Advocate Or Be Replaced

This is an article from the American College of Sports Medicine on fitness trends expected to be sought after in 2013. The stated purpose is to assist their readership (Athletic Trainers, exercise physiologists, personal trainers, "fitness specialists" etc) in continuing profitable business. Here are the top 20 trends that they identified.

This list provides some things to think about. Here are a few that sprung to my mind.

#1: Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals: sounds like a no-brainer, right? No one wants to think that the person helping them in their fitness quest just walked out of a high school weightlifting class and is now using that as their entire knowledge base. But with a personal quest for certifications and increased legitimacy comes a professional quest for licensure in attempt to get a greater piece of the monetary pie. 

#8 Functional fitness: some of this is the Crossfit movement, and some is also code words for "daily activities." We OTs feel very protective of ADL however it is a phrase that is increasingly being inserted into practice acts for physical therapy or athletic training. 

#11 Worksite health promotion: There are great OTs who work in industrial settings, though this is still more of a niche or emerging practice area. One piece of wording that you may need to watch for is the term "industrial athletes" which may be applied to military or first responders (firefighters, police, EMT). This may affect whether those individuals would be referred to an OT work-hardening program or an athletic trainer.

#19 Reaching new markets: This makes sense for a business. There's only so much you can do with your current market, and to increase your business, you must bring in some new consumers. Outreach to new markets may include consumers who were not previously service users before, or it may include individuals who were using OT and try to replace that service with something else. There's only so much "insurance money pie" and everybody wants their slice. 

Pay attention to who is trying to get licensed in your state, and how they're defining their scope of practice. Does it properly encapsulate their training? Is it going to try to restrict your practice? You might be surprised.  I'll admit that I come across as paranoid and defensive, but it's much easier to start from that position and work toward a mutually beneficial middle ground than to assume that every other profession is out to play nice and that we should be nice too. Remember what AOTA President Florence Clark said: It's not playing nice- it's playing dead!

If something is happening in your state and you need assistance, contact the AOTA state affairs group. The staff is excellent at analyzing legislative issues and can help you in responding appropriately. Just one more reason you should be an AOTA member. Also, please consider donating to AOTPAC, they are the only people fighting for OT on a national level.


Tommy said...

Interesting post, normally in health the worry is that "activity nurses", physios, and etc will encorach on OT specialities but if fitness professionals are ignoring Zumba and getting in on the action too then there is a squeeze from both inside and out!

Cheryl said...

There are a wide range of professionals and paraprofessionals that have interest in overlapping with the OT scope of practice. This includes (but is in no way limited to) physical therapists, athletic trainers, behavioral analysts, aides, music therapists, recreational therapists, et al ad nauseum. It is my opinion that it is the best interest of the profession to defend first and assume the worst possible outcome, and then move together through legislation to protect all the professions and consumers.