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My Qualifications to Serve as your Next Vice President of the American Occupational Therapy Association

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My Qualifications to Serve as your Next Vice President of the American Occupational Therapy Association

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When I reflect on my career in relation to my qualifications to fulfill the role of Vice President of AOTA, I have had the opportunity to ruminate on the experiences that have made me into the professional I am today.  Those who are close to me know I do not often talk about things I have done or accomplished but prefer to talk about how collectively we are working to advance the profession.   What I hope you take away from this post is how I am qualified to lead occupational therapy during this critical time on our road to the Centennial Vision, to build upon the Centennial Vision foundation and cast our vision for 2017 and beyond, to develop the strategic relationships and avenues to make that vision a reality, and to serve the profession of occupational therapy. 

I have a wide range of experience in clinical practice having worked in the school systems, skilled nursing facilities, assisted and independent living facilities, home health, acute hospitals, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.  I purposely sought this variation in my clinical practice to gain a practical understanding of what opportunities and challenges clinicians face in the different areas and how policies impact practice in those areas.  In many of these settings, I was able to identify opportunities and develop programs to move occupational therapy forward.  In addition, I have been operating my consulting practice since 2000 serving as a clinician and as a strategic planning and health policy consultant.

In my academic experience, my strategic planning skills were quickly noticed and utilized to lead programs through accreditation, curriculum restructuring, and program evaluation.  I just recently returned to academia after managing outpatient rehabilitation and home health service lines within assisted and independent living communities.  What struck me was how challenging it was to manage my service with AOTPAC and maintain my clinical practice.  This is also a message I hear from others in practice.  If elected as your next Vice President, I am committed to working to establish pathways that make it easier for those in clinical practice to serve their profession if they have the desire to do so.  What drew me to my current academic position was a contract that allowed flexibility for me to be able to practice clinically and continue my service to the profession as well as be able to play an active role in the preparation of our next generation of occupational therapy professionals. 

Vision is essential for any organization.  I view the role of the Vice President to be the link between the Centennial Vision and where we go next.  AOTA’s Centennial Vision is serving as our current road map and I have been consistently promoting and sharing the Centennial message as I travelled around the country speaking to occupational therapy groups in my tenure as Chair of the American Occupational Therapy Political Action Committee (AOTPAC).   There is a strong link between advocacy efforts of AOTA, its members and achieving the Centennial Vision.    In my vision, occupational therapy is understood by all.  Insurance companies are making reimbursement decisions based on clinical need not policy mandates.   Occupational therapy professionals across the country are connected to policymakers at the state and federal levels.  Occupational therapy practitioners are client centered in their treatments, engaging in research, and adequately reimbursed for services in all settings.  We must critically examine where we are, where we want to be, what opportunities and challenges exist and what actions must be taken to achieve our vision.  However, it is not the vision of a sole individual that will create the future of occupational therapy.  The vision for the future of occupational therapy will require the engagement of the entire membership.

As Vice President, I will bring my skills of collaboration to the table.  I am committed to bringing people together and working collaboratively to establish the next steps for occupational therapy.  I have a long history of bringing people together for a common cause.  I am in an optimal position to serve as a bridge between leadership and members, state associations and AOTA, experienced practitioners and the next generation, clinicians and academics, and grassroots advocates and policymakers.  Over the past six years I have enjoyed being connected to occupational therapy professionals and students across the country and having the opportunities to interact with them when talking about AOTPAC, health care reform, membership in state and national associations, mentoring in the development of leaders and more.  I have travelled to over 20 states and connect virtually with organizations on a regular basis across the country.  I take comments, feedback and suggestions back to the AOTA Board of Directors and AOTA staff.  Serving as Vice President, allows me to continue this outreach to occupational therapy professionals and students at the local level and affords me the opportunity to have a more direct impact. 

I served the Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association (NOTA) as their registered/paid lobbyist for eight years.  I had a vision where an occupational therapy professional could serve in this capacity to advance and protect the profession.  I took that vision and shared it with the leaders of NOTA.  They supported and allowed me to serve in this capacity and to be the first occupational therapist serving as a paid/registered lobbyist for a state occupational therapy association.  I worked strategically with the leaders of NOTA and its members to develop the relationships necessary for occupational therapy within the state legislature, state departments, and coalitions with other health professionals.  In the time I served as the lobbyist we took the existing voluntary licensure to mandatory licensure, established continuing competency requirements, and defeated the physical therapy expansion of scope of practice legislation.  This is a clear demonstration of a vision, and the strategic approach put in place to make the vision a reality.  You will also notice I said we as it was by promoting advocacy and empowering the occupational therapy professionals in the state to make their voices heard that we together accomplished these things.  When transitioning out of the position, I had the opportunity to mentor another occupational therapist to serve in this capacity and he continues on in that position today. 

I am committed to developing others to use their strengths to serve the profession.  Our “next generation” is a great mix of youth and experience.  We have second career individuals bringing forth the knowledge and experience from other fields to occupational therapy.  This has tremendous potential to transform occupational therapy in a multitude of ways.  Our younger generation is about promotion, they are open to a variety of methods, and they are driven to take action.  Raised in the era of technology, it is natural for our professions youth to share their message via a variety of sources.  Those in leadership must open doors and provide avenues for them to fly.  With mentorship our next generation of occupational therapy professionals will have the tools to make occupational therapy a “widely recognized” profession.

 I have a record of leadership as the Chair of AOTPAC.  In this position I set forth a vision to transform the board’s role to one of policy and advocacy education in addition to the fundraising role traditionally held by AOTPAC.  I felt strongly, that linking grassroots advocacy efforts would increase membership involvement in AOTPAC and thereby also increase fundraising efforts.  With the support of my AOTPAC Board of Directors I also launched a new initiative to set a conference fundraising goal for AOTPAC.  In 2008, we set our first conference fundraising goal at $30,000.  The goal was seen as lofty in comparison as it doubled previous conference fundraising efforts, we even got some laughs from others along the way.  We not only achieved this goal, we surpassed it bringing in double at $60,000.  As a result AOTPAC consistently sets conference fundraising goals at these higher levels and has achieved them annually.  Another vision was to have 100% of the AOTA leadership supporting AOTPAC.  We went into action networking with, presenting to and creating relationships between AOTPAC and AOTA’s other leadership groups.  Since 2007, AOTPAC has received 100% participation in AOTPAC contributions from the AOTA Board of Directors and Assembly of Student Delegates by simply sharing the message of leading by example.  AOTPAC has more than doubled the percentage of participation among other leadership groups including the Affiliated State Association Presidents, the Representative Assembly, and the academic program directors.  The success of AOTPAC under my chairmanship is a result of setting forth a vision, establishing a strategic plan, and executing the plan to produce outcomes.  It is also an example of the tireless commitment I have to promoting the profession of occupational therapy.  That is what you can expect from me as your next Vice President. 

  • People who have become affected by physical troubles will need an Occupational Therapy help. Patients extent the orbit from children who are having trouble development certain motive skills up to seniors who are trying to recover the fine control they had when they were younger.