Occupational Therapy Leadership at The Doctoral LevelBy David Thompson, UniversityHerald Reporter
Occupational therapy is a vital healthcare profession that focuses on improving individuals' ability to engage in meaningful activities. Leadership at the doctoral level within the field of occupational therapy plays a crucial role in influencing policy, advocating for change and driving system-level transformations. Passionate healthcare workers in the occupational therapy field advocate for their patients and their profession within the healthcare industry from leadership to insurance companies.
The multifaceted aspects of occupational therapy leadership at the doctoral level highlight its impact on policy development, advocacy efforts and supporting meaningful system-level changes to enhance the quality of care and promote occupational justice. These vital impacts should not be taken lightly as they help to improve the overall future of the field for healthcare workers and patients.
Occupational therapy leaders at the doctoral level play a pivotal role in shaping policy related to the profession. Through extensive research, analysis and collaboration, these leaders identify gaps in existing policies, advocate for necessary changes and propose innovative approaches to enhance occupational therapy practice. By interacting with key stakeholders, such as government agencies, professional associations and regulatory bodies, doctoral-level leaders effectively communicate the needs and perspectives of the occupational therapy community.
In addition, occupational therapy leaders actively contribute to policy development by providing evidence-based insights and recommendations. They conduct research and disseminate findings that demonstrate the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions, supporting the integration of these practices into policy frameworks. Their expertise and knowledge allow them to influence policy decisions related to reimbursement, licensure, scope of practice and the inclusion of occupational therapy within broader healthcare systems.
Doctoral-level occupational therapy leaders also serve as advocates for the profession, raising awareness about the unique contributions of occupational therapy and promoting its value in improving individuals' health and wellbeing. Through effective advocacy efforts, these leaders interact with various stakeholders, including policymakers, healthcare providers, educators and the general public, to shape positive perceptions of occupational therapy and garner support for its inclusion in healthcare systems.
While advocating for the profession helps healthcare workers, it also provides benefits for patients. By ensuring that occupational therapy is a recognized vital part of healthcare, they ensure patients have access to quality care from professionals that is covered by most insurance plans.
Occupational therapy leaders at the doctoral level utilize their advanced knowledge to develop persuasive arguments and educational campaigns that highlight the positive outcomes achieved through occupational therapy interventions. They collaborate with professional associations and grassroots organizations to promote occupational therapy's role in addressing societal challenges, such as disability inclusion, mental health and aging populations.
At the doctoral level, occupational therapy leaders drive significant system-level changes to improve the delivery and accessibility of occupational therapy services. They identify and address barriers that impede optimal care, advocate for increased funding and resources and promote interprofessional collaboration to enhance patient outcomes.
These leaders actively engage in research and practices that contribute to the development of evidence-based models of care. They explore innovative approaches to service delivery, such as telehealth, community-based programs and technology integration, ensuring that occupational therapy adapts to the evolving needs of individuals and communities.
In addition, occupational therapy leaders at the doctoral level foster collaboration among various healthcare disciplines, promoting a holistic and integrated approach to patient care. By establishing strong partnerships with other healthcare professionals, policymakers and community organizations, they drive coordinated efforts to address complex health challenges and improve healthcare systems' overall effectiveness.
There are many paths for students to take to reach a career in occupational therapy. Today, it is more accessible than it ever has been before with remote online learning making it easier to access schools and to work while learning. Many schools provide this option, which is great for anyone who would like to advance their career and would prefer to continue working in the interim. Many schools will also provide assistance in finding clinical and career placements.
One such school is American International College which provides online learning through online clinical mental health counseling programs for students looking to advance their education. Based on an integrated curriculum, this program trains students to become capable counselors who are well-versed in theory, research and clinical skills. Ideal for working professionals, the courses in this program are 100% online and require no campus travel.
When choosing a school, it is important to find one that meets your needs and provides you with the education to leave school and step into the field. There is a high demand for counselors in this field as well, so it would be a good career choice for anyone that is passionate about helping others in the occupational therapy field.
An article at the National Library of Medicine outlines a study on occupational therapists as social change agents (SCA). It states: "Our study explored factors influencing the ability of occupational therapists to take on the role of SCA. Among the cross-cutting personal factors we identified, nine intrinsic characteristics are conducive to the effectiveness of SCAs, as are 11 skills and 12 strategies. Eleven environmental factors, grouped under six themes, can facilitate or impede work on a change project. Our results mainly confirm what common sense would lead us to expect." The outcome of the study illustrates the changes that occupational therapists are involved in across all aspects of their positions.
Occupational therapy leadership at the doctoral level is crucial for influencing policy, advocating for change and driving system-level transformations. These leaders shape policy development, contribute to evidence-based practices, advocate for the profession and support meaningful system-level changes. Through their expertise, knowledge and collaborative efforts, occupational therapy leaders ensure that the profession is well-positioned to deliver high-quality care, promote occupational justice and meet the evolving needs of individuals and communities. Their impact extends beyond the immediate realm of occupational therapy, positively influencing healthcare systems and contributing to the overall wellbeing of society.