April Challenge: Thank You Note to an OT in Your Life

OK, clearly I couldn't keep the challenge going for the full month. But this was one of the best ideas not yet written, and so I definitely want to include it.

We have a lot to be thankful for in life, and OT life is no different. Who first inspired you to be an OT? What teacher guided you from student to practitioner? Which coworker challenged you to become a better therapist? Many of us can think of a few people who have filled those roles for us.

You may also be a person who has been on the consumer side of occupational therapy. Did a practitioner assist you, a child, a parent or a friend in living life to the fullest? I think these are such strong stories, but sometimes the therapists don't even know that they are a part of them.

I would love for us to end our April Challenge by sending at least one thank you note to an OT in our lives. I know I am working on a note for a teacher who has been very supportive since graduation, and may need to make some others as well. Sometimes we can feel under-appreciated or as if we aren't making an impact... why not brighten someone's day by sending some OT thanks.


Come to my AOTA12 sessions!

Are you in Indianapolis? Then I hope to see you at my #AOTA12 sessions! Read through for details.

Session No.: SC 300
Session Title: (AOTA) Using Social Media Resources Effectively, Efficiently, and Ethically
Session Start and End Times: Saturday, April 28, 2012, 9:30 AM - Saturday, April 28, 2012, 11:00 AM

A panel of bloggers and social media experts will talk about how to integrate various social media platforms into your occupational therapy practice. There will be discussion on using AOTA's ethical guidelines for social media in daily life.

Our awesome panel features terrific bloggers who I hope you're following:
Christopher Alterio (ABC therapeutics)
Karen Dobyns (OT Students Belong)
Anita Hamilton (Virtual OT)
Erik Johnson (Army OT Guy)


Session Number: SC 314
Session Title: (AOTA) State Legislative and Regulatory Forum: Trends, Scope of Practice, Autism, and Health Care Reform
Session Start/End Time: Saturday, Apr 28, 2012, 1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

I will be a panelist discussing legislation in Maryland. This includes our Lobby Night event, working with a lobbyist and our bill review committee. We will also discuss the impact of Maryland budget legislation on OT board and licensure fees and how we were able to advocate.

Hopefully these will be informative to all in attendance and no one will be disappointed with content/delivery/my height/ etc. Saying that I am nervous might be putting it mildly, but hopefully it will all go well.


April Challenge: Spend 30 minutes on research

Occupational Therapy strives to be an evidence-based profession. But when we get caught up in the daily grind, it can be difficult to find and put into use the best evidence in our field. If you are only being exposed to evidence once or twice a year at continuing education courses, it's going to be difficult to have an evidence based practice.

Even though we often feel that we don't have enough time for (fill in the blank), there is a way to make time for things that you deem important. Instead of putting it off for another day, pledge to take 30 minutes today to research something important to your practice. This is the length of one treatment, one lunch, one TV show, two Facebook times. Just do it (just for today) and watch as the other important items will filter in around it.

This might be a time where you can catch up on articles that you have marked or printed out from journals and just not gotten around to reading. Maybe you’d like to start looking into a treatment or evaluation technique more in depth (serial casting? Pinch and grip strength? Handwriting speeds?).

There are multiple ways to access research at various points of the evidence ladder. The easiest is having a subscription to a journal (free to AOTA members) or search service (free when renewing NBCOT registration), but it’s certainly not the only way. If you work at a teaching institution, even prn, they should have access to some full text online libraries that are relevant to OT (and if they don't, you should advocate for something to be added). Many hospitals have libraries with actual staff members (so forgotten in our internet age) who may be able to order something for you via interlibrary loan. Some professional associations offer a subscription to an online search as a membership benefit. A membership in your university’s alumni association may carry access to their library. A search on google scholar may turn up an online journal with free access (such as the oft-used in my AOTA presentation Journal of Medical Internet Research).

While it doesn’t replace reading a full article and evaluating the evidence yourself, many blogs (Your Therapy Source, ABC Therapeutics) discuss articles when they appear and spark discussion regarding their findings. AOTA posts Evidence Briefs for members in a multitude of fields. Additionally, you can also find summaries of certain topics on OT Exchange, or search the forum discussions on OT Connections.

sticky note pad and pencil by jeremybennett - A pencil writing on a sticky note. Created for use as a

This is an important activity. You should be able to discuss your evaluation findings and treatment methods knowing that they are backed by current research. If you find a hole in the evidence, why not take an extra 2 minutes to shoot an email to a university OT program and suggest a study for their students to conduct? If you complete this activity, please briefly share in the comments what you were researching, an article you found, or any other pertinent information.


Unanticipated Blessings

I'm a firm believer that we cannot control our whole life and that things are orchestrated with a reason that we may or may not find out later. This is just a short reflection on how some things (that maybe didn't seem right at the time) have unanticipated blessings that we realize later.

My first job was fine for my first job. I had great friends who helped me learn and was forced to do things I didn't know I could. If another worker hadn't quit the day I accepted the job, I wouldn't have been involved in the pediatrics part of the clinic at all. I had absolutely NO intention of ever venturing out of my acute care box when I took that job, but felt compelled to due to staffing shortages. If I would not have done that, there would have been many kids who didn't get any OT, but I also would not have known that I actually liked working with kids. While I still preferred working on the adult side of the fence, it definitely planted a seed within me regarding the future.

We spent 2 years in Baltimore with massively long commutes so that I could work at a big place. I think that my husband was afraid that if we didn't try this out early in our lives, I would have a mid-life freak out and demand that we move to Chicago or Atlanta so that I could work somewhere demanding. Some days, when I was up til 10 doing notes for that day, it was hard to see the blessings. But they were there. I made some great friends. We had so many things close at our fingertips- great dining, great entertainment, easy access to DC/NY- and we took full advantage of that. One year, we went to 10 concerts, and there was a period when we went to a Broadway show (NY or traveling cast) once a month. Pretty freaking awesome. But the unanticipated blessing may have been finding out that though I identify a lot with my job (and have a blog about it, no less) I don't want it to be ALL I do. I needed more balance, and had to get off balance to realize it.

I usually get the flyer for the AOTA conference and if I am going, start planning the moment it arrives. I have schedules blocked off in 15 minute increments with first, second, and third choices for courses. I pack snacks and never leave the convention center. It becomes an over-planned activity and thus there are many ways for things to go wrong, and I always wind up exhausted. This is my first year presenting, and in being wrapped up with my presentation groups, I have not given any thought to the rest of the conference. I know that I have a flight and a hotel, otherwise, I haven't looked into it. Part of this is that I know I can easily meet the hours I need to renew my license. (by my purely unofficial estimate based off previous years, you can get 24 hours if you bust it, but get 16 without too much effort) And though it seems counter-intuitive, the lack of planning has made me less stressed. I'm not worried about the little things, because the big things seem more appropriate to worry about. And since a large part of the big things is dependent on others, I'm trusting that they'll take care of what needs to happen, so I'm trying not to worry about that either. Taking on extra work and responsibility has brought me less worry time! that is a good unexpected blessing.

Can you think of a blessing that you never saw coming based on the events? Feel free to share.


Photo Phriday- more questions than answers

OK, so the stress of the challenge is getting to me a little bit. Just a little of that, combined with the fun and yet stressful NBCOT trip, and the upcoming AOTA presentations, doing my job, and trying to ensure an employment future. Yep, just a little stressful. So here's some of the cooler tangentially OT related pictures I've taken lately.

I'm going to start with a shout out and an unpaid product endorsement. When I first saw the RediSpace paper, I wasn't floored by it. But since trying it out with several kids with spacing issues, I have seen a lot of improvement. It doesn't work for everyone (what does?) but the teachers love it and it's very affordable compared to other specialty papers.

I see people talking about doing finger knitting or all out knitting as a fine motor exercise and I have tried these things for pre-shoe tying. On the left is an overhand knot around a pencil, the way that you make friendship bracelets. On the right is a series of loops pulled through one another. I have yet to find the kid who can do this, though I know I spent much of my childhood doing both.

Why do OTs have to take advanced maths and physics? So you can decipher the manuals for your tests. This is from the Adult version of the DTVP. It's been a long time since I used the word "bisect."

I hate this alignment error. What's worse, this is located at a place where you are often waiting a long time to turn, so then you stare at it extra long.

What are these things? we have a whole barrel full of each red and blue.
Someone suggested that they are meant as pencil grips. Others said it was just for developing pincer grasp. They look just ridiculous enough for me to enjoy. Until I figure out exactly what they are for, I know how I can use them-- iPad gloves! I saw someone had made them on pinterest, and here is an item with premade holes- it will work and save time.


April Challenge: give a satisfaction survey

Obviously, you want all your clients to have good outcomes (and not just good, but spectacular when possible!). That is easily measured during reassessments. But another factor is becoming increasingly more recognized in the medical world- client satisfaction.

Hospital reimbursement is starting to change in relation to how satisfied patients are with their care. Some workers are angry because "now I don't just have to do my job, I have to hold their hand the whole way" and some of the initiatives that hospitals go through can seem corny, over the top, or pointless. Generally, it seems like when therapists (OT, PT, SLP) go through these trainings, they aren't learning many new things because they were already asking the patients if there was anything they could do to make the day better.

In the hospital, we had our Press-Ganey survey ratings talked about everywhere. Some departments posted these results so that you would know how to improve, or how awesome you were doing. But if you work in a different environment, you may not have anyone else conducting a satisfaction survey for you. It's not difficult to create your own. You should want to know... even if your clients get the best outcomes in the world, if they're not satisfied with you or your clinic, they won't recommend your practice in the future. Or they'll say something like, "She's a good therapist, BUT (she's always running late/the clinic is a mess/it's really hard to schedule an appointment/ etc).

A quick google search will show you what some other therapists and clinics are using, I'm not going to publish them because I'm not sure how public they want them to be or what the copyrights are (and clearly I'm running late so there's no time to investigate). I thought that Tonya at Therapy Fun Zone had a pediatric satisfaction survey, but maybe it was Your Therapy Source... either way I can't seem to find it right now. If you have a survey you don't mind sharing, please link to it in the comments.


April Challenge: Sign up for COOL

I'm really glad that it's Web Wednesday and that we have a nice easy challenge for today lined up, because I am rather jet lagged. Today's challenge should take all of 7 minutes to complete, so I really would urge you to follow through with this! Today, you should be COOL!

If you haven't heard, COOL is AOTA's volunteer database that you can sign up for online. COOL stands for "Coordinated Online Opportunities for Leadership" and lets you identify your areas of expertise and interest. Then you can enter how much time you could be available for. AOTA staff and SIS chairs can then access this information to find fresh new volunteers for their projects.

I think that COOL is a good thing for several reasons. First off, when you are young in the profession, you don't know a lot of people. When you talk with the people who have achieved various positions of leadership, they always say that they got started by knowing someone who invited them to do something little first, and then over time they took on more responsibility until they achieved their current position of awesomeness. But it seems insurmountable when you don't know many people. And I remember being very frustrated because I had time and interest to give, and no way to give it. (I still get this way sometimes, but not often). So COOL allows you to get connected before you make those personal connections.

Another of the benefits to COOL is that having a wider pool of volunteers means that no one gets overused and burned out. Also, you can get introduced to opportunities that you would not have thought of before. This isn't signing up for a lifetime commitment, just offering to be potentially available in the future.

One of the COOL things that I got to participate in was review submissions for this year's AOTA conference. It was simple and done all online, but it was kind of fun to get to feel like I was a part of making conference happen. Have you done a COOL job? Are you willing to sign up? It will take you a lot less time to sign up than to read this whole post, that's for sure!


April Challenge: Offer to speak at a career day

Spring is here, and it is oft the time of career fairs around the area. Representing OT at a career fair is a great service to students and the profession.

OT is a profession growing "much faster than average" per the Bureau of Labor Statistics which makes it an attractive profession for students- it's very nice to know you can get a job after you graduate. At the same time, it is important to increase our work force- our scope of practice is broad, and if OTs cannot fill the need, someone else will. Therefore, the recruitment (and later training) of effective practitioners should be considered the personal business of every OT and OTA.

So today, put forth a little effort into looking for a local career fair. Many middle and high schools offer these in addition to community colleges. If this does not pan out, many teachers are willing to give you a short portion of class time to discuss a relevant career. Girl Scout troops are also a great group to reach out to, since many of the badges and journeys require a career connection.
Developing a presentation shouldn’t be difficult, it's just a time to enthusiastically share some of the numerous possibilities that a life in OT can have. I always try to emphasize the multiple entry points into the profession, give a description of practice in common areas (hospital, school, clinic), and talk briefly about some developing areas of practice (driving, low vision, home mods). You can do a full presentation in 15 minutes and who knows… maybe you’ll be the one who sparks the initial interest of a future master clinician, researcher, or AOTA president. At the very least, you're helping OT to become more widely recognized, which is its own benefit.

Presentation by lmproulx -


April Challenge: Reflect on a favorite occupation

As OTs know, an occupation is not your job, but anything you do to fill your time. Everyone’s daily life is made up of hundreds of occupations of varying importance to them. Today’s challenge task is to take a moment to reflect on an occupation that is one of your favorites.

Some people love cooking or driving or gardening. It doesn’t matter for the purposes of this exercise, any valued occupation will do. This is a time to reflect on what impact the occupation has on you. Feel free to answer some of the following guide questions:

-How long have you been engaged in this occupation?

-Was there ever a time when you stopped performing this occupation? Why did you return to it?

-What benefits (tangible and intangible) do you derive from this occupation?

-Does this occupation impact your life as an OT practitioner?

-How would your participation change if you were affected by a change in your physical or cognitive abilities?

By taking a moment to reflect on something personal and important to you, it is my hope that you will have a renewed respect for your clients this week as they work to recover former occupations or develop new ones. It is an arduous process (which is why there is no “Rehab” reality show) and it demands an empathetic and effective practitioner to facilitate.


April Challenge: answer a question

Today is an easy lazy Saturday kind of day. The easy OT task that goes along with it is to answer a simple question. Hopefully you're already a member of OT Connections. If so, why not take a few moments to scan through the Active topics, General forum, or your favorite forum to find an unanswered question? Often times, just pointing someone in the right direction with an accurate link can be all the help needed.

An active forum is the best kind. This brief participation will keep your forum active and probably inspire more responses and new topics. Share your thread in the comments if you think we'd enjoy participating in it too!

I've seen a trend with students asking very detailed questions on this forum. I think this is a good time to touch on the etiquette for those asking questions.
- Don't thread-jack: if someone has posted a topic titled "Environmental Control Units" don't jump in with your detailed question about home modifications or iPad apps. Make your own topic.
- Don't overwhelm: sometimes I see people post huge paragraph questions that they have been given to interview an OT in a specific field. this is too much for most people to want to choose to respond to in an impersonal setting.
-Don't cheat: if you were given a case study in class, it's a class assignment that you need to develop clinical reasoning to solve. Don't expect a practitioner to take your case study and develop goals and a treatment plan.
- Get personal: if you have long questions, my best suggestion is to find someone on a forum who is active and appears to be knowledgeable in the topic you're looking for. Then send them a personal message or email asking if you can send them longer questions.


April Challenge: Write a letter to a Doctor

Is it just me (and it really might be) but do you know a lot of doctors? Maybe you are a super good marketing person and know all the local docs, maybe you have lived in the same town and always known the doctors, or maybe you’re like me and realize one day that a startling percentage of your classmates/roommates/friends have decided to go to medical school. These acquaintances can be beneficial, and not just when you want to avoid making a real appointment.

In our current environment, the doctor is often the gateway (direct or indirect) to occupational therapy services. Even when legislation for direct access exists, many practitioners still prefer a prescription for services for safety or insurance reasons. Other times, a person may not realize that occupational therapy could help their ailment and it comes up during a PCP visit. So it is advantageous to make sure that doctors that you know are fully aware of what you do.

This can be difficult since many OTs are not “toot your own horn” kind of people. But a letter to a doctor, and especially one who is a friend, doesn’t need to come off in that way. It can provide information about how your practice can benefit their client population. People (even doctor people) are not always aware of what all an OT can do, and if you can make the information relevant to the person’s life or practice, it will be remembered. (See: Elevator Speech)

The other reason that this can be difficult is because there can be a fear of rejection. I was part of a homeless outreach group organized by community medicine students when I was in college. Medical students (literally occupying the SAME building as the OT/PT programs) said that they had been told the therapies were “soft sciences” and to be avoided if possible. (?!?!) Where did this come from? I still don’t know, but it had to be corrected. No one wants to risk not looking like a fully awesome expert, but you can’t allow a belief like that to go unquestioned.

So take the time to send a short note to some of your doctor friends, tell them about OT month and the greatness you provide. Use some of the great resources of the world- facebook, text, or communicate in whatever method you feel most comfortable. If you know their specialty and want to be supercool, figure out when their special celebratory week or month is so you can send a nice message then too.

This is something that I have put off for a long time but pledged to do as part of the challenge. So Joanna, Justin, Brent, Tom, Aunt Vick- watch your inboxes, the magic of OT is coming. :)


April Challenge: make a new handout

How old are your patient/parent handouts? Were they written on a typewriter? Are they mimeographs? Do they have big black splotches from the year of the bad copier? It's time to upgrade!

Today's challenge is to make a new patient/parent handout. It's possible that nothing has changed in the whole world and all the information on your handout is still relevant. But you've probably been to courses and gotten new insights into things, your surgeons have been upgrading their techniques, adaptive equipment has changed in price and new research has changed the treatment protocol. So pick one handout and try to give it a makeover.

Your "makeover" might include printing on letterhead, adding graphics or pictures, or checking to make sure that the reading level is one that will be accessible to your clients. A 6th grade reading level was recommended when I was in school, MS Word has a tool for this and there are online scripts to check as well. Another update you might perform could be making copies of your handouts in Spanish (this will probably need to be run by an office in the facility to check for accuracy).

There are great Fact Sheets on OT provided free by AOTA which cover a multitude of settings and case populations. I liked to give these out in the clinic when people came in for an evaluation so that they would have a good idea of what to expect. Super Duper Publications also has a great number of handouts for those that work in pediatrics.

If you create a great handout, consider sharing it through an OT forum or online through Google Docs. Here's a link to my Homemade Adaptive Equipment handout with computer translated Spanish, and a link to my Heavy Work handout. Leave a comment if you have something to share!


April Challenge: Educate through sweets

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." is it possible that you can also access a person's brain through tasty treats? Worth a try!

It is OT Month and we should be doing all we can to educate the public on occupational therapy. Of course, you have to do other things as well (like your job) so you can't just stand in a public place and shout the goodness of OT. But you can entrust this all day shouting to a universally beloved object- the bowl of candy!

Place some tasty treats in a breakroom and use these to attract the eager learners to OT literature which you have so nicely placed nearby. I think if you have those little clips that hold photos, they can stand up out of the dish holding examples. If you have a short relevant definition of OT on a business card, it becomes a memorable outreach to the group. You can even use this wallet guide (free!) from AOTA. All told, this should take 5 minutes to set up and can be a lasting centerpiece for the rest of the day.


April Challenge: email a legislator

For this edition of Web Wednesday, I invite you to send a brief email to a legislator. Advocacy is an incredibly necessary part of practice, and one part of that is simply cultivating relationships. So take today to reach out to a state legislator, congressperson, or senator.

Visit AOTA's Legislative Action Center to find your federal representatives and get quick contact information. This page will also give you a brief update on any relevant OT issues before the house and senate. States should have a link to individual representatives, if you live in Maryland, click here to find your state delegates and senators.

If you don't have a specific outreach topic, you can still send a note as a constituent to alert them to your profession and general concerns. Remember, you are an OT expert! If you have concerns that your clients have brought up (e.g. limited access to therapy visits) you can mention that as well. One of the best effects of our state Lobby Night has been the relationships that are developed between local therapists and their representatives. This can be maintained through emails or visits when they are back in their home office. A short moment to reach out may prove very helpful to you later.

Action tips during a congressional (or state legislator) recess
Tips for Writing to a Legislator


April Challenge: Write a unique goal

In the spirit of change as we started yesterday, today is a time to do something new within your evaluation. It's time to write a new, unique goal.

Obviously, it's best practice to be developing goals with your client. But between the daily time crunch, client indecision/deferment, and a similarity between clients, sometimes the basic goals can start to look alike. I know that my hospital orthopedic patients frequently had goals for lower body dressing, adaptive equipment use, toilet transfer, tub/shower transfer, and simple meal prep. With my higher level individuals I would try to include additional items such as simulated pet care to try to make their care plan more personal.

But I don't really remember those goals with pride. I remember with pride the time that I worked with a young woman with cerebral palsy who had just had a c-section and was having significant problems caring for herself and her child. That was a day I used my clinical reasoning and worked to make someone's life definitively better.

So take today and write a unique goal for a client, to make it something personally valuable and relevant. If you do this every day, kudos! If you take this challenge, share a unique goal in the comments below.


April Challenge: change 1 thing

I apologize that I did not write down my citation here, but hopefully the thought will count. Some time ago, I read a post by another blogger (maybe you?) who I believe had attended the Autism West conference. The author was talking about a presentation by Winnie Dunn where she had said to "Change one thing with one person." What a concept.

I feel like when I go to a conference, I come back bursting with new ideas and things to try and whole new schools of thought to try to enact. Sometimes, by being weighed down by the enormity of the things that could be changed, it's hard to take any action at all. If we do that (i.e. nothing) then what was the point of spending hundreds of dollars on the new course or the time spent reading that article? And then starts the sneaky guilt spiral... which gets me nowhere.

So... deep breath... Abandon the glorious hopes of all the possible changes you could make to your clinic, your treatments, your mindset. You don't need to forget about it forever, but maybe just make a note for another time. Instead, take today and make ONE change with ONE person. Maybe this will be showing that struggling intervention student some new strategies in a 1:1 session. A time to sneak in an extra question/measurement/test into your evaluation. A friendly hello to a person you clash with too often. ONE change is doable, and may lead to a larger change in the future.

If you completed this challenge, share your ONE change in the comments below. It doesn't need to be ground-breaking to be celebrated.


April Challenge: Record a favorite moment as an OT

Today is a day for reflection in general, but if you have a moment to spare for OT, do it in this manner.

Today's challenge is not much of a challenge for most bloggers, since they are probably doing this anyway. And the intent of this is not to make everyone start a blog or in-depth diary of their practice. But everyone has down days where they wonder why they do the things they do... and that is why you should take time to record an "up" moment to remind yourself.

I'm very thankful of some of the things I wrote down in my blog in years past (back in the days where I posted about twice as much, ha!) since it's so easy in the day-in day-out world to forget the awesome moments that have transpired. It's also why I try to save notes and cards and drawings when I get them.

Off the top of my head, it's hard to recall all the best times. I remember a family who was very grateful for a detailed discussion of torticollis after their child's birth. I remember that people were often thrilled to have adaptive equipment following a surgery. I remember having a man with a serious brain injury navigate the cafeteria despite the bedlam. And recently it was really nice learning to make a ribbon bow with a child who was ecstatic over his sister's birth, and wanted to make her a present.

Diary by sheikh_tuhin -

We should celebrate our favorite moments and strive to create more. Please share one of your favorite times in the comments below.


April Challenge: Sign up for OT Connections

Are you down with OTC? (yeah you know me!) If you haven't signed up for OT Connections, here's why you should.

There are so few places that are really OT-places. If you want those places to be fruitful and useful, it does take some investment. Not lots of time, but a little.

AOTA rolled out OT Connections (or OTC from here on out, b/c abbrevs r my frnd) a couple years ago. This site combines the old listservs into forums, allowed for the flexibility to form groups, and incorporated a social networking feature with blogs, uploaded files, and friends. Best part- it's free! Anyone can access the basic forums, AOTA members have access to SIS forums and extra forums such as the great RA debates.

There's great stuff on OTC, but it could be better with more involvement. And the first step is just committing to sign up. AOTA members don't even need to set up an account, their existing account information will be the login.

A few quick OTC tips:
-Receive updates to your forums by email (a'la listserv)
-Or you can sign up with an RSS reader and get updates that way (to any post or forum)
-Bookmark the Active Topics to quickly see what people are talking about all over
-Be relevant with your posts. If your post doesn't match the board topic at all, you won't get a lot of responses. If you have a question for a specific person, just message that person directly.

So try it out. I think a weekly check provides a lot of interesting topics to think about. Let me know what you think.


April Challenge: Place OT lit in a public place

This is a pretty easy, yet effective method of outreach to spread the word about OT.
Chances are, you may have a waiting room at your place of employment. People are looking for something to read besides that copy of Newsweek from 1996. Why not take in some old copies of OT Practice that show some awesome examples of OT in action? This trick can also work at the doctor's office or multidisciplinary lunchroom- provide the reading material and expose the public to OT one little step at a time.

AOTA provides the consumer tip sheets and role of OT fact sheets for free to members- this can help you tailor your efforts appropriately.

If you're feeling a bit more ambitious, I will share the project a PT at my first job had started. She had taken a binder and put some labels regarding gross motor development, fine motor development, speech and oral motor... you get the picture. Then we would place interesting articles in the various sections, to give the parents of our pediatric clients something relevant to read during sessions they weren't observing.


April Challenge: revamp your elevator speech

Wasn't this an assignment we all had back in the days of OT school? "Tell me your definition of OT." Know why it was an assignment? Because you have to do it all the time. And it's very rare that someone wants the half hour discussion on all the things that OTs can do, have ever done, or will do in the future.

Sometimes the elevator speech needs to be changed. I had a great elevator speech for working in the hospital, but switching practice areas meant that other things had to change too. Sometimes you can find yourself becoming bored with your normal vocal patter ("now that the sock is on the device, we're going to go fishing for your foot" brings back the shudder of the Too Many Sock Aids Days).

AOTA has provided us with a great free tool- the Brand. It's easy to start any conversation with "I help people live life to the fullest." It is memorable and catchy- people will want to know more. That is where you can provide some examples about your particular practice area, or a tidbit that will be interesting to your listener.

My old, hospital based elevator speech went something like this: "I help people on all the floors live life to the fullest. OTs work with infants having difficulty feeding, children recovering from burn accidents, middle aged adults after joint replacement or other surgery, and the elderly following strokes, heart attacks, or chronic hospitalization. My goal is for people to be as safe and independent as possible, preferably in their own homes."

There's no way to encompass all the scope of wonder that OT is in a 2-minute drill, but the key is to provide a memorable statement that applies to your audience and hints at the scope of practice.

Please feel free to share your OT definition or elevator speech in the comments below!


April Challenge: Send a WFOT Ecard

In case your wallet took a hit buying OT gear to wear and supporting advocacy efforts, you'll be happy to know that today's challenge is FREE! ;)

Each Wednesday this month will be a "Web Wednesday" and feature an online challenge.

WFOT (the World Federation of Occupational Therapists) has graciously provided free e-cards that provide positive messages regarding OT. Take 30 seconds and send a positive message about OT to a friend, family member, or colleague today.


April Challenge: Set aside some money for advocacy

I know some people will probably groan at this title, but this is a very important topic. Read on for more info.

Advocacy is an essential part of OT practice. It ensures that OT remains a relevant, covered service for the various populations we serve. It is best practice to advocate for the goodwill of your clients, supporting measures that enhance a specific community or your area as a whole. Everyone can be an advocate and needs to be taking action on a regular basis. We'll touch more on this later.

Some people hold the view that individuals don't need to advocate because AOTA is taking care of that. Obviously, if you read the previous paragraph, you know that I don't agree with the first half of that statement. So let's talk about AOTA's role in advocacy.

AOTA employs excellent lobbyists and policy analysts. These individuals work very hard at a state and national level to monitor legislation that is introduced, analyze potential impact to OTs, and take action to promote our interests. Seriously, these people are awesome at what they do, and I have worked with them numerous times at a state level.

They don't work for free.

(And money from your AOTA membership cannot be used for political action. It's a law.)

This is why you must contribute to AOTPAC. Only the political action committee can use funds to advocate for OT at this level. These funds also support the online tools linked above that allow for practitioners to keep up to date on the issues, and support occupational therapists who are running for any elected office (from school board to POTUS). If you have any doubts about AOTPAC, I would encourage you to talk to Paul Fontana, who gives one of the most engaging talks on the importance of advocacy and support.

As my one teacher said, no one expects you to spend all your time meeting with the legislators, but you should financially support those that do. And a donation does not have to be epic to be purposeful. I challenge you to take this month and set aside a small amount every Tuesday. By skipping one latte or lunch out each week, $5 is easy to save. If you eat dinner out multiple times each week, cutting back once can save you $25. I challenge every reader to save $20-$100 this month, and donate it to AOTPAC.

Let's make it happen!


April Challenge: Wear OT Gear!

Yay! Let's start this OT Month Challenge off right!

It's Monday, there's only so much effort we can exert. But let's kick it off with a bang. Make sure everyone knows that it's OT Month by wearing some OT gear today. Everyone has a few (or a dozen) OT related t-shirts at the house... I know my mom loves to buy them for me :)

Polos are professional and cheap- you'd be surprised how inexpensive you can get a custom embroidered shirt at a local place. Also if you're looking for an understated touch, OT earrings can be found on ebay and etsy, and if you renewed with NBCOT you'd have a nice lapel pin also.

Buttons definitely attract attention- stick a few of these on your backpack or jacket to catch an eye or two.

What's your favorite "Proud of OT" outfit? the best slogan on a shirt? Show it off in the comments below.

Photo My outfit today, OT polo and earrings.


Introducing- The OT Month Challenge!

I am so excited to announce my special April feature- The OT Month Challenge!! click through to read more!

After 5 years, I feel like I am usually a good OT. There are moments where I am a great OT. And I dream of someday being a superb OT. Don't we all want to be a bit better? Better students, better practitioners? I hope so.

In pursuit of better-ness, I decided to set out this month-long challenge. Every day will have a post and a concrete way to make a change in your OT life. Almost everything will be a small but meaningful task you can easily undertake in a quest for improvement, with a couple of larger items thrown in.

April is a very busy, sometimes stressful month. I don't want anyone to stress about the tasks or completing them on a set date (including me!). But if you want to write about your experience with a specific challenge in the comments section and spread the OT-awesomeness, then you can participate in a giveaway!

I will take the post date (1-30) combined with the comment number (01-99 haha) to create new numbers. From those numbers, random winner(s) will be drawn for awesome OT related prize(s)! I will mail objects to North America (& APO) addresses, and mail standard envelopes to other countries (in exchange for a postcard to add to my collection). So please comment and please have that comment linked to an actual email or website so I can get hold of you. And remember that the comment policy absolutely forbids advertisements (especially to fake universities) or spam- so don't do that.

So I hope that you enjoy the challenges as much as I have, and grow in OT with me this month. Here we go!