6 Benefits of Being an AOTA Member
While I love being an occupational therapist, the costs of it can certainly add up over time. Once you account for state licensure, NBCOT fees, continuing education, CPR training, TB tests, flu shots, and uniforms, it’s hard to reserve any funds for much else, especially as a new grad.
So when AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Assocation) comes a-knocking, it can be easy to dismiss it as an unnecessary expense and call it a day.
However, AOTA membership does come with some useful benefits that have the potential to be highly relevant to your practice. Ultimately, deciding to become an AOTA member is a personal choice for every occupational therapist – and how you plan to use it makes a difference on if it’s “worth it” or not.
To help you make that decision, we’ve compiled this unbiased list of the most practical AOTA membership features and benefits.
1. Hundreds of Resources and Handouts on AOTA.org
Whether you’re an AOTA member or not, the website can be a great place to find useful resources, from potty-training handouts to articles on the role of occupational therapists in skilled nursing settings. However, only some of these resources are available to everyone for free.
Personally, I’ve been an AOTA member off and on throughout my career, and nothing puts a plug in a good ol’ OT research session than getting met with that dreaded “members only” page. With AOTA membership, that is no longer an issue. The resources are thorough and high-quality, too. I’ve used them for everything from giving parents strategies to work on skills at home to advocating for a specific treatment modality in the school setting.
2. Access to AJOT
If you want to deepen your research, AOTA membership also offers access to the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT), the only American academic journal that focuses solely on occupational therapy research.
Whether you’re searching for something specific or just hoping to keep up with the latest in occupational therapy, AJOT is a great starting point. However, be aware that if you only want access to AJOT, you may already have a way to view it. Everyone who is a current NBCOT registrant gets a ProQuest membership, which in turn is able to search AJOT.
However, if you’ve decided not to maintain your NBCOT registration, this may be the most cost-effective way, especially if you take advantage of the other AOTA benefits. This is also a great way to get started on incorporating more evidence-based practice into your day-to-day.
3. Discounts on CEUs, Books, and Conferences
If you’re like me, you love a good discount, and AOTA membership offers plenty of opportunities to find that. Honestly, depending on how much money you spend on professional development, AOTA membership might save you money.
One of the biggest places you can see these savings are AOTA Annual Conference fees – the difference for member vs nonmember registration is literally the cost of a yearly membership. This doesn’t even take into account the fact that AOTA membership is cheaper your first couple years out of school – so if you plan on attending conference in those first two years, a membership is definitely worth it. Beyond that, AOTA members also get discounts on continuing ed courses or books offered on the AOTA store.
4. Discounts on Insurance
To continue on the money-saving train, AOTA also offers discounts on various types of insurance. Now, you may already be aware of the discount on professional liability insurance (which is super important to have if your company isn’t already providing it for you).
But did you know that AOTA offers car insurance discounts through Geico as well? At one point, this was the cheapest car insurance quote I could find so I actually did end up utilizing this benefit. And while I haven’t personally used them, AOTA membership will also net you discounts on home, life, and pet insurance as well.
5. OT Practice Magazine
This may seem like an inconsequential benefit to some, but honestly, getting one of these magazines in the mail was the highlight of my day while I was in grad school. It was so cool to read about other OTs doing interesting things with their degree, and I loved flipping through it to be inspired. The bulk of the magazine consists of articles submitted by other occupational therapists who have a unique perspective or an interesting case study.
Also, the tone of the magazine is much more conversational and light than research articles, so it was nice to read after my brain was drained by classwork and still feel like I was doing something to further my knowledge of occupational therapy.
6. Funding for Advocacy
One of the biggest purposes of AOTA is to advocate for occupational therapy, whether that be on Capitol Hill or through negotiations with insurance companies. Did you know that AOTA has its own PAC (Political Action Committee)?
While it stinks that lobbying is necessary to get things done, it is so important that our profession is represented when legislators make decisions that affect our patients and our livelihoods. Another cool arm of advocacy is Promote OT, a website and nonprofit devoted to increasing the public knowledge of occupational therapy – a movement I think we can all get behind.
While AOTA membership can be hard to budget for, it’s nice to know that some of the money from membership dues is an investment in the future of our profession. Plus, if you are interested in advocating for occupational therapy in either a professional or volunteer capacity, starting with an AOTA membership is a great way to get involved.
While AOTA membership comes with some other fringe benefits, these were the ones I found were the most relevant to practicing clinicians. In the end, each occupational therapist has to make a decision on if membership is financially and professionally a good use of resources for them. While I’m not consistently a member, there have been some years where I’ve heavily utilized AOTA’s benefits. Personally, I’m very happy to have the option.
Are you an AOTA member? What AOTA benefits do you use the most? If you’ve decided against being an AOTA member, what was your deciding factor? We’d love to hear both sides!