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State of the OT union
Friday February 15, 2013


On this Presidents Day, our nation’s heads of state aren’t the only leaders worthy of recognition. Since the founding of occupational therapy close to a century ago, the field has had its share of elected officials to unite and steer the profession forward. Here are some thoughts from 10 of occupational therapy’s recent presidents:

"Occupational therapists around the world make amazing contributions to the health and well-being of their citizens and communities. Our socio-ecological perspective bridges the interactions of persons with disability and their environment. Our holistic perspective recognizes the social determinants of health as critical factors contributing to activity limitations and the barriers of participation for all our clients. Many of the people we serve have only short-term limitations, and occupational therapy interventions can decrease their risk of secondary disability."
— E. Sharon Brintnell, Dip P & OT, BOT, MSc FCAOT, CDMP, president, World Federation of Occupational Therapists, January 2013

"Occupational therapy is a science-based profession that serves people across the lifespan. We focus on the individual’s performance needs by developing a customized individual approach to improve the person’s independent functional skills. … Without occupational therapy inclusion in healthcare reform, Iowans will experience further restrictions to access of our essential holistic patient-centered care throughout their lives. Occupational therapy adds years to people’s lives, as well as life to their years."
— Peggy Parker, OTR/L, MHCA, president, Iowa Occupational Therapy Association, December 2012

"The [Kentucky Occupational Therapy Association] should and shall have a leadership role in the healthcare delivery system. Through active policymaking in legislation, we shall promote occupational therapy in healthcare reform and the Kentucky Essential Health Benefits Plan. KOTA shall promote public awareness to create a widespread understanding of and the importance of occupational therapy in order to strengthen our role in the community. KOTA shall strengthen the link between our association and occupational therapy education programs in Kentucky."
— Dale E. Lynn, OTR/L, president, Kentucky Occupational Therapy Association, October 2012

"What worries me at this point is what happens when these wounded warriors leave Walter Reed and join civilian society? Is America ready to embrace them? And what can each of us do through our occupational therapy professional skills to enable them to live life to its fullest? This is the very minimum they deserve for having put their lives on the line for all of us."
— Florence Clark, OTR/L, PhD, FAOTA, president, American Occupational Therapy Association, August 2012

"The magnitude of the commitment the Board is making to more political awareness and action on the state level does not in any way limit or conflict with the commitment of [the Rhode Island Occupational Therapy Association] to provide continuing education opportunities and special interest section meetings on a regular basis. … Help us to show the decision-makers that occupational therapists are aware of what is at stake. Your enthusiasm, ideas, financial support and physical presence are crucial to our success."
— Kim M. Gilbert, OTR/L, president, Rhode Island Occupational Therapy Association, 2012

"As an occupational therapy educator and practitioner, I am dedicated to the fidelity of bringing scientific knowledge to my clients via practice and policy implementation. My position is to emphasise advocacy to achieve the delicate balance between scientific knowledge, clinical expertise and family values. It is this balance that facilitates the use of relevant evidence and the application to practice and policies that need to be driven by client and family perspectives."
— Kurt Hubbard, OTR/L, OTD, PhD, president, Florida Occupational Therapy Association, July 2011

"I think occupational therapy is one of those best kept secrets. … I think that occupational therapy is sometimes seen as a caretaking profession like nursing, and men traditionally have not been drawn especially to caretaking professions. … I’m aware of a number of men that work in industrial rehabilitation. An occupational therapist can play a role evaluating that worker’s capability of returning to the workplace."
— Shawn Phipps, OTR/L, PhD, FAOTA, president, Occupational Therapy Association of California, January 2010

"Occupational therapy assistants have held a crucial role since their inception 50 years ago by providing direct services to millions of patients and clients, contributing to intervention teams, educating students, and promoting the value of our profession. … Your perspective as an occupational therapy assistant is needed and encouraged in our leadership and governance bodies, such as the Board of Directors, Representative Assembly, Special Interest Sections, ACOTE, Commission on Practice, Commission on Education, Ethics Commission and many other bodies of the association."
— Penelope Moyers Cleveland, OTR/L, EdD, BCMH, FAOTA, former president, AOTA, April 2009

"We helped [Blue Cross Blue Shield] write the guidelines of what services we provided by sitting down with them and explaining different scenarios — why this diagnosis would require occupational therapy and why this one wouldn’t. We now have a resource in them."
— Virginia Tully, OTR, former president, Occupational Therapy Association of Hawaii, September 2008

"Consider your goals in stages, identify mentors who can help you identify additional schooling or training that you will need, and think about what kind of a position you need to consider to get there. Also identify the enablers that will help you achieve your goal and the barriers that will need to be overcome. This is a very important process because we must be able to imagine possibilities if we are to create them. The future is constructed by people who know what they want to do and then roll up their sleeves to do it."
— M. Carolyn Baum, OTR/L, PhD, FAOTA, former president, AOTA, April 2007

Natasha Emmons is editor of Today in OT.

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Friday February 15, 2013
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