I'm Carol Siebert. I've been an occupational therapist for more than 25 years. I LOVE being an OT.
My views of occupation and of occupational therapy have been shaped by many things. I'll share four of those here:
1) My experience as a person with a chronic condition. Dealing with a health condition (and our frustrating health care system) should never get more attention, energy or importance than having a life! Living Life to It's Fullest means that managing a health condition is just one aspect of living life. As a person, a patient and as an OT, I know that. But it's clear that too much of our healthcare system is based on the assumption that being a patient-a compliant patient-- is more important than having a life. For me, OT is about living life while managing one or more health conditions.
2)The work I was doing when I discovered OT: working in a group home with young adults with profound intellectual and physical impairments. This is where I learned the concept of Dignity of Risk. In a nutshell, that means being human is about having choices and taking chances-there's more to life than being safe. Those clients are the reason I am an OT. My boss (Jan, a social worker), is the person who taught me the meaning of "change agent."
3) The guidance of professors who were wonderful mentors and powerful OTs. They taught me that OT is as much about thinking, reasoning and advocating as it is doing--and that our profession is most powerful when it deals with the most commonplace. Yes, in many ways OT is rocket science. Thanks especially to Cathy Nielson and Marlys Mitchell.
4) An early practice encounter that forced me to learn about payment and policy. I learned-and continue to learn--that our practice does not exist in a vacuum. Just as our patients and clients live in a dynamic social, physical and cultural world, our practice exists in a dynamic social, economic and political world. Those factors and forces that influence practice fascinate me. I choose to use a term Barb Schell associated with this aspect of practice: "pragmatics" to refer to the many factors that affect our practice beyond those driven by a given patient or client's needs and priorities.
Most of my career has been in some form of home care or community practice. I've directed an adult day program, practiced in home health, consulted in home modifications, taught in an OT curriculum on practice environments, health conditions, gerontology and administration and policy. Most recently I've worked on a community health project serving low income older adults and Medicaid recipients. I am a policy geek--and thanks to the internet I can look up Medicare regulations, licensure provisions or reimbursement criteria so I am prepared to respond when someone tells me "OT can't . . . " or "OT shouldn't . . ."
OK, enough about where I'm coming from. Those who know me know that sometimes I just have to connect a bunch of ideas that are buzzing around in my brain and get them down in words. This blog is my occasional effort to do just that. Let me know what you think!