Deborah Whitcomb, PhD, MBA, OTR/L
This interview is part of a series to promote the AOTA elections. I contacted all of the candidates from two key races and will systematically be releasing these interviews from January 21- January 26, 2015.
Why did you decide to run for the AOTA Board of Directors?
I have been serving at the district level as the chair of my district and at the state level as the Treasurer. I see this opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors as a natural extension of the work I have been doing. It is a growth opportunity for me as well as a chance to give back to my profession. It is an opportunity to use the perspectives I have gained locally influence our professional organization on a national scale to benefit its members.
If elected, what do you anticipate your upcoming year will look like?
I think the first order of business for me, besides becoming oriented to the process of AOTA Board of Directors, is to become more conversant with the issues that are most important to the membership. I think that board members have a responsibility to serve as a conduit of information from membership (and other stakeholders) to AOTA leadership and from leadership to members. I look forward to assisting in setting policy that helps in day to day practice while supporting AOTA’s mission, centennial vision and strategic goals. AOTA has five strategic goals that were approved by the Board of Directors in 2013. I think they are important for establishing a strong organization that can support its members and help us each to maximize our potential in our current practice settings whatever they may be. They are: building the profession’s capacity to fulfill its potential and mission; demonstrating and articulating our value to individuals, organizations, and communities; linking education, research, and practice; creating an inclusive community of members, and securing the financial resources to invest in the profession’s ability to respond to societal needs.
What are two specific goals you would like to achieve through your office in the upcoming year?
I believe that in order to make an impact on the larger healthcare community and the community at large we must first become a cohesive community that can support each other in our diversity in terms of practice areas and our expanding diversity in terms of practitioners. Inclusivity and understanding can come when opportunities for connections among members can occur. I would help to facilitate those connections.
I also believe our profession will be strengthened by furthering a symbiosis among practice, education and research. The work of practitioners, researchers and educators can and should be mutually beneficial without a sense of rivalry.
In what area is it most critical for the AOTA to achieve growth over the next 5 years?
AOTA of course should be concerned with the growth of its membership – not just in terms of numbers of members. Growth in diversity, knowledge, and exposure of its members are important.
What is one thing that you want voters to know about you?
Voters should know that the profession of occupational therapy has afforded me with many opportunities in my life for which I am very grateful. Having a profession in which I could reinvent myself to meet my life’s objectives has allowed me to achieve my larger goals. Now I am afforded this opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors to pay back, in a small way, what I have received.