Centennial Vision Journal Entry
Penny Moyers, EdD, OTR/L, BCMH, FAOTA
Wow! So much has happened since my last journal entry. The AOTA Board of Directors met the first week of October and heard updates about the activities of Breakwhitelight, our PR firm, who is helping us brand occupational therapy so it becomes widely known.
This Centennial Vision priority is underway and many interviews have been conducted to discern the best ways to describe occupational therapy to the public. Dr. Florence Clark, AOTA’s Vice President, was invited to talk about the branding of the profession during Wisconsin’s state conference. She described to me the widespread enthusiasm expressed in Wisconsin for the way in which AOTA is moving forward in creating public awareness for the profession.
I and other Board of Director members and staff continue to attend state association conferences. I have been to Maine, Indiana, and Illinois; Christina Metzler, our Chief Public Affairs Officer, spoke at the Missouri conference and Maureen Peterson, our Chief Professional Affairs Officer, delivered the keynote address at the Virginia conference; along with Dr. Clark’s visit to Wisconsin and New Mexico, we have been helping members understand and endorse, through their personal action, the profession’s Centennial Vision.
Dr. Moyers spoke about the importance of leadership development and the Centennial Vision to students at the University of Indianapolis.
In conjunction with the Maine and Indiana conferences, I have held special sessions with students and faculty in developing the leadership needed to carry out the Centennial Vision. While in Illinois, I co-led with Lisa Mahaffey, AOTA’s chairperson of the Mental Health Special Interest Section (MHSIS), a discussion regarding the way in which members of the state association could work together to improve the profession’s capacity to deliver occupational therapy services to persons with serious mental illness.
Emphasis was placed on state and federal advocacy, as well as obtaining AOTA’s Board Certification in Mental Health in order to demonstrate ongoing competence when representing oneself as a qualified mental health provider in the state. Time was spent discussing how to increase the availability of mental health fieldwork for all educational programs in the state of Illinois. Needless to say, the state associations reflect amazing vitality and energy.
Continuing to spread the word about the Centennial Vision, Fred Somers and Maureen Peterson conducted a very successful Town Hall meeting at the invitation of the occupational therapy faculty of Seton Hall University in New Jersey. While there, they had the opportunity to dialogue with faculty, to have a 2-hour informal discussion with students about a myriad of professional issues and, finally, to speak to approximately 40 New Jersey practitioners, in addition to students, about the Centennial Vision and the importance of all practitioners “seeing themselves” as an integral part of the success of that vision.
I also attended AOTA’s Program Directors’ meeting in Rhode Island. Linda Orr and Linda Musselman led an excellent meeting for all the OTA and OT program directors respectively. Their hard work was much appreciated, along with the efforts of AOTA staff Neil Harvison and Denise Rotert. Ruth Ann Watkins, President of AOTF, and I provided an hour-long presentation to new program directors regarding how the two organizations are working together to help program directors prepare the practitioners, educators, and researchers needed for the future, a vital capacity issue.
Brent Braveman, the Speaker of the Representative Assembly and a member of the Centennial Vision Commission, presented the Centennial Vision to the Program Directors and to the members of the Illinois State Association. The Program Directors have readily indicated their willingness to help with the Vision activities, many of whom have signed up to participate in advisory ad hoc committees to discern ways to link research, education, and practice.
I have two pieces of exciting news in the leadership arena. In January, AOTA will be hosting a “Leadership Development Institute” for 20 successful candidates who are state presidents. Additionally, AOTA, in collaboration with AOTF, will once again host a Leadership Mentoring Program; this next iteration will be designed specifically for Occupational Therapy Program Directors. Both these initiatives demonstrate our commitment to building our leadership capacity.
Recent developments in workers’ compensation programs have created an opportunity to promote occupational therapy in work and industry, one of the six Centennial Vision focus areas. Instigated by changes in California state law, AOTA’s forthcoming evidence-based guidelines on occupational therapy evaluation and intervention for conditions arising from work illnesses and injuries could have far-reaching effects on state workers’ compensation policies throughout the country. Our educators and researchers are working hard in developing and articulating the guidelines through critical appraisals of evidence-based literature.
Here is a way you can contribute directly to the Centennial Vision! We now need experienced practitioners, who currently work with clients who receive workers’ compensation, to complete the AOTA surveys of frequency and duration for upper-extremity and lower back conditions. You can access the surveys through the front page of the AOTA Web site, or request individual surveys to be sent to your e-mail address. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com, subject: WC survey invitation. Indicate whether you can complete the UE and/or Low Back surveys. In order to benefit the occupational therapy profession, I encourage you to advise your colleagues, whether AOTA members or not, to complete the surveys as well.
This fall has certainly turned out to be a whirlwind of activity...stay tuned as we continue our journey to the Centennial Vision.