AOTA President Florence Clark opened the 2011 AOTA Conference with an excellent presidential address describing the need for OTs to compete.
(Photo credit to Cheryl Crow, videographer extraordinaire, from the OT Connections Gallery)
We live in a world of competition. Especially now, in a time of health care reform where decisions are being made about what services are necessary in the future, we as occupational therapy practitioners need to be engaging competition with (not against) others to ensure our role in promoting occupational fulfillment to the public. Competition needs to be acknowledged. It drives innovation and can improve practice. It's not going away, so get comfortable with it. Victories are won often by teamwork, but always by competition. But, as Dr. Clark said, "let's face it- we're nice." OT attracts people who are cooperative and kind. But if you let others take OT for granted, "it's not playing nice, it's playing dead!"
"HD OT" requires power, and we as a profession need to embrace our collective power. We can't stand alone, but together, we have a power that can't be ignored. As a group, we are witnesses to the "transformative power of occupation" and this must be shared with the public! The public mindset is shifting toward wellness and participation, which is a foundation concept to OT. One example is the case of Congresswoman Giffords. Per Dr. Clark, it was not so much of a question of 'would she walk again?' but one of 'would she run again- for Congress?' People are concerned with the ability to fulfill a role- one of the things that makes life worth living!
Dr. Clark drew some analogies to Rocky, who demonstrates caring and competitiveness, sensitivity and toughness. We have to be "in the ring" during the healthcare debates. We have to bring our "playbook." That includes evidence on our effectiveness, increased grants, decreased hospital readmissions and documentation. Our documentation should not over-emphasize motor-based components, but embrace our multifaceted approach dedicated to the whole person, environment, and occupation. We need to be intensely involved in advocacy to make the message heard- that Occupational Therapy helps people LIVE LIFT TO ITS FULLEST!
A recurring theme of President Clark's address was to strive for "arete," an ancient Greek concept referring to excellence, effectiveness, fulfillment. We each need to strive for everyday excellence in our work, with our clients, and how we represent ourselves. Fire up your competitive juices!
Dr. Clark's message goes hand in hand with 2 other excellent sessions I attended and will share at a later date. I hope that the call to "arete" resonates with you.