Assuring a Seat at our Table for All of our Colleagues

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brent braveman's blog

Thoughts about occupational therapy, interdisciplinary management and living live to its fullest!

Assuring a Seat at our Table for All of our Colleagues

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The following are my personal thoughts and not posted on behalf of the Board of Directors.

I have been fairly active in politics at multiple levels for many years. I get interested in elections for City Council, Mayor, state offices, national offices and national elections. 

One of my favorite stories to tell is about a fund raising event I attended in Houston for Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. It was held at a friend’s home and there were just about 100 of us so it was an interactive event with then candidate Baldwin.

When she gave her remarks to the crowd, she discussed “having a seat at the table” and remarked, “If you do not have a seat at the table talking WITH them, they are talking ABOUT you.”

One of the attendees politely interrupted candidate Baldwin and shared, “In Texas we say that if you do not have a seat the table you are on the menu!”

Recently the Board of Directors issued a position statement on moving to a single point of entry at the doctoral level for the occupational therapist and called for a profession wide dialogue.

As a member of the Board, and a long-standing member of AOTA I expected that this would give rise to passionate expression of opinion and that there would be divergent thinking about this potential change.

Dialogue has started here on OTConnections and that is great. Participation has been limited as if often the case and has hardly been profession wide. My guess is that fewer than 60 persons have posted and perhaps less than 2 or 3 times that are reading the posts. As expected, there is frequent participation from a few of us and many have posted just once.

My concern is that in several discussion venues I have heard messages that in one way or another devalue the opinion and perspectives of others because of their professional roles. A wonderful thing about the discussions here on OTConnections is that I am hearing the voices of persons I have never seen post before. That is wonderful even if they disagree with me. What concerns me most are suggestions that one perspective is more valid or valuable than another.

We MUST hear from direct care clinicians and those involved in treating clients everyday whether those clients are individuals, families, organizations, communities or populations. It is critical that those voices are heard. However, here are other voices who must also be heard and who also have valid and critical information to bring to the dialogue:

  • Part-time and full-time college and university educators
  • Employers
  • Managers
  • Supervisors of entry-level and experienced occupational therapy personnel
  • Consumers
  • Academic Fieldwork Coordinators
  • Clinical Instructors/Clinical Fieldwork Educators
  • Academic Program Directors
  • State Association Presidents
  • Retired AOTA members of all types
  • Others that I have unintentionally overlooked

I hope as we continue over the next year or more that our dialogue truly becomes profession wide, that many questions are asked, that many points of view are heard, that much information and data are collected and analyzed……….

Most importantly, I hope that each and every one of us welcome each and all of our colleagues to a seat at the table……….so that they feel that they in the discussion and not that they are on the menu.

  • My two cents is- I think the voices are all over social media in terms of consumers goes. They can be on Facebook groups and fan pages. They can be on Twitter chats. The thing for us as a profession is to decipher which of these are pressing issues and which of them are not as such.

  • How do you intend to get input from the people you mentioned in bold in your post? Most OT's do not check the site or this portion of it on a regular basis, if at all.  So how do you plan to make them aware of proposed changes and include them in on the discussion?  What steps is AOTA planning to take to broadcast this important piece of information?  Hopefully this is not the full extent of you invitation to hear their voices.

  • Hi Jklasch,

    I encourage you to check the following section of the AOTA Website where information is added as we go along

    Members of the BOD have conducted call with the leadership of the following groups already (I have probably missed a call or two):

    • Accreditation Council on Occupational Therapy Education

    • Assembly of Student Delegates

    • Commission on Practice

    • Commission on Education

    • Representative Assembly Coordinating Council

    • Affiliated State Association Presidents

    • Special Interest Sections Steering Council

    Board members are attending state association conferences this fall and in the spring (I went to Kansas in September).

    In addition we have 3 Webinars scheduled and have over 50 members signed up to participate next week. Two more will follow.

    Ginny Stoffel, Amy Lamb, myself and other Board members will spend two days in New Orleans in October at the combined Academic Leadership Councils (OT and OTA) and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator meetings with probably over 300 in attendance.

    In addition to other meetings there is a Town Hall planned at the Annual Conference & Expo in Nashville.

    I am sure I am forgetting other steps as this was off the top of my head. So my blog post was far from the “full extent” of our efforts.

    What else would you suggest?

    I am getting on the Monthly officers' call in 45 minutes and we discuss the OTD communication plan every month, what feedback can I bring forward for you?


  • Ooops, also want to be sure and mention that several members of the Board of Directors will be at the Student Conclave in St Louis in November!