OT Month: Reflections on Resilience & Insights from AOTA INSPIRE 2024

Posted by Lauren Ashley Wlazelek, MS, OTR/L, CHT 03/28/2024

Happy Occupational Therapy Month!

April is always an exciting time of the year. The days get longer and the weather gets warmer. Animals emerge from winter hibernation and flowers begin to bloom. All of this symbolizes growth and new life. Similarly, I have a feeling of rejuvenation this April after returning from the recent American Occupational Therapy Association National Conference in Orlando, Florida. We can all relate to returning from conferences both motivated and inspired. My professional cup is very much full after a week of education, inspiration and connectivity. Both the keynote speaker, Simon T. Bailey, and our current AOTA president, Alyson Stover, graced the audience with inspirational words empowering generations of occupational therapists, from new graduates to those with over 50 years of experience.

When I reflect back on the growth of the profession over the past 50 years, one word comes to mind: resilience. Both Simon and Alyson had resounding themes of resilience in their addresses, and sited many examples of how we display this quality through our profession daily. Despite working as an OT everyday, I don’t always reflect on the growth of our profession. As OTs, our profession emerged when treating the soldiers after the World War, and we continue to provide skilled care to our warriors at Walter Reed through the use of therapeutic self and cutting-edge AI technology.

The presidential address sited many new advances in our profession. Occupational therapy is making strides and pushing horizons by establishing a presence in the domain of pelvic health. It was incredible to see the success stories already. Another victory is the introduction of new CPT codes allowing our services to be billed without the patient present, enabling us to expand our reach to telehealth and family education. The OT compact now has 40 states, allowing OTs to practice in multi states when licensed in one. This promotes OT outreach to remote areas which would otherwise not be able to obtain services, another achievement pushing our profession forward.

The achievement of all these accomplishments has required the resilience of OTs united. As Simon stated, “Life is like surfing in an ocean. Your resilience allows you to get back on the surfboard, and your brilliance allows you to catch a wave.” As OTs, I hope that we continue to demonstrate resilience in pushing our profession forward over the next 50 years and beyond.