April is a month for celebration. The ground begins to awaken from its deep winter slumber with spring bulbs pushing through, showing off their bright new flowers and foliage. The days are starting to be longer and brighter. Birds are making their nests to prepare for their first batch of eggs. People begin to emerge from inside to enjoy these spring moments, whether that's toiling away in their gardens, taking a walk in a park, going for a drive on a sunny day or cleaning the winter dust from their homes. Life in April seems a little more colorful.
AOTA’s slogan is “Living Life To Its Fullest” and April is the perfect month to represent and celebrate all that is occupational therapy. I believe that we all celebrate OT every day as we witness little miracles with our clients when therapy has helped them to achieve a goal. The patient who used a custom orthosis you fabricated to grip a shovel without pain to be able to work in their garden. Or after months of OT, a client was finally able to grip the steering wheel and go for a drive. In this way, we all celebrate OT every day and are continually inspired by the positive impacts this profession has on others.
While this last year has been difficult for all of us, I believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Not only am I inspired by my clients, but I am inspired by the future of our profession. Most recently, I have had the distinct honor of being part of the Duke University OTD program’s inaugural cohort (Fall 2021) application committee. From reading applications to interviewing, I was consistently amazed by the applicants. Many of the potential students identified both adversity and triumphs which ignited their desire to become OTs. People who have overcome homelessness, finding ways to live with chronic health conditions and those who have supported loved ones with different abilities. Applicants spoke about their dedication to service, social justice and supporting underserved or marginalized people through volunteerism. Many of the students spoke about the importance of diversity, inclusion and equality for all. But mostly they described how becoming an OT would allow them to improve the lives of others.
As a co-director of the Duke University’s Hand Therapy Fellowship program, I have had the honor of watching young OTs grow into future hand therapists. These fellows are extremely dedicated to advancing their skills and knowledge relating to hand therapy practice. I have witnessed each fellow begin at different points within their respective OT careers and watched each of them grow within a challenging niche area. Through 52 weeks of formal didactics, academic projects, testing, clinical mentorship and direct patient care, these fellows have dedicated upwards of fifty hours per week to learning material and preparing for clients. I am continually amazed at their dedication to both OT and their desire to master hand and upper extremity therapy practice.
The future is shining bright through the clients we serve, future OT students, young OT practitioners, and each of us who have continued to show up daily to serve others. I encourage everyone to continue to seek areas for personal growth and to continue to be inspired by and celebrate all that is occupational therapy.