OT Resources for Students & Professionals: An Interactive Infographic!

OT Resources Header

Are you an OT student or practitioner looking to improve your practice, increase your success, and give back to the profession of occupational therapy?

If so, check out my new interactive OT Resources infographic! In it, you’ll find information about:

  • OT scholarships
  • Research and grant writing
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Getting involved with policy, legislation, and advocacy
  • Improving your practice skills
  • Student leadership opportunities
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Advanced certifications
  • Understanding OT’s scope of practice

…and much, much more! So click on the image or the Resources tab above and check it out, and please share with your peers, coworkers, and friends in OT!

All About the Assembly of Student Delegates: My Experience at the ASD Annual Meeting

ASD Experience
Me and the new friends I made at the AOTA ASD Annual Meeting in 2015! This awesome group of ladies helped set the tone for my awesome conference experience.

As I mentioned in this post, I was fortunate enough to attend the 2015 ASD Annual Meeting during the AOTA Annual Conference in Nashville this year as a delegate for my OT program. If you’re wondering about what the Assembly of Student Delegates is, I’ll refer you to their page on the AOTA website for the most concise, up-to-date information. However, the ASD’s purpose and goals are outlined in the following excerpt:

“The Assembly of Student Delegates provides a mechanism for the expression of student concerns, and offers a means whereby students can have effective input into AOTA affairs. The mission of the Assembly of Student Delegates is to support student members of AOTA by communicating their interests and advancing their professional contributions. This Assembly upholds the AOTA mission, promotes Association membership, and provides a forum for the development of student leadership and political awareness to enhance the viability of the profession.” (AOTA, 2015)

Last year when I volunteered at the Baltimore conference, and this past year, I searched for information about the ASD and couldn’t find much about what actually happened at the meeting. The presentation slides were posted, and social media accounts had photos, but beyond that I couldn’t find much. Hopefully this post will help shed a little light on what goes on, and inform future delegates about what they can expect.

This post is a bit long, but so was the meeting! In it, I’ll cover topics such as

  • Delegate responsibilities
  • Meeting structure and content
  • Speakers
  • Major takeaways

Read on to learn all about my experience as an ASD Delegate!

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All About the Assembly of Student Delegates: Six Tips for New ASD Delegates

6 Tips

Greetings from Music City! The AOTA Conference officially starts tomorrow, on April 16, but I had the honor of being selected as one of my program’s AOTA Assembly of Student Delegates (ASD) delegates for the 2015-16 school year, and I just got out of the 2015 ASD meeting. It started at 8 and ended at 5:30, so I’m pretty exhausted at the moment. However, it was truly an amazing event, and this post is the first in my “All About the ASD” series inspired by my #AOTA15 experience. Throughout the meeting, many of the delegates were wondering exactly what they should do with their amazing newfound power all of the exciting information, news, and updates! There are only a few official duties expected of delegates (which I’ll describe in an upcoming post), but there are so many more things you can do to make the most of this experience both for yourself and for the students and programs you represent. After conversing with several other student delegates and reflecting on what I learned, here are six suggestions I have for students who – like me – are new to their role as an ASD delegate or Steering Committee Member:

  1. Determine your goals. What do you want to get out of being an ASD delegate? What can you do for others as an ASD delegate? When the whirlwind of Conference eventually dies down, I encourage you to take a moment and make a list of goals and priorities you have for yourself, for your program, or for ASD or AOTA as a whole. Being a delegate provides a unique opportunity for you to network with our professional leaders (both students and practitioners), benefit from their knowledge, and use that knowledge to benefit others. It also gives you a great opportunity to hone your talents and skills, and taking time to decide how this opportunity can support your personal and professional goals will help you decide how best to move forward.
  2. KISS (Keep It Simple, Student!). The ASD meeting was long. VERY long. And it was also very informative! However, trying to cram a whole day’s worth of information into a presentation for your classmates during finals time (aka the end of April after Conference) isn’t an effective way to share what you learned. Decide what the four or five main points are from the discussion and make a 10-15 minute presentation (complete with calls to action and links to information) that your classmates can benefit from immediately. For example, discuss the upcoming spring scholarship deadlines and resources for students headed out to summer fieldwork instead of the fall 2015 ASD Elections or Student Conclave.
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Although you are responsible for being aware of what is happening within the profession, you don’t have to go far to find this information. Use “ready-made resources” like the OT Student Pulse newsletters, social media outlets, and AOTA emails to help inform your presentations to classmates about what’s going on. If you haven’t already, consider creating an “AOTA” or “ASD” folder in your email inbox to help keep track of important information and updates as they arrive.
  4. Think ahead. As an ASD delegate, you have the opportunity to be the first line of information for your peers when they have questions about ongoing professional events, especially regarding student-specific programming. Take a minute to jot down or type up a rough outline of the dates and deadlines for events like the Student Conclave or ASD Elections, and update it as necessary. By preparing this now, you can have a resource to provide for your classmates for the present and the upcoming year, as well as having a rough outline of the more time-sensitive topics you should focus on as you disseminate information to your peers, SOTA, or program throughout your term as a delegate.
  5. Keep the fire burning! If you’re anything like me, attending this meeting was just the push you needed to finish the school year strong and remember just why it is that you chose to join this amazing profession! When you get back from Conference, take the time to use what you learned and apply it to your life – don’t wait! If you heard about a volunteer opportunity that’s right up your alley, apply NOW! If you can’t wait to begin crafting your campaign for next year’s ASD Steering Committee, get going on a cool slogan and platform. And if you were inspired to jump start your personal or professional development, begin organizing your applications for the various programs you learned about (i.e. the COOL Database or the Emerging Leaders Development Program).
  6. Continue the dialogue. Just because the meeting is over doesn’t mean the conversation is! After I asked a question at the ASD Town Hall meeting earlier today, new ASD Steering Committee president Joseph Ungco found me (while I was writing this blog post, lol) and followed up with my thoughts. He asked me what I hoped to accomplish as a delegate, and encouraged me to continue talking about my ideas and passions with fellow ASD members, ASD Steering Committee members, and AOTA leaders both online and in person. His advice was fantastic, and I hope you’ll continue to talk with your classmates about what they would like to see from ASD, to contribute to social media and in-person discussions about ASD, and to add your own ideas to the mix!

I hope you have a fantastic #AOTA15 experience, and I’ll be back again soon with more info about the 2015 Assembly of Student Delegates meeting!

AOTA Conference Countdown: First-Time Attendee Guide – What to Do Before, During, & After Conference to Have the Best Time Ever!

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.

Me at AOTA Conference 2014 in Baltimore! Maybe this year I’ll get a picture with a guitar! 😀

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!

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VideOT: Voting in the 2015 AOTA Elections

Although it may be a little late in the game for this post, I wanted to help spread the word and encourage everyone out there to vote in the 2015 AOTA elections! The deadline to vote is February 25, 2015, so don’t let it pass you by!

However you may feel about the different issues facing the profession, one thing is certain – your vote is your voice, and it’s important to be heard by the profession’s future leaders! Taking the time to learn about the candidates’ positions and plans for the profession is crucial because the decisions we make today may impact our profession for years to come.

In her most recent Rehab Potential video, blogger Sarah Lyon at OT Potential describes just how quick, simple, and important it is to vote and “help our [clients] by strengthening our national organization”! In less than two minutes, she eases potential fears about tackling a lengthy ballot, demonstrates some pretty legit networking skills, and directs you to the informative interviews she did with current candidates. And before you say “Oh no, all of this voting stuff will just take too much time…,” she also notes that it took her less than 1.5 minutes to vote. Everybody’s got time for that!

Sarah also did a great job of interviewing candidates from two of the key races (Director to the Board of Directors and Assembly of Student Delegates) and outlining their positions on various issues in very brief, easily digestible blog posts. Although the candidate blurbs available on the AOTA website are also helpful, I feel like her interviews provide more information about topics the candidates weren’t able to fit into such brief statements. You can check out her interviews and the candidates HERE!

Sarah is similar to me in that we both started blogging because the information available online about occupational therapy was very limited, and we apparently wanted to change that! I’ve been reading her blog for a while, and she is definitely somebody who’s knowledgeable and passionate about our profession. One of my goals for this year was to interview some occupational therapists, and reading her posts is giving me the encouragement I need to overcome my nerves and just reach out! She also has several other great posts about being a “mentorable” practitioner and ways to get inspired about OT that you should also check out – AFTER you’ve finished voting, of course! 😀

Gotta Be OT’s Goals for 2015

2015 Goals
These are just a few of the personal and professional goals I hope to achieve in the new year!

Ever since I was accepted to OT school, I’ve kept a list of personal and professional goals that I hope to achieve during my time in school and afterward. Some of the goals are small, and I’ve already made them happen. Some of them will require help from others, and I’m still working on making them happen! Still others are somewhere in the middle, and it’s just a matter of me working up the courage to do what I want to do. 😀

My point in saying this is that I really believe that having these goals at hand and being able to cross them off as I complete them has really helped keep me going and heading for the light at the end of the tunnel during what has at times been a really rough year! I love being an OT student, but that doesn’t mean that every minute of it is great. And on days when I was really struggling to find the point in reading another 40 pages of neuroscience text or putting together yet another group project, I took solace in pulling my list of goals up on the computer and looking at the bigger picture.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but I believe in goal-setting for sure! Maybe it’s because I was always destined to be an OT, but I’ve always felt that setting specific long- and short-term goals is the best way to go about making permanent and meaningful change, as opposed to simply making huge, high-pressure resolutions. For example, for a person who was trying to quit smoking, making goals like “I will smoke only one pack of cigarettes per week” or “I will not smoke at family or social functions” seems much more doable than simply making a blanket resolution like “I will give up smoking in 2015.” The aforementioned goals have the advantage of being smaller, more manageable, and more measurable than the big, broad resolution. Additionally, once you accomplish several smaller goals, it can give you the motivation and momentum you need to accomplish your ultimate goal – for example, helping ensure that the profession’s Centennial Vision comes to pass and that “occupational therapy is a powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society’s occupational needs” in 2017 and beyond!

As for me, I still have a ton of goals on my list that I hope to achieve in 2015. I created my current list on May 29, 2014, and I’ve been working at it ever since! Here are a few of the things I have yet to do and want to accomplish in 2015:

  • Attend two extracurricular conferences
  • Attend 2015 AOTA Conference in Nashville, TN
  • Represent my program during the Assembly of Student Delegates
  • Help update school SOTA web page
  • Invite and host at least one speaker
  • Reach 100 blog posts
  • Bellydance in the AOTA National Conference talent show

Like I said, some are big and some are small and some will require me to make myself more than a little uncomfortable! However, whether I accomplish all of them or not, just seeing the progress I make – and the new goals I add – in the future is going to be a great adventure!

Happy New Year, and I hope 2015 brings you closer to achieving any goals or resolutions you’ve made!