What Does It Mean to Celebrate OT?
Before discuss OT Month, we need to get this straight.
OT celebrations cannot be self-serving. Too much of the language surrounding OT month has been about exalting ourselves. I think this is why many of us fail to enter fully into our respective country’s celebration.
Take for example the sample OT month proclamation text:
…I hereby proclaim the month of April as Occupational Therapy Month and call upon all citizens to recognize the achievements and contributions of these valued health professionals.
I do not need all citizens to recognize my achievements. If that is what this celebration is about, I’m out.
But, if celebrating OT means taking time to honor the clients we are privileged to serve, then I’m all in. If celebrating OT means taking a moment to reflect on what we’ve learned and to look forward to ways we can continue to improve our services, let’s do this—and do it well.
11 Ideas for Celebrating OT Month
As mentioned above, these ideas for celebrating OT month are not only aimed at promoting our profession, but also reflecting on our respective OT practices and honoring the patients that we serve.
(I’m saying OT month for my colleagues in the US, but please modify these ideas to fit the timeline of your country’s celebration.)
1.) Reflect on what you’ve learned this past year
I worked under a general practice doctor who would sit down every New Year's and write down the names of the patient’s he had lost. Is this weighty? Yes. Is this beautiful and honoring, absolutely.
We do not deal with people’s passing as frequently in therapy. But, we do have patients in our care who pass away, whose condition dramatically worsens, or whose circumstances pulls heavily on our heartstrings.
It is fitting once a year to take a few moments and honor the patients who have touched your life.
What have you learned both a therapist and as a human being from these patients?
I’m not usually one to journal, but on April 1st (the start of OT Month in the U.S.) I am going to start listing some of the patients that has touched my life in the past year.
2.) Write thank you’s
Are there co-workers that particularly contribute to your ability to provide occupational therapy services? Be it a doctor, CNA, principal, or COTA consider writing them a brief note of gratitude.
3.) Set goals for your services for next year
Instead of lumping your professional goals in with your New Years goals, consider making it a habit to set goals for your professional life at the start of your celebration.
What are three measurable goals you could set for this next year to provide more value to clients?
4.) Set professional goals for the next 5 years
5.) Host an OT get-together
The most dynamic teams I have worked with had a habit of getting together outside of work.
Hosting a get-together could be as simple as picking a time and restaurant to meet at after work. You could also consider having coworkers over for dinner or brunch. No agenda necessary. Just create a space to relax and enjoy one another’s company without the pressure of productivity!
If you are looking for some inspiration in this area check out the PT Pub Night website!
6.) Learn more about OT history
I am such a big believer in the value of taking time to learn from history. Set some time aside this month to learn more about our profession. If you need a starting point, here are 10 of my favorite moments from OT history!
One of my favorite things I did for our occupational therapy space was to donate some photos for the walls. This was several years ago and they still give me a boost every time I walk by them.
Whether you are looking at permanent decorations or you just want to take 5 min. to draw on a white board, here are some pictures to inspire you!
8.) Share information about OT
Memes about the obscurity of occupational therapy are common on the internet. This is a good reminder that there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to sharing basic information about our profession.
Check out my ever evolving "What Is Occupational Therapy" page as a resource.
9.) Have snacks at your department
Let’s be honest, snacks are probably one of the best ways to draw people in. Invite your colleagues to stop by over a lunch or on a particular afternoon, share some yummy OT treats with them and distribute information about your occupational therapy offerings.
10.) Host a Lunch and Learn
It's funny how rarely I actually see the doctors who approve my plans of care and send referrals. I've only done a lunch and learn once for the doctors at my clinic, but one of the main benefits was simply connecting in person. My presentation just had about 6 slides with services we offered that were under-utlizied. I noticed an instant uptick in referrals after this.
11.) Share #OTMonth photos
Whether you have an OT quote that you love or a have a recent staff picture, let’s light up Instagram share some of your favorite #otmonth photos! Here are some of my favorites:
Want to share an image of your OT month celebration? Tag me on Instagram at @otpotential! If you have any additional suggestions for celebrating OT month, share them in the comments!
When Do People Around the World Celebrate OT?
I am writing this from the United States, but I want to close by acknowledging the other OT celebrations that take place around the world. Here is a list of all of the OT celebrations that I know of. (If I am missing one, please let me know in the comments.)
- World Occupational Therapy Day- October 27th
- Canada: Occupational Therapy Month- October
- UK: Occupational Therapy Week- The first week of November
- Argentina: Occupational Therapy Day- September 10th
- Mexico: Occupational Therapy Day- July 5th
- US: Occupational Therapy Month- April
- Australia: OT Week- Starts the 3rd Sunday in October
Still looking for ideas on how to celebrate? Check out the OT Month Toolkit!