AOTA 2015 in Nashville! Yee-hawww!
May 11, 2015
This post is about my recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee for this year’s AOTA conference! First off, I have to give a big thanks to the division for making this trip possible for me, as I was fortunately awarded a scholarship to attend the conference. This was a huge help, especially since I probably spent half of this amount on some bah-beh-cue dry ribs alone. Haha totally kidding, but jokes aside, having the opportunity to attend this year’s conference really brings my entire gradschool experience full circle. Exactly two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend the AOTA national conference right before I started the program, in which I volunteered. For any individuals who are hoping to gain a conference experience, I highly recommend volunteering, even if you are not yet a practitioner or a student! Typically if you volunteer, you get to attend the conference for free, as was the case for me two years ago. I remember going two years ago, just being admitted to the program, with excitement of what was to come. I remember running into Ricky and Rob, two former ambassadors, and little did I know that I’d be filling their shoes two years later. With that said, as Leila mentioned in a previous post, this year’s conference was the largest ever! It was a pleasure getting to attend several educational sessions, meeting other practitioners and fellow students, and just enjoying the OT pride that was definitely palpable in the atmosphere!
This year’s theme was “giving voice to the distinct value of occupational therapy.” Personally for me, this means being able to articulate, advocate, and express the unique skillset occupational therapists can provide to help all people, in utilizing occupation to help everyone we serve reach their fullest potential. Whether that’s helping a Grandfather who’s recovering from stroke gain the upper extremity strength to hold his baby granddaughter, helping a Mother who’s battling cancer find meaningful occupations while she receives treatment, helping a child with special needs gain the skillset they need to access their school curriculum, or helping a veteran with PTSD foster therapeutic relationships within the community through surfing, our value is diverse, essential, and most definitely distinct. This was actually one of my favorite things about the conference; the fact that I was able to attend several educational sessions and poster board presentations that demonstrated how occupational therapy is evolving on a daily basis, and just how occupational therapist are utilizing their unique skill sets to help people of all backgrounds. One of the practitioners I had met was formulating an occupation based program for refugees from other countries, who have a long history of oppression, abuse, or trauma. A fellow student I had met had implemented a creative arts and crafts program at a local women’s penitentiary, which I really identified with especially given my experiences at Project 180. Several relatively new professionals spoke about their transition from student to working clinician, and it was great to gain their insight about their challenges and their keys to success.
All in all, AOTA 2015 was an amazing experience that gave me greater insight about my profession, and where it is headed towards the future. Needless to say, It’s an exciting time to be in the profession and to see what my fellow colleagues have been working on to help our profession grow and evolve. In addition, Nashville was an amazing city as well and it was tons of fun checking out the city with my classmates and several new friends in our spare time. I can definitely say that I have never in my life heard so many country covers of ’90s hip and R&B songs. Here’s a video documenting some my AOTA 2015 experience.
Y’all take care now,