Jan 6 / Kimberly Breeden, Occupational Therapist, Coach, Continuing Education Instructor

How Everyday Practitioners Can Promote Occupational Therapy’s Distinct Value

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There are a lot of conversations right now centered around OT practitioner's concerns that our profession is not recognized or valued. I agree and believe there are a lot of factors that impact this, enough to blog about for several years (that is foreshadowing just to prepare you).  
Within those conversations, there is a lot of talk about concerns regarding duplication of services with physical therapy or other disciplines that has resulted in other disciplines providing services historically provided by occupational therapy. I think this is definitely an area that OT practitioners not only should be aware of, but also thinking about how to respond. No matter how you think this problem should be addressed, one of the most important parts of any solution will be promoting occupational therapy.
Oftentimes we try to promote the value of OT by trying to demonstrate our effectiveness in providing services that other disciplines are equally qualified to provide. In my experience, the most effective way to promote the value of occupational therapy is to explain what services only OT practitioners are trained to provide or why other disciplines may not be as qualified to provide certain services
Niccole and I have dedicated our careers to empowering other occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants and occupational therapy students to be more satisfied in their jobs, provide best practice services, and to promote the value of occupational therapy. We feel that this process is centered around celebrating the unique perspective and training of occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. 
Promoting the value of occupational therapy is similar to the process Niccole and I use in all of our efforts for Aspire OT, in that OT practitioners work to explain the unique perspective and training provided within the profession of occupational therapy. In my opinion, this can be most effectively achieved when occupational therapy practitioners can demonstrate how our services are different and distinct from other disciplines such as that of physical therapy, speech therapy and nursing.  
Our national and state associations work to advocate for occupational therapy to be recognized within reimbursement guidelines, policy, legislation, and guidelines for healthcare. When we support our associations, we support these efforts. 
However, I have found an overlooked avenue for advocacy and promotion of occupational therapy and the concern for duplication of services is the everyday practice of each and every occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistant, and even that of occupational therapy students.  
In other words, if I am looking at myself and my role in promoting OT, my everyday practice can advocate for occupational therapy services. How I deliver my services, document my services, and explain my services to prescribing providers, my colleagues, my organization, and my clients can be a powerful and effective way to impact how occupational therapy is viewed.  
If my clients find my services valuable, they will tell their physicians, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, their family, their friends, and maybe even their insurance provider.
If my colleagues from other disciplines see the value of my services, how those services are different than theirs, and most importantly, how my services can compliment their services, those colleagues will recommend occupational therapy services to clients, to prescribing providers, and to the organization we work for.
If the prescribing providers can identify how my occupational therapy services helped their patients maintain wellness, reduce adverse events, maintain quality of life, and comply with their treatment regimens, the prescribing providers will order more OT services.
If the organization I work for sees how the occupational therapy services I provide can improve the organization's outcomes, quality measures and decrease overall utilization of services, the organization will hire more occupational therapy practitioners. 
Our value is not in how we are similar to other professions, our value is in how we are so wonderfully different. 
This is why Aspire OT was created. This is the motive behind every course we create, every webinar we host, and every blog we write. This is why we created our State Association Partnership Program. This is why we developed a program for coaching other OT practitioners. We understand that OT is a distinct and powerful profession. We understand that our services can change lives for the better. We believe that OT practitioners should be celebrated and recognized for their valuable contributions to the clients, teams, and organizations in which we serve. And we believe that this can only happen when we recognize what makes us so different, so wonderful, so effective, and so needed!  
In light of us beginning a new year, it seemed fitting to reflect on our mission and to set the tone for the new year. I hope that you find excitement and purpose in these words as I know that I did. 
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