Centennial Vision Journal Entry
By Penny Moyers, EdD, OTR/L, BCMH, FAOTA
I am sitting here on the balcony of a rented condominium at Orange Beach, Alabama, overlooking the beautiful Gulf coast and attending the Alabama Occupational Therapy Association (ALOTA) fall conference, where more than 180 occupational therapy practitioners gathered to hear scientific papers, to network, and to just enjoy the beach, sun, and the Alabama football game. Laurel Radley (AOTA staff) and myself were there to represent AOTA and, of course, I was busy gaining my CEUs for my own license as well.
At this conference, there was a nice balance of occupations for learning, fun, social participation, and relaxation. I realize how lucky I am to have been with such interesting professionals who have exciting new knowledge and experiences to share. The students from all the universities (4 OT programs and 1 OTA program) met to conduct a forum to build camaraderie during which their discussion centered partially on the AOTA Centennial Vision. They brainstormed about how they plan to enact the Centennial Vision because the work being done now is about their future careers, and they believe it is vitally important that they become a part of the process.
It became clear to them that the Vision could be enacted through a range of simple to complex activities, such as having clear and compelling ways to describe the profession to everyone with whom they come in contact and taking on significant volunteer activities within their communities and their professional associations. They want to invite experts to hold live chats with them through the ALOTA Web site so they can work on their preparedness for future practice. The ideas were just pouring out and were given to the President of the Alabama Occupational Therapy Association, Valley McCurry, where under her leadership the Board members are focusing on how to retain these enthusiastic students as members of ALOTA and AOTA.
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Before going to the beach, I was in Seattle, Washington at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to attend the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) Board of Governors’ meeting. AOTA is continuing to work with NAHB and AARP to further discuss projects related to aging in place and livable communities. We plan to have a follow-up meeting of the three organizations prior to the AOTA Board meeting during the first week of October.
Photo caption: Faculty and co-chairs of the Student OT Association join Penny Moyers after the AOTA Town Hall at the University of Puget Sound.
While in Seattle, Elizabeth Kanny, Program Director of the University of Washington, and George Tomlin, Program Director of the University of Puget Sound, arranged for Karen Smith (AOTA staff) and me to conduct Town Hall meetings at their respective universities. Both meetings were full to capacity of practitioners, faculty, and students anxious to hear about the Vision and how they might become involved.
Elizabeth e-mailed me after I was home to tell me the faculty members are using the Vision to analyze and further develop their curriculum; and George is willing to share a model of how he brings fieldwork supervisors, students, and faculty together for a yearly evidence-based practice symposium.
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Fred Somers, AOTA’s Executive Director and Maureen Peterson, our Chief Professional Affairs Officer, have been busy as well! They represented AOTA at the dedication of Walter Reed's new Military Advanced Training Center (MATC), designed to bring together the multidisciplinary team that cares for “warriors in transition.” The prominent speakers widely praised the contributions of occupational therapy to the successful recovery of soldiers participating in rehabilitation.
Additionally, Fred and Maureen, along with Ruth Ann Watkins, AOTF’s President, as well as Martha Kirkland and Mindy Hecker from AOTF, attended the closing meeting of a “leadership mentoring” program, which was jointly sponsored by both organizations to support 18 aspiring occupational therapy leaders in the academic arena. The AOTA/AOTF Leadership Mentoring Program is based on Mentoring Circles®, an innovative group method developed by the Mentoring Company where the “academic leadership fellows” were introduced to contemporary leadership theory and practice, and were engaged in leadership assessment and development.
Fred and Maureen tell me they were privileged to participate in several conversations with this group of leaders and to listen to the individual “leadership” plans of the Fellows, all of which was a truly inspiring and extraordinary experience! This program is an example of how we are building capacity through leadership development.
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I am soon off to Wyoming and then to Arizona for more fantastic state association conference experiences. Although the travel schedule is hectic, it is so important to meet with the grass roots and enable each occupational therapy practitioner and student to endorse the Vision, so that the momentum will lead us to our dreams in 2017.