Occupational Therapists Are Nice

Occupational Therapists Are Nice

I felt belittled in an online exchange recently. After thinking about it, what was shocking was not that it happened, but rather how in an internet world that is notorious for harsh criticism, I hardly ever have to deal with that nonsense. That’s because I interact primarily with OTs and OTs are nice. 

When I was considering career paths, I never even entertained the thought of other health professions. I admired the OTs I knew and wanted to be part of the culture that incubated them. They stood out to me as very kind people who passionately cared for their patients.  Honestly, OT culture has not disappointed. 

As I’ve been blogging more, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with even more OTs and the kindness trend continues. People have been ridiculously helpful, encouraging and willing to share their thoughts and expertise.

My question is how to do we utilize the amazing culture of occupational therapy to aid our patients and where do we need to seek growth?

Connectivity and Compassion-- two upsides of kindness

I hear stories about others’ experience in grad school— the vying for top positions, the public postings of grades to encourage this competition— and I cannot relate. My classmates were extremely driven, but not for the sake of competition.  Interpersonal connections prized over competition and now, five years later, I feel like I could call up anyone of them. 

Connectivity is part of occupational therapy culture, so how can we be using it to best aid our patients? This is one of the drumbeats of my blog. We need to be connecting with each other to make our individual practices the best they can be. We are not islands. The world of healthcare is to complex and too quickly changing to pretend we are. If you have a question, concern, frustration about you practice, share it. I haven't seen stats on this, but I’d be willing to bet that OTs have an unusually high level of compassion and empathy. Meaning your question, concern or frustration will land in a safe place.

Criticism and Feedback-- a place for growth

I recently read an article called 9 Ways Being Nice at Work Is Holding You Back. The article presents “9 Nice Behaviors” and compares them to 9 actions you should be doing instead. Several of the examples hit home for me:

  • Ignore Coworker Transgressions and Missteps vs. Present Problems Respectfully
  • Wait for Feedback vs. Ask for Feedback
  • Wear a Pleasant Smile at All Times vs. Be Genuine

We avoid feedback and criticism because we are sensitive to hurt feelings; I see this in the work place and in public forums. But we need to remember that critique is not synonymous with harsh internet nonsense. In fact, critique and feedback are necessary for personal growth, growing our profession and ultimately delivering the best care possible to our patients. The fact that you have a high degree of emotional intelligence, can make you the perfect person to respectfully tackle problems. You can utilize your kindness to make critique a way of building up vs. tearing down. 

I love the quote below about critique. It helps me imagine what our profession could look like if we could better harness our kindness.

I can’t help but dream about a kind of criticism that would not try to judge, but bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea-foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply, not judgments, but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep. - Michel Foucault
How My Practice Was Inspired By OccupationalTherapy.com

How My Practice Was Inspired By OccupationalTherapy.com

Amy Jo Lamb, OTD, OTRL, FAOTA

Amy Jo Lamb, OTD, OTRL, FAOTA

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