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Occupational therapy: The mouse that roared about degree escalation and credential inflation

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It is easy for occupational therapy practitioners who have been embroiled in the intraprofessional debate about entry level credentials to lose sight of a larger perspective.  Sometimes the closer you are to a concern, the more challenging it is to understand the more broad ramifications of something that happened.

The grass roots effort that pushed against a mandated escalation of the entry level degrees in the occupational therapy profession made a very broad social and cultural statement.  It was a historic example of a professional group that argued against some of its own leadership in an effort that ultimately serves the more broad public interest.  It was an amazing testimonial to the nature of occupational therapy practitioners, their common sense and pragmatism, and their interest in fairness, diversity, and inclusion on many levels.  The effort highlighted the very best of the occupational therapy profession, even if it was a contentious and at times divisive argument.

Stud…

An analysis of how small changes can potentially lead to unintended consequences in a motion

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An analysis of the recent motion to update policy E.6 Entry Level Education is offered for consideration.

Please refer to the following for background information:

A Motion to Update Policy E.6 Entry-Level Education of Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants

and also AOTA's claim to authority over entry level degree requirements


ROADMAP FOR UNDERSTANDING THE ISSUE:

To understand the problems with the wording changes you need to read and understand the first policy as it is written in the policy manual.  Then you have to read and understand the motion that was submitted to update.  Then you have to read and understand what the RA actually passed.  All of this has to be considered in context of an unknown relationship between AOTA and ACOTE.  There is no way to dive into the weeds of this issue without reading all of the materials.  There is simply no way to condense it.

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The original policy E.6 states



The motion that was submitted to update the policy use…

What will happen to the Wilma West Library and archives of the occupational therapy profession?

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During the last year, minutes from the Board meetings of the American Occupational Therapy Association indicate that there has been discussion on two matters that have an important impact on the Wilma West Library, home of the collected resources that catalog the history of occupational therapy.

Around last year, discussion apparently started getting more specific related to sale of AOTA's current building.  In May 2018 the board authorized the (re)allocation of funds necessary to pay off the mortgage on the building and exploration of new sites for the organization's operations.  It is unclear if a new location has been identified, but in the recent February 2019 meeting a current board member will provide consultation regarding redesign and build out of the new space, indicating that the process is moving forward.

Also noted in the February 2019 minutes is that AOTA will take sole responsibility and ownership for the Wilma West Library, excluding graduate theses and dissert…

Degree escalation and doctoral education are sinking the occupational therapy profession

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Occupational therapy started on a simple premise - that man, through the use of his hands as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health.  That statement was provided to the profession by Mary Reilly, our greatest theoretician.

It is a simple concept, borne out of a core philosophy of pragmatism and infused with a dose of all the good intentions of the moral treatment movement.  If you carefully read that core philosophy of occupational therapy you will hear the Emersonian reverberations of self-reliance: 'Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.'  That is what occupational therapy seeks to nurture in the spirit of people: Independence, harmony with the self, harmony with nature, and a satisfaction in authentic work and effort and purpose and meaning.


Occupational therapy is a concept that was designed to create solutions for the problems of living - and was field tested in the settlement house projects of Chicago and Bos…

The primary driver for degree escalation in occupational therapy is to solve poor curriculum design of master's level programs

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Perhaps the greatest point of misinformation that is routinely spread when academicians discuss the 'need' for escalating the entry level degree to the doctoral level is that master's level OT programs can vary between 80 and 100 credit hours, depending on the school.  This is not a factual statement.

 There are some OT schools that are configured in a 4+1 or 3+2 model and the number of graduate credits is only around 30-40.  In these schools, the bulk of the occupational therapy curriculum is delivered at the undergraduate level.

Throughout the conversation, I have heard educators and practitioners both attempt to get AOTA and ACOTE to acknowledge that not all educational programs are experiencing the same kind of 'credit pressure.'  People use different terms to describe this concern; most explain it in terms that some programs are requiring more credits than are necessary or perhaps even typical for granting a masters degree.

It is true that some programs…

The ongoing occupational therapy identity crisis: 2019 edition

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What does it say about a group of professionals that can't agree on what titles to use to describe themselves?

Several years ago I wrote a post entitled "Why students will be making elevator speeches to define occupational therapy for the next 100 years."  The issue behind this is that some occupational therapists believe that the public does not recognize what the profession does and that it is important to have a handy 1 minute description.  The post describes the fact that the profession serially re-defines occupational therapy and that the constant tinkering with definitions contributes to the confusion.

The problem that some people in the occupational therapy profession have with their self-identity now extends to the title that they want to use to represent themselves and whether or not they want to even use the national credentials that they have earned and that have given them the right to apply for state licensing.

One point of genesis of this problem is with s…

A sad prediction that is coming true for occupational therapy assistants

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Last year I wrote several blog posts about the devastating advocacy position taken by AOTA to remove the Medicare therapy caps that caused a 'paygo' impact on services provided by occupational therapy assistants.

In short, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 lifted the Medicare therapy caps and was 'paid for' by an agreement that OTA services under Medicare Part B would have to be paid at 85% of the standard rate whenever that therapy was delivered in whole or in part by an OTA.

Professional lobbyists and policy analysts at AOTA were surprised by this 'last minute' inclusion of a payment differential even though the House Rules Committee clearly included this language in the document summary that was sent to the CBO for scoring prior to the legislation being passed.  As a result of their inattention, no one was alerted to this dangerous language, no one could advocate against it, and OTA practice was severely damaged.  It was a colossal and inexcusable policy an…