This post is part of my Conference Countdown series. Check out the other posts about missing classes for conference, networking, and planning your itinerary! You can also read my posts from the 2014 AOTA Conference in Baltimore HERE and HERE to learn more about the conference experience.
Last year was my first year attending an AOTA conference, and it was easily the highlight of my not-yet-started life as an OT! I went by myself as a volunteer, but I met and talked to so many cool people it was like I was there with a bunch of old friends! Still, going for the first time was a little intimidating, so I’ve written a guide for people who are going that haven’t been before and may not be sure what to do or expect!
This post includes information about:
What to wear
What to bring
How to prepare
Which events and sessions to attend
Linking conference happenings to your classroom or workplace
How to make the most of your conference experience after returning home
There’s advice for students and practitioners, and I hope you find it helpful!
Last week I was reading the January issue of AOTA’s OT Practice magazine when I came across a little “Social Media Spotlight” shout-out about the wonderful OT Miss Awesomeness. It focused on an insightful blog post she wrote in December describing how although it may look like an OT is not doing much with a client during a therapy session, in reality he or she is thinking about a million things related to the client’s function.
As Miss Awesomeness describes in her post – and as AOTA describes in a cool infographic they made after she published the post! – the OT is not just relaxing as a client is cooking or doing another task. He or she is performing functional analysis and observing the environment, context, and client to determine where or if there is a breakdown that causes the client to be unsuccessful in their attempts to engage in the occupation.
In her blog post, Miss Awesomeness used the example of a therapist who was observing a client making tea. During the session, he discovered that although his elderly client was able to lift four pound weights during their therapy sessions, this ability did not translate into functionality during the cooking activity. Although the woman was able to lift the weights, she was not able to lift the heavy bag of sugar from an overhead cabinet in the kitchen with one hand (the scenario in which she would be accessing the sugar in her home). For me, this was an important post to read because it helped me better understand the skill and value of what occupational therapists do while working with their clients.
It was a great, well-written post, and a great example of how an OT (or OT student, as the case may be!) should always keep functionality in mind when working with clients or planning sessions. If a therapist fails to consider the context in which a client performs an occupation, he or she risks providing unhelpful interventions that will not support the client’s successful return to everyday living. It would be like an athletic trainer working with a person to help him learn how to mountain bike on a heavily wooded trail by using a stationary bike in the gym! Although there are some similarities between the two scenarios, it would make much more sense for the trainer to observe the client in the trail setting and make recommendations based on how they performed there, right?
As I continue to complete my Fieldwork I and see more therapists at work, I can apply knowledge like this to what I am seeing. Although I am always trying to consider how the different tools in an OT’s tool belt are used for treatment, I will also keep in mind the importance of using these tools in a setting and context that is most helpful for the client!
It’s another Monday, but it’s not just any Monday – it’s the Monday before World OT Day 2014! This World OT Day, there are going to be so many amazing events around the world, and in this blog post I’m giving you lots of information about the event itself, this year’s global OT virtual exchange, the WFOT and how YOU can get involved!
What is World OT Day?
“World Occupational Therapy Day is the opportunity to heighten the visibility of the profession’s development work and to promote the activities of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) locally, nationally, and internationally.” (Google)
It’s also a great time to spread the word at your college, among your colleagues and in the community about the amazing work that occupational therapists do! Not that you shouldn’t be doing that every day, but you know what I mean. 😀
What is the World Federation of Occupational Therapists?
In case you didn’t know, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Conference is happening next week in Baltimore, Maryland! When I found out about it several months ago, I applied to become a volunteer for this year’s conference. After a month-long wait, I was elated to open my email and find my volunteer assignment waiting for me!
I have never attended a major professional conference before, and I am looking forward to the chance to attend this important event and see what’s happening in the wide world of occupational therapy. I’ll be volunteering at the Hospitality Booth and as a Room Monitor, and then I’ll earn free access to the Expo on Friday. It’s going to be a great trip to Charm City, I’m sure!
While I’m in Baltimore, I have several goals. First, I would like to meet one of my OT role models and the person whose job I’d like to take — Captain Erik Johnson, who also goes by “Army OT Guy.” I’m so excited about the opportunity to meet and network with him, but I can’t imagine what I would even say to somebody like him. I think I might like to work with wounded warriors and veterans in the future, and his website, videos and news articles have been a constant source of inspiration to me. In case you’re interested, here’s the link to his website: http://armyotguy.com/armyOTguy.com/Welcome.html. Ultimately, I would like for him to schedule a visit to my graduate program sometime in the next year or so. He goes “on tour” and travels around the country visiting OT programs and talking to students about his experiences and expertise and I would love the opportunity to hear from him!
Next, I want to start networking with the students, faculty and alumni of the graduate program I will be attending. Because I tend to be overexcited and can never wait for anything, I wrote and asked if I could attend some of events my future classmates and professor would be attending — and they said yes! Clearly they don’t mind that their program has just accepted a super-creeper… O__O In any case, I think it will be great to hang out with some of the first and second-year students and see the impact people in my program are making in the field.
Finally, I just want to take this time off from school to relax! My final semester has been a very hectic one, and I’m glad for this mini-vacation to help break up the last semester until I graduate. A couple days at Conference and hanging out in Baltimore will be just what I need to get recharged and ready to finish my senior year strong!
I’ll be posting next week about my experiences in Baltimore and at the Conference, so stay tuned!