Moving Forward: We Have the Vision, Now Let's Make It Happen

Florence Clark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

As I assume my new role as vice president of the American Occupational Therapy Association, I want to express my gratitude to the AOTA membership for its support and share my delight at being able to assume responsibility for overseeing the first phase of the implementation of our Centennial Vision. My sincere appreciation goes to Dr. Carolyn Baum, AOTA president, and Dr. Charles Christiansen, whose tireless efforts as vice president and whose leadership in formulating the Centennial Vision will be remembered in perpetuity.

Nothing excites me more than the challenge of making dreams become reality. I chose occupational therapy as my profession because I could enable my patients to secure the bright futures they thought were beyond them. Now, as your vice president, I am determined to demonstrate that the profession's Centennial Vision can indeed become a reality.

Although the profession has rallied to implement strategic visions in the past, this one has so much going for it that our success should be spectacular. First, it has emerged from thoughtful contemplation about what our world will be like in 2017. Second, it is based on our considerable knowledge of the drivers of change in the 21st century. Third, its development involved the input of thousands of stakeholders, including practitioners, scientists, students, and educators from our national and international communities. Finally, its timing couldn't be better because the services we deliver are needed more than ever to meet society's current and future needs.

The Centennial Vision is a roadmap that all of you have framed through your participation in surveys, discussions and deliberations. My job as vice president is to keep us on track with a laser-like focus on the essence of the Centennial Vision. We must now take concrete steps to pave the way for stunning success:

Maintain momentum in building and retaining membership.

Stay focused on Centennial Vision priorities and translating them into achievable goals that can be phased in year by year.

Vigilantly protect traditional practice areas through advocacy while seeking out new opportunities in accord with the Vision.

Reinvent aspects of occupational therapy in response to emerging societal needs while remaining true to our core values.

Mark progress in the public sector and create widespread public awareness of occupational therapy's importance for improving the quality of life for all.

This year will be my fourth year on the board and I am dazzled by what the profession has accomplished. In 2003, we needed to build professional unity—and now we have it. In 2003, we seldom considered the alignment of research, science, education, and practice—now we embrace it and recognize how it is essential for securing the profession's future ability to meet societal needs. In 2003, our various partners and stakeholders lacked the mechanisms and trust for positive interaction—now we have flourishing working partnerships. These accomplishments fortified a fully functioning infrastructure that can bring the Centennial Vision to fruition.

As we proceed, I believe we must heed Alfred North Whitehead's words: "The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order." I am committed to balancing these two forces. Our traditional practice arenas must be safeguarded as the profession expands. A new curriculum responsive to the emerging needs of society must be put in place, but it must be based on our time-honored curriculum and values. We must increase our advocacy in the policy and regulation worlds and add an inspiring public awareness campaign. We must nurture research, but focus on those programs that will provide evidence to guide professional practice.

With your support, I am confident we can embrace the concept of embroidering changes on stability—and together, we will realize our Centennial Vision.

Date of Origin: 6/26/06