Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Why OT Rex is an appropriate mascot for the OT Profession


This picture, and some similar to it, were widely passed around social media within the last year as an expression of the occupational therapy profession.  The picture is a play on the humorous limitations of T-Rex, and how adaptive equipment presumably supplied by an OT could help him with his 'reach.'

There have been discussions on social media sites about the divide between academia and clinical practice.  This is not a new debate but it has become more important as the profession discusses a possible switch to a doctoral degree for entry level practice.

One primary criticism is that that AOTA Ad Hoc group that came up with the recommendation was populated almost entirely by academics.  It is an undeniable reality, and underscores a problem with not properly consulting all stakeholders before publishing a position statement.

Unfortunately, constricted regard for feedback continues.  The AOTA Board of Directors announced that there would be opportunities for members to participate in the process and offer feedback.  One such opportunity was publication of the meeting schedule where the topic would be discussed.  There is a Joint Academic Leadership Council (ALC) and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC) meeting later this month.    This information has not been widely publicized, is buried deep on the AOTA website, and of course direct questions to share information about this meeting in the OT Connections forums have been ignored. I wrote this post and it has never been answered:

Dear AOTA BoD,
This opportunity for communication was created one month ago.  Given that this online forum is not an apparent opportunity for conversation and as there is no confirmation or acknowledgement of most of the questions asked other than the promise of future FAQs, I would like to ask for clarification on the meetings that are being held throughout the year and that are listed on this page: www.aota.org/.../OTD-Schedule.aspx
In the FAQs posted at www.aota.org/.../OTD-FAQs.aspx it states "We encourage members to participate in the meetings mentioned above, and we will be holding an open forum discussion on April 17 in Nashville, during AOTA’s 2015 Annual Conference and Expo."
There is very little detail about these meetings available.  For each meeting, can we please have the dates, times, and locations - specifically including the times that the OTD issue will be discussed - or are these entire meetings dedicated to discussing the OTD issue?  Additionally, I would like to know
1. Would you kindly provide an operational definition of "encourage members to participate in the meetings" so we can understand our opportunity?
2. Will there be a mic available for public comment?
3. What is the time limit for presenting information?
4. Are you accepting a written statement to accompany any oral testimony?
5. Do you require the written statement in advance?
6. Are you scheduling people for comment or is everyone simply showing up at the same time and having an opportunity to speak?
As the opportunities for participation are constricted given the available geographic locations, I am sure you can understand the need for as much advance planning as necessary in order to secure favorable flight and hotel rates.  This is particularly important for planning as substantial travel and expense may be required in order to participate in this process.
Thank you for providing this information as soon as possible.
Christopher J. Alterio, Dr.OT, OTR

I happened to find out about this meeting as a function of my part time status in academia.  It is unfortunate when a member of a professional association has questions ignored and the only way to gather information is by happenstance.

Well now I have found a copy of the meeting agenda, and I see that conversations about 'what practice will look like for an OT or OTA beyond 2017' will be discussed.  This is a pivotal issue in the debate about need for an entry level doctorate.

In true OT REX fashion, AOTA has constricted its reach with who is presenting.  They have chosen an AOTA Board Member, an ACOTE Board Member, and a member of the Ad Hoc Group that recommended the entry level doctorate.  That hardly seems like a panel that will stray far from the company line or that even represents the interests of street level practitioners.

Setting the agenda are the Chairs of the Academic Leadership group.  What follows is a parade of AOTA Board members and other academic leaders.  The one exception is that the Executive Director of NBCOT will speak for 30 minutes, who would seem to represent an outside stakeholder group.

What the AOTA BoD continues to fail to understand is that it should not continue to constrict this conversation to academics and people who are populating the halls of the AOTA and ACOTE boardrooms.

What practitioners need to know is that the reason why our profession has a reach like OT REX without his adaptive equipment is because our leadership is not interested in a real conversation - they are only interested in pushing a conclusion that they have all already reached a very long time ago.

If only OT Rex would remember its clinical skills and extend its reach a little - maybe it would be a little more unstoppable.


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