Students from PKUHSC Attend the 2023 AOTA Inspire Conference
April 24, 2023
USC-PKUHSC Cohort 2 dual-degree students attend the 2023 AOTA Inspire Conference in Kansas City, Missouri and share their transformative experiences.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Inspire Annual Conference and Expo aims to provide a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and celebration of the occupational therapy profession. This conference is the largest of its kind in which occupational therapy (OT) practitioners, researchers, educators, and students gather from around the world. This year, the Cohort 2 students of the dual-degree program between USC and Peking University Health Science Center (PKUHSC), who are now in their occupational therapy doctorate (OTD) year at USC, attended the conference for the first time, embarking on a transformative journey of professional growth and inspiration.
The AOTA Inspire conference showcased an impressive lineup of speakers and presenters who are renowned experts in the OT field. For the USC-PKUHSC cohort 2 students, it was an invaluable opportunity to learn from the best by attending keynote speeches, workshops, and panel discussions led by these esteemed professionals.
Yujia Mo had an eye-opening experience attending her first OT conference, where she gained valuable insights and a renewed sense of purpose. One particular talk that stood out to her was about shifting from cultural competence to cultural humility. As an international student from China pursuing a PhD at USC, this topic resonated deeply with Yujia. It prompted her to reflect on her own journey transitioning from Chinese to Western culture and her goal to advance occupational science and therapy in China. During the conference, Yujia engaged in authentic conversations about the cultural landscape in America, which further fueled her passion for her academic pursuits. Attending the AOTA conference was a significant experience for Yujia, providing her the inspiration and motivation to continue her academic journey and contribute to the fields of occupational science and therapy. The experience allowed her to envision her future and the person she aspires to become. It reminded her that she is not alone on this path and that she has a network of support, guidance, and valuable conversations of occupational therapy.
Wen Guo shared her experience at the conference, stating, “I was impressed by a core course on operationalizing behavior change, which inspired me to reflect on the theories I learned in the Lifestyle Redesign class.” The presenters explored the Fogg Behavior Model and learned how motivation, ability, and prompting intersect to drive behavior. This core course discussed how mindful awareness, learning, and behavioral triggers might connect to changes in health behavior. Wen found it interesting how different theories share similarities, enabling the analysis of behavior and promotion of change for clients. Her experience showcases the transformative impact of understanding and applying behavior change theories in occupational therapy practice.
Yongshi Wang found inspiration in the “Conversations that Matter” sessions. She appreciated the interactive format, through which participants gathered with a speaker to discuss a specific theme and engage in question and answer exchanges. Yongshi valued the opportunities to explore topics of interest (e.g., spirituality in mental health occupational therapy and the therapeutic use of self), exchange perspectives with students and practitioners alike, and gain different insights from diverse perspectives. Her experience highlights the transformative nature of conversation: simultaneously fostering personal growth and contributing to the collective knowledge of the global OT community.
Hanjun Xu took advantage of the opportunity to engage in discussions with fellow occupational therapy practitioners, gaining a stronger understanding of different perspectives of current issues in occupational therapy. She was particularly impressed by the keynote speaker, John O’Leary, whose story deepened her appreciation of the significance of occupational therapy. Hanjun also learned that occupational therapists are involved in various fields, including the NICU, expanding her perception of the profession’s scope of practice. Additionally, she observed similar challenges in occupational therapy development between China and the United States, such as decreased funding, increased time constraints, and lack of recognition from other team members. Hanjun’s experience highlighted the transformative impact of exchanging ideas and broadening perspectives in occupational therapy practice.
Qian Xu shared that she was deeply impressed by a lecture titled “Facilitators and Barriers to Transitioning from Clinician to Academic,” which helped her make informed decisions about her career path. She also learned practical methods like Visual Thinking Strategy (VTS) from other academic lectures, which will contribute to her own clinical toolkit. Attending these sessions broadened Qian’s career prospects by opening her eyes to the different possibilities within OT.
Hongying Zhong expressed that she thoroughly enjoyed the conference and was grateful for the chance to delve into the latest advancements in occupational therapy. The wide range of lectures made a profound impact on her, especially the lecture on the six stages of change. This lecture explained the mindset shifts that patients undergo in each stage and the corresponding strategies for occupational therapists, which empowered her with the ability to guide patients in gradually transforming their mindset, accepting their condition, and embracing occupational therapy. Hongying expressed a desire to attend more conferences in the future to acquire valuable knowledge and insights. The conference re-ignited her passion for the field and will undoubtedly contribute to her professional growth.
Overall, the USC-PKUHSC Cohort 2 students’ participation in the 2023 AOTA Inspire conference was truly a transformative experience. The conference served as a catalyst for professional growth, allowing them to broaden their knowledge, enhance their practical skills, and connect with experts and peers in the field across the globe. This event not only inspired the students, but also solidified their commitment to the occupational therapy profession and their desire to make a meaningful impact on the OT profession back in China. The USC-PKUHSC Cohort 2 students returned from the conference with a renewed sense of purpose, armed with new insights and ideas.