Beyond the Centennial: Envisioning Occupational Therapy in 2025

Stephanie Yamkovenko

With the centennial quickly approaching in 2017, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is deep into preparing to create a new vision for the profession. AOTA has been busy laying the foundation for the past year, which included project planning, interviews with association and industry leaders, surveying thousands of members, and focus groups at Annual Conference.

Small group participants in the AOTA Vision 2025 SummitIn October, nearly 80 participants gathered for the culminating event, the AOTA 2025 Visioning Summit, to work together on developing the pillars of the 2025 Vision. The group consisted of occupational therapy clinicians, educators, scientists, industry leaders, and AOTA volunteer leaders and staff. 

The participants varied in their levels of experience, practice settings, and perspectives. The group synthesized the information and feedback from the surveys and focus groups and participated in small- and large-group discussions about the changing nature of health care, the country’s demographics, and the future of the profession.

Jay Younger, our facilitator and a managing partner and chief consultant from McKinley Advisors, helped frame the discussion by highlighting some trends and forces that will affect health care and the profession. One thing that Younger said we’re pretty certain about is that the demand for occupational therapy practitioners will continue to increase through 2025. But OT will need to be able to align with increased focus on cost, quality, and outcomes in health care delivery.

On the first day of the summit, small group participants discussed the need for faster knowledge translation and continuing to prepare a new generation of leaders in the profession, as well as the themes of quality improvement, systems change, and population health. The small groups also discussed how far the profession has come since the Centennial Vision was created, and what it should look like in 2025.

Small group participants in the AOTA Vision 2025 SummitOn the beginning of the second day, Younger challenged participants to consider what force, factor, or condition makes them most uncomfortable. The follow up question was to list one strength inherent in occupational therapy that gives hope that the profession can address the challenge.

Participants shared a variety of concerns—technology, knowledge gaps, taking risks outside of traditional reimbursement models, being able to understand new payment models and systems. But they were hopeful that the profession’s adaptability, ability to solve real life problems, critical thinking, focus on the person as a whole, and ability to articulate our distinct value would help overcome those challenges.

At the end of the second day, the small groups discussed ideas for helping occupational therapy practitioners and students connect with the new vision and how to make our message resonate with those outside of the profession.

The summit did not conclude with a draft vision for 2025. Instead, the summit provided direction and options to move forward. A small group of summit participants will vet three possible vision statements based on the work of the Summit. AOTA members will then have the opportunity to review and provide feedback. AOTA’s Vision 2025 will be rolled out officially at AOTA’s 2016 Annual Conference & Expo in April.

Stephanie Yamkovenko is AOTA’s digital editor.

View all photos from the summit on Flickr.