5 Fun Ways to Celebrate OT Month
When the clock strikes midnight on April 1st, I’m grateful for many things. I’m grateful for a day full of whimsical pranks and silly news articles that I can use to trick to my friends. I’m grateful that spring is coming into full force, with the landscapes around me turning a lush shade of green speckled with new blooms appearing every day.
But mostly, I’m grateful that it signifies the start of Occupational Therapy Month, a whole month dedicated to the wonderful and often misunderstood field of occupational therapy.
Now, and I’m sure many will agree, it already feels like I live, sleep, and breathe OT 365 days of the year. But during OT Month I try to push the envelope even a little more. This year, I’ve come up with 5 fun ways to celebrate OT Month – and I want to hear your ideas, too!
1. Use social media to spread awareness of occupational therapy
While social media has many drawbacks, I try to focus on using it for good – keeping in touch with family and friends, building community, and engaging in productive discussions.
OT Month is a great time to utilize its ability to reach a wide variety of people, especially those that may not know much, if anything, about occupational therapy. You can keep it simple by adding a frame to your profile picture, or you can write a post giving people more information about OT and soliciting questions.
2. Treat yourself to some continuing education
I’ve been an OT for almost 4 years at this point, but sometimes I still feel like I’m in student mode where everything must be done on the cheap. So while I love learning and expanding my practice, I try as much as possible to complete continuing education through my employer instead of shelling out my personal money.
But I would like to change that this month, so I’m planning on taking a course I find highly relevant – not just the least inexpensive one or the one my employer will pay for. It’s both an investment in yourself and an investment in the field of occupational therapy as a whole – if there are OTs out there creating content you find valuable, support them!
If you’re still a student, it can be hard to invest in extra courses when you are still paying for tuition. But check your state licensure laws – if you’re near to graduating, you might be able to utilize any CEUs earned now for licensure renewal.
At the very least, you can learn something that will help you with your fieldwork and deepen your understanding of a niche topic in the way that a fast-paced college class cannot.
3. Host trivia or distribute fun facts
If you’re anything like me, you will throw down for some trivia. And if it’s related to occupational therapy? Even better. Why not host a trivia game for your department, colleagues, or classmates?
If you can include non-OTs, like nursing staff or undergraduates without a chosen major, even better! This could be done in person on a lunch break, or remotely throughout the week through email or a bulletin board.
Worried about people getting way too competitive? You can also distribute the information in the format of fun facts on a flyer instead.
Either way, here’s a freebie for you:
Q. Which profession was started first, OT, PT, or speech?
A. Contrary to how it may seem today, it was actually OT that came along first in 1917. PT followed behind it in 1921 with speech coming a few years after that in 1925.
4. Hold a contest
If you need even more games in your life, try holding a contest! Depending on your setting and participants, you could do anything from identifying the purpose of various pieces of adaptive equipment to using dynamometers to see who can score the highest grip strength.
And don’t stop at coworkers or classmates – think of contests and games you could hold for patients as well, like a competition to see who can throw the most water balloons accurately. If you’re clever, you might even be able to turn this into their therapy session!
As occupational therapy practitioners, we have so much to offer as volunteers, and providing pro bono services falls neatly under the principle of “Justice” in our Code of Ethics. If you’re in a position to offer pro bono services at your facility, you could take this opportunity to develop a sliding scale of payment for patients who are uninsured.
If you’re not, there may be other organizations who would utilize your services. In my hometown, there is a free health clinic staffed entirely by volunteer doctors, nurses, and interpreters. While medical care is their big focus, they are always looking for other providers to expand the number of services they can provide. Many other cities have similar organizations.
If you can’t find anything like this in your area, there are still opportunities to offer your OT skills to the community for free – you could staff a booth at a senior’s health fair, or volunteer at a camp for children with disabilities.
And if you can’t find anything that allows you to use your OT skills specifically, try doing some general volunteering at a meal center or after-school program – you’d be surprised how your OT lens can offer a unique and useful perspective.
I hope that these ideas gave you some jumping off points to celebrate Occupational Therapy Month this year! No matter what you choose to do, anything that uplifts our profession and gets it under the eyes of more people is a good thing.
And while it is sometimes frustrating to have a career that is so unknown, it is kind of cool to get to be the one to teach someone something new. It allows us to control the narrative in a way that many other professionals don’t have the luxury of doing. What better way to head off assumptions before they start than sharing how excited we are at this awesome calling we’ve chosen?
How do you celebrate OT Month? We’d love to hear how you celebrate in the comments below!