathroom. If I was directly there with the student I could bill for the treatment, but they could not treat a patient alone. So if a student failed, I had documented examples of what went wrong. These dated, timed examples were given to the student as well as the school when they were terminated.Most realized that this just was not the career for them.
Part Deux: Apology to my nursing peers out there but many of these students went back to the LPN program…..The inevitable few that blamed me, the school, everyone/everything but themselves would go through the appeals process and some even managed to get permission for an additional clinical. I used to monitor these students –A member of the general public cannot get board results but licensure information is easily obtained. In Indiana you can get a temp license for a year without taking your boards. Also different from my day. To the best of my knowledge no student I ever failed ever received a full license.So after all this , why do I say this site is amazing? So after all this what’s my point?Soaping to me is like anatomy class and student clinicals. There are fixed variables, lye safety, oil properties, soap calc/safe recipes, additives, colorant knowledge, eo/fo education, and that’s just the bare basics. This is followed by the clinical experience which is reflected in the final product.Now while I don’t think soaping is rocket science, you do have to have fundamental chemistry knowledge. If you don’t understand how lye reacts with oils to make soap and you are opening your etsy account, frankly I think you are an idiot. Besides that, you will have invested money and time which inevitably will go down the proverbial drain because of an inferior product. You have a wonderful opportunity here. You have the expertise of seasoned soapers who didn’t have the benefit of You Tube “University”. Soap calculators weren’t widely available and the internet hadn’t replaced our local libraries. To decide that soaping, bath and skin products may make a good business, wonderful. Just be prepared to pay your dues.If you can’t re-create your products almost in your sleep, you aren’t ready. If you can’t trouble-shoot and fix a possible expensive disaster, you aren’t ready. Finally, if you think you can start a business taking all of the potential short-cuts, you are doomed.Having your own business is HARD. Been there, done that, bought and sold the frigging t-shirt. I had my own practice many moons ago before this progressive health care disaster. I had assistants working with me and we all did very well.12 hour days were the average. I worked 6 days a week and Sundays were spent doing paperwork. It totally consumed me and though I made very good money, it was my life. If you think soap will provide you with a self-supporting income, how many soap bars, bath bombs, lotions and shampoos will you have to produce and sell consistently on a monthly basis to pay your bills? Hundreds, thousands of units? If you are choosing to take shortcuts and produce garbage there is no way you will have the discipline to make the business work. You just don’t have the work ethic to get it done. If you don’t care that a child may use your products and potentially have skin damage or God forbid permanent eye damage, then frankly there are easier ways for you to make money. Go sell used flood cars or become a politician – moral integrity and experience not necessarily required. But after all this, if you still carry a passion and desire to become an expert in something you love, (Corine), then by all means go for it!. Just be prepared to pay your dues. Finally, yes I’ve finally gotten to the point I wanted to make. The AMAZING part of being here is that you have the advantage of these wonderful experts from all around the world who from their love of soaping FREELY share their advice and wisdom. They patiently and kindly answer the same version of the same newbie questions over and over again. They are even are nice to the transparent “get rich schemers” because of respect for their craft.This group in numbers cheers your successes and will support your failures. They will also give you honesty and yes it may hurt your feelings sometimes. The best learning opportunities in life always hurt. But a true friend will always give you the truth, even when it hurts. So to leave because some friends gave you a well-intentioned truth, well IMO it’s just immature. If you plan to own a successful business, you definitely need to grow a pair of bath bombs. Benefit and share regularly with this community because the group collective is ultimately the amazing part.
"10 - "I'm leaving" posts are not allowed. Should you wish to leave the forum simply go. Go now. Leave already... just leave and don't look back."

Had a good chuckle at "grow a pair of bath bombs"
"10 - "I'm leaving" posts are not allowed. Should you wish to leave the forum simply go. Go now. Leave already... just leave and don't look back."

That is why the post was deleted by a Mod and the forum is heavily moderated.
Thx guys. You deserve the credit; I love the star though (blush). The policy is sound as well.

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