Professional Identity in OT
Themes from Twitter #OTalk 25.10.11
Topic: Our Professional Identity and how we Describe our Role
Our first live twitter discussion was launched this week to coincide with the celebration of World OT Day. The discussion, which will continue every Tuesday 8-9pm GMT aims to provide a forum for interested parties to discuss key issues in occupational therapy #OTalk and occupational science #Occhat. This week started with a discussion around our professional identity and how we describe our role. A number of key themes evolved over the hour. Participants shared how they describe what they do:
“Enabling people to engage in meaningful daily life occupations, contributing to health and wellbeing”.
“To work with the patient to enable them to develop activities they want and need to do”.
“Helping People to do the activities they want to do everyday from getting up to work and hobbies often using those activities to work on the skills they need to develop. Exact working often changes”.
“Useful to talk about performance areas, not just self-care etc”.
“Enabling engagement in occupation although interestingly often back this up by explaining occupation as meaningful activity”.
“Occupational therapist are fascinated by the things that occupy, your time, your attention, your life and can help you do the things you want or need to do to take care of yourself, have a satisfying social/leisure life, or feel useful.”
This triggered many discussions around the challenges of defining what we do. It was acknowledged that occupation has a myriad of definitions, often requires clarification and explanation and that this can be part of the challenge when describing what we do. It was suggested however that other terms such as activity and function do not capture what occupation is and occupation was acknowledged as complex and fascinating. There was discussion around how occupational therapy should focus on making a difference rather than defining occupation and it was acknowledged, rather appropriately that actions speak louder than words.
Discussion around a diversity of identity across the profession was interesting, with participants acknowledging that occupational therapy roles vary across different fields. This led to much discussion around the impact conforming to service needs can have on occupational therapy practice. There was acknowledged pressure on OTs to conform to the needs of the service as opposed to the client, often accepting generic tasks that can result in denting our identity. Participants discussed why OT’s use non-occupational therapies and many felt that this is often due to the fact that they can be justified as having an impact on function. However, it was acknowledged that just about everything can be explained in terms of meeting an occupational need and it was suggested that we need to distinguish between what we do best and when needs can be better met elsewhere.
Participants also discussed how we communicate our identity and some felt that an increase in OT evidence and research would help other professionals and the general public to understand more about OT identity and role. However it was questioned if these groups would read OT journals. Open access publishing , TV adverts, blogs and wikis were discussed as ways of communicating what we do to MDT’s, the public and policy makers.
Also discussed was the role of OT education in fostering professional identity. While it was argued that students expect skills based training, addressing professional identity, particularly as training is not specialized was considered important. Throughout the discussion participants shared strategies they used to maintain an occupation focus, in-line with their professional identity. Participants talked about basing practice on conceptual models and occupational science. Also discussed was the value of MDT’s using the same model, using occupational words when communicating with other professionals and defining goals occupationally.
The next discussion will take place on Tuesday 1.11.11 8-9pm GMT and will have an occupational science focus. Please check the Facebook group for details https://www.facebook.com/OTalk.Occhat
A summary of the key themes can also be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/notes/otalkocchat/themes-from-twitter-otalk-251011/188556051223090
And the tweets can be viewed at: