Awards Frequently Asked Questions

1. Must I, as the nominator, be a member of AOTA?

Yes, all nominators must be current members of AOTA.

2. Does the person I am nominating for an award need to be a member of AOTA?

Yes, except for individuals who are submitted for the Health Advocate Award or the Certificate of Appreciation.

3. Do you need to have earned a doctorate to get nominated for a Fellow?

No, you need to be an occupational therapist and a current member of AOTA; have made a significant contribution to the profession; be considered to be well-rounded; and have meaningful occupational therapy and other relevant involvement at the local, state, and/or national levels.

4. I’ve heard that you need to be an educator to get nominated for a Fellow, and that only someone who has earned the Fellow can nominate another person for a Fellow.

Educators, practitioners, researchers—all are eligible to be nominated for the award. Any AOTA member can nominate an occupational therapist for the Roster of Fellows by filling out the nomination form and documenting the requested communication activity, volunteer service they have contributed to the profession, and a written narrative.

5. Can I use one nomination form for several people?

No, each nominee needs his or her own nomination form in order for the committee to capture the full scope of each person’s individual experiences and contributions.

6. The nomination form is very involved. What do I need to include, and what should I do if I want to surprise the nominee?

The AOTA awards are meant to recognize those members of the Association who have excelled in their contributions—the cream of the crop. The nomination should reflect contributions throughout the nominee’s career. It is very difficult to thoroughly document all the things someone has done without their input for information. If you are not going to get your information from the nominee directly, find some way of getting records that will detail his or her accomplishments and activities.

The nomination form is divided into sections, with directions as to what should be included. The “Communication” section would have all written (books, chapters, articles, newsletter, funded grants) and oral (workshops, in-services) contributions. Include dates and times as requested, grant amounts awarded (the person should be the principal or co-investigator), and list a presentation after it has been done multiple times.

The “Leadership Participation & Engagement” section would include all volunteer participation in OT and non-OT health care related organizations. This can be AOTA, the state or local OT association, the state mental health board, Parkinson’s Association, etc. The camera club, church choir, and local rose society don’t usually get counted. If, however, the narrative supports how your involvement in the rose society led to a community effort to start a therapeutic garden at the local children’s hospital, it would be considered in the nomination. You should not include involvement required or expected as part of your job (e.g., a faculty selection committee at the university or a quality improvement committee at the hospital). Include dates and length of service, write the title of the position and the name of the organization (describe the type of organization if not readily apparent by name), and mark the position column (officer such as president, vice president, executive board or committee chair, committee member).

7. Why are we asked to write a narrative? My nominee is very well known and needs no introduction.

Members of the Volunteer Leadership Development Committee (VLDC) may or may not have heard of a nominee. In order to be fair to all nominations, the nomination form includes a written narrative that describes the unique impact of the nominee’s contributions on the profession. The narrative reflects the “7 word statement” and tells the committee the essence of why the nominee is deserving of the award. An award for “outstanding contributions to students and fieldwork” would be expected to describe how the nominee’s efforts advanced occupational therapy education and fieldwork in the profession in a unique manner, above and beyond what others may do routinely. Only evidence that is written can be considered, so it is important that the narrative is thorough and thoughtful.

8. My “7 Word Statement” is over seven words. Is that okay?

No. The instructions indicate that the essence of the nominee’s contributions should be captured in seven words or less.

9. I’ve heard that if you send in several nominations for the nominee, it reinforces that many people think they deserve the award.

Additional nominations for a person and letters of support are not considered. It would be better to have the multiple nominators work together for a stronger nomination and narrative.

10. If I have a question about the nomination process, do I call AOTA?

Please contact with any questions.

11. How many awards are given out for each category?

The Award of Merit, Occupational Therapy Assistant Award of Excellence, Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship, Lindy Boggs Award, Gary Kielhofner Emerging Leader Award, and Outstanding Mentor Award are limited to one recipient. The remaining awards can have as many recipients as there are qualified nominees.

12. My nominee did not get the award. What should I do if I want to nominate him or her again?A member of the VLDC will review the nomination with you to give feedback for re-submitting the nomination another year.

13. My nominee for Award of Excellence/Award of Merit (or other one-per-year award) was certainly qualified. Why wasn’t he/she selected?

Often there are multiple qualified and deserving nominees for these awards. The committee works each year to select the most deserving nominee. A member of the VLDC will review the nomination with you to give feedback for re-submitting the nomination another year.

14. What is the appeals process if my nominee doesn’t get an award?

The award process is based on specific criteria and is dependent upon what the nominee has accomplished and the strength of the information the nominator submits in writing. The process allows for a wide variety of practice accomplishments and contributions with each award. Due to the nature and spirit of the award process, there is no appeals process. A member of the VLDC will review the nomination with you to give feedback for re-submitting the nomination another year.

15. May I nominate myself?

Yes, you may nominate yourself for AOTA awards. If you do your own nomination, you may still want others to review your nomination and narrative to be sure you have best described your accomplishments and contributions.

16. What is the Recognition of Achievement award?

The Recognition of Achievement award is given to occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants who have made significant contributions in a single or focused area. This may be the best award level for a member who has accomplishments primarily in one area.

Updated 7/15/13