April is Occupational Therapy Month. This yearly tradition started through AOTA in 1980 to correspond with AOTA’s Annual Conference. It is a time for both Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapist Assistants to celebrate, and for everyone to appreciate the unique knowledge and training that we in the Occupational Therapy Profession possess.
To fully appreciate this profession we need to take a trip back to the 1800’s where the foundation of our profession began to be accepted into mainstream medicine. During this time, led by the father of Occupational Therapy William Rush Dunton Jr., the benefits of Occupational Engagement including ADL and IADL participation, as well as arts and crafts, became more recognized as part of the healing process. It wasn't until 1915 when the first Educational Occupational Therapy Program was established by Eleanor Clark Slagle. World War I is when Occupational Therapy became quite prominent, leading the cause to help soldiers both physically and mentally recover from war.
Leading into today, Occupational Therapy has continued to expand into a variety of different areas, helping all populations of people across the lifespan. I myself have had the fortune to work across the spectrum including school based, acute and intensive care, home health, and even some training in outpatient neuro. As different as these settings are, OTs apply their unique blend of training, creativity, and passion in order to positively impact our patients, clients and, students to engage and become more independent in their occupations.
Whether you are a young up and coming therapist or a more established therapist, I think it is important to recognize how special your skill set is and continue to advocate for the profession. I myself have heard this through school and through various outlets and often rolled my eyes at this notion. Oftentimes, I never thought twice about it, but almost 2 years into my career I am beginning to understand the importance of this idea, not just for myself or even for our governing bodies, but to let the world know how important and vital this beautiful profession truly is, and to continue expanding our knowledge and skill set.
During this Month, it is important to appreciate an Occupational Therapist or Occupational Therapy Assistant. To all OT's and OTA’s, keep this in mind during the month of April: appreciate yourself and take pride in the profession and advocate for yourself and your profession no matter what barriers you may face. Occupational Therapy is just over 100 years old, and we want to make the next 100 years even better.