PromOTing OT

The history and development of promoting OT

I just read the most recent Eleanor Clarke Slagle lecture published in the Nov/Dec 2012 AJOT, PromOTing Occupational Therapy: Words, Images and Actions. I have to admit that I got pretty distracted by looking up the mentioned OT children's books "You, Me and My OT" and "Betty Blake OT: A Story of Occupational Therapy."  I wonder what kind of adventures Betty Blake, OT got herself into?

Other than the children's books, I had mixed feelings reading the lecture. It was fun to read about the history of promoting OT (did you know dioramas and circuses have been used as legit promotional tools?). But it was also discouraging to read that there were entire decades where there was little to say about the promotion of our profession other than statements like: "the promotion of OT tapered off in the 1950s." Probably the most discouraging decade, however, was the "2000s and Present Times" section in which the promotional high points were the National School Backpack Awareness Campaign and that there was a character who played an OT on the TV show Providence. Now I liked Providence (even though I always get it confused with Judging Amy), but I don't think having an OT portrayed on the show should be considered a promotional success. I understand that having an OT portrayed on a popular television show could help contribute to advancing OT as a household name, but the effort was not actively accomplished by the OT community. 

Concerning the Backpack Awareness Campaign, AOTA's longest standing initiative, I definitely see this as being within our scope of practice, and I do not want little kiddies to have sore backs, but during times where health care topics such as obesity, autism, healthcare costs, an aging population, bullying, etc. are heavy on the minds of the public it seems we have failed as a profession to address to the public's concerns and goals if we avoid more weighty, complex matters in our public relations.   

I am looking forward to the innovative ways OT will promote itself in the next years, not just for the forwarding of our profession, but for the promotion of health for our clients.