Here we are in the New Year, and it has been too long since my last blog. After a lovely holiday with my family, we were suddenly consumed with the loss of a loved one and had to travel to Florida to be with family. Yes, the loss of those we love touches all of us, and we must make room in our lives to mourn and then move on.
So now I’m back again, healed and thinking about the Centennial Vision and New Year’s resolutions—and I have come up with a New Year’s resolution for each key concept in the Vision statement.
I resolved to do my part on a daily basis to assure occupational therapy is more powerful. In this regard, we have recently established a new ad hoc committee to be responsive to specific issues related to health care reform. Brent Braveman is leading the group, and we have assembled experts to chart out the strategies. We will work to guarantee occupational therapy is represented in accountability care organizations, medical homes, health and wellness programs, telemedicine, and other key areas that are front and center in health care reform.
I also resolved to see that our profession is widely understood. I was having lunch yesterday with my husband and a woman in his dance class. As we were discussing the need for job creation, she said, “Well, I suppose that as an occupational therapist, you are really into that.” This was my opportunity to launch into what occupational therapy really is. I told her that although occupational therapists can help with job placement, we actually are concerned with much more. We help people live life to its fullest, no matter what, and define occupations as all the things we do to occupy our time, stay healthy, be productive, and so on. Then I said, “For example, you occupy a portion of your time dancing, and in doing so you are creating a healthier and happier life for yourself. Dancing is an activity we would call an occupation.” We began to discuss what occupations would constitute a health-promoting lifestyle for her and how an occupational therapy practitioner could help her. Beyond my personal interactions, I have also been urging AOTA to work hard at creating public awareness of our profession in the media. If you are tracking this, you know that occupational therapy was emphasized as one of Rep. Giffords’ therapies in stories on the PBS Newshour, USA Today, the CBS Radio News Network, and National Public Radio, among many others. There is no question that I am resolved to increase the public’s understanding of our profession in 2011.
I have some resolutions that address the science-driven and evidence-based focus of the Vision as well. I resolved to visit more foundations and government offices to network and create relationships that may help to accelerate progress on the AOTA/AOTF research agenda. In January, a group of us (including AOTA and AOTF leadership) visited the National Institute of Aging of NIH, meeting with Deputy Director Marie Bernard, to discuss possible approaches for building research capacity in our profession. As for evidence, I resolved to get the lay of the land of our own profession relative to others with respect to standards of evidence-based practice.
Lastly, I have made a resolution to put in place initiatives to grow diversity and global networking in our profession. I resolved to explore funding sources to support the education of diverse students who want to enter our profession. I am looking into ways in which we can build stronger bonds with the international community of occupational therapists, and I am going to work on my skills in social networking.
It certainly was neat to have the Centennial Vision as a framework for formulating my New Year’s resolutions. If you haven’t tried this—I recommend it! And I’d love to hear your ideas.
My goal this year is to use firm science-driven evidence based practices as I start my first job as an OTR/L! Time to practice what I've been preaching throughout my student-hood.
My goal this year is to encourage consumers to use OT Connections. I believe that even though I have a disability that is against the stereotype of the OT profession, it doesn't mean that I couldn't be a strong advocate for OT. In centennial vision terms...
Powerful- I will continue to do so by educating caretakers and consumers in the Aspie community. I will educate those of them who don't know OT about what OT is... and the potentials that the profession could bring.
Widely understood- I have been explaining OT concepts in a way that this community to understand... and will continue to do so.
Science driven and evidence based- By hearing the things that the caretakers had tried in their situations, I think I could relay these things to researchers in OT about possible research ideas- qualitative and quantitative research wise. Of course, I also know that I could be a key player in future autism research in OT... whether I am a principle investigator or not.
Diversity- By finishing my master's degree in OT, I am hoping to make OT headlines by being one of the few Aspies in history to finish up a master's degree in OT. After that, I am hoping to find a niche somewhere in the profession.
Global networking- I am very fortunate to have a classmate who is from Taiwan. I say that because it allows me to have an opportunity to practice my Mandarin. Hopefully through my conversations with her, I can pick up how to say some of the commonly-used terms in OT in Mandarin. I personally believe that in a diverse changing world, knowing how to explain what OT is in one language is not enough sometimes. Rather, you got to be able to do that for the language(s) that you can speak fluently in. For me, since I am trilingual (English, Cantonese, and Mandarin), so I am challenging myself to be able to explain what OT is in at least two languages, if not all three. (I say at least two because I almost never use Mandarin aside from school.)
I have had the pleasure of promoting occupational therapy as a very much needed service in a community based program that is being developed in my home town. It is an assistive living center with an attached vocational school for adults with Autism. I volunteered to be one of the professionals on the advisory board and hope to continue my conversations on the importance of occupational therapy for this setting, not just in the vocational program, but also as a support for the assistive living so that their clients can "live life to its fullest"!
Your blog was inspiring. How can we get more therapists to identify one thing they can personally do to address each aspect of the Centennial Vision - perhaps a contest for the best ideas! Here are my examples -
The Centennial Vision in 2011—What Can I Personally do to Promote & Support it
•assure occupational therapy is more powerful = I could contact one care organization each month that are front and center in health care reform , to talk about how OT can contribute and expand / improve the care and services for their clients.
•that our profession is widely understood – write at least 2 or 3 articles for local newspapers or magazines, and offer to give talks to senior centers or community clubs
•science-driven and evidence-based – make sure that my own therapists use evidence and provide evidence to them when needed. Offer to participate, when possible, in research studies
•to grow diversity and global networking – increase my use of social networks to network with therapists in other countries