About Student Resources: 
Meet your Student Resource Writers

Jonathan Pitts OTD-S, Student Resource WriterJonathan Pitts OTD-S, Student Resource Writer

Hello, I’m Jonathan Pitts! Welcome to the Hot Topics section of the FOTA student resource page. Within this section I will be reporting and discussing issues that are current, important, and sometimes controversial to the field of occupational therapy. 

My goal is to present ideas and information fairly and critically so that readers can be more informed about their profession and the wider healthcare landscape. If you have any comments, ideas for topics, or contributions feel free to email me at jpotd2266@gmail.com. I found occupational therapy senior year at Flagler College. With a social and cultural psychology background I felt that my own goals of helping people regain their lives lined up with the core philosophy of OT. I am currently a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at Nova Southeastern University Tampa.

 Jordan Powers OTD-S, Student Resource WriterJordan Powers OTD-S, Student Resource Writer

Hello everyone!  My name is Jordan Powers and I am a second year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at Nova Southeastern University in Tampa, FL. I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2008. After graduation, I volunteered as an occupational therapy technician at an Army hospital in N.C. and fell in love with the profession. 

One day I hope to make a difference in the lives of military members with physical and mental traumas. Being involved and volunteering allows me to fulfill my passion for serving others. I love this profession and hope that my enthusiasm INSPIRES you. I am always available through email: jp2290@nova.edu so just drop a line if you need a little individual encouragement.

Cheryl Mae Granada OTD-S: Student Resource CoordinatorCheryl Mae Granada OTD-S, Student Resource Coordinator

Hello! Welcome to Community Connections. My name is Cheryl Mae Granada and the purpose of this section is to raise awareness of what is happening with student occupational therapy organizations within Florida (OTA/MOT/OTD programs). As a writer in this section, my goal is to bridge connections and promote networking opportunities between students who follow the same passion of occupational therapy. We can learn so much from each other. I hope to do this by interviewing and spotlighting local student organizations each semester. Please contact me at cg1474@nova.edu if you would like your student organization to participate in an interview. 

Along with trying to connect the student occupational therapy community through this section, I am a second year Doctor of Occupational Therapy student at Nova Southeastern University-Tampa. Go Sharks! I knew I wanted to be an occupational therapist when I was in tenth grade and I have a personal goal to spread the word on the specialized services that occupational therapy has to offer in this day and age. I hope to work with children and youth however, with the vast opportunities our profession has to offer I intend to keep my mind open. 


 

HOT TOPICS: 

Politics and OT

For this first post I thought it would be appropriate to talk about politics and occupational therapy (OT). We find ourselves in one the most dynamic elections cycles in United States history. But don’t worry, I’m not going tell you how you should vote, only that that you should vote. It’s your right and your duty as a citizen to cast your vote for the person who you think will best represent you, your community, and your country. I think OT and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) students should at least be aware of the current political issues, especially those that would affect our profession and the clients with whom we work. 

The Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) has its own governmental affairs wing, which is currently headed by Barbara Ingram-Rice. Her job is to keep her finger on the political pulse of the Florida legislature and make sure that we are informed about bills that could potentially have an impact on OT practice in Florida. In the recent past, FOTA has headed a campaign to get OT covered on capital state workers’ healthcare plans. Previously, they were able to defend OT as a licensed profession when licensing was in jeopardy. I would highly encourage any student reading this to become a member of FOTA and stay up to date on the current issues here in Florida. There is even a Facebook group! To be in the group all you need to do is become a member of FOTA and ask to join! -> https://www.facebook.com/groups/410718902421575/

In addition to supporting your state association, I’d encourage you to join AOTA and support American Occupational Therapy Political Action committee or AOTPAC. They defend your practice scope and the rights of the clients we work with on a federal level, as well as assist states when they are needed. Their main goal is to support legislation and candidates who will keep the interests of the profession in mind. They even have a list of representatives whom they have endorsed! Check it out here -> http://www.aota.org/Advocacy-Policy/AOTPAC/Support.aspxhttp://www.aota.org/Advocacy-Policy/AOTPAC/Support.aspx Being a politically active and informed occupational therapist is how I think our profession will grow and become stronger. It’s largely apolitical. Anyone from any party can help out and get on board when our professional interests, or the interests our clients are on the line.  


INSPIRATION CORNER:
OT, Coffee, and OT

I’m sure many of you have seen the various posts online about the dramatic difference occupational therapy (OT) can make in someone’s life and the inspirational stories about the clients served. OT is doing amazing things and providing the opportunity to pursue meaningful occupations to the individuals we serve. In case you don’t live on Facebook (we all have schoolwork right?). There are wonderful stories out right now regarding OT and individuals of varying abilities to get those tears flowing and hearts pounding. Here is a quick synopsis and links to a few examples. 

  1.  An OT serving in an under-privileged area gets recognized for her contribution by Ellen DeGeneres  http://ellentube.com/videos/0-km5axajs/
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  2. Target partners with family to ensure adults with disabilities can have safe and happy shopping experiences. Beginning March 19th full size carts will be available nationwide https://corporate.target.com/article/2016/02/carolines-cart

  3. Starbucks is doing great things; providing vocational opportunities to a child with ASD (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukDKrwoL36g) and employing individuals who know American Sign Language to ensure a delightful experience for individuals who are deaf. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ius8yk7vmtA

  4. Tommy Hilfiger is creating a line of clothing for children with disabilities http://themighty.com/2016/02/tommy-hilfiger-launches-adaptive-collection-for-children-with-disabilities/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Mighty_Page&utm_campaign=DISABILITY

    And in case you haven’t seen there is a whole list of companies that provide adapted clothing  http://www.childrenwithspecialneeds.com/disability-info-2/adapted-clothing/

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
A student member’s perspective

Robbie ArmstrongRobbie Armstrong is a second year graduate student from the University of Florida’s (UF) Master of Occupational Therapy (OT) program and is an active member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA). SOTA is open to undergraduate and graduate students and serves to prepare students for their career while being active in community service events. He defines occupational therapy in five words or less as ‘Enabling people to live life’ and really enjoyed his Adult Assessment Intervention course in his program because the class exposed him to guest speakers that translated textbook OT to real world OT. He hopes OT plays a more prominent role in medicine as well as reach international places where OT is non-existent but needed. One day he hopes to practice in different settings as a travel occupational therapist. The following interview reviews Robbie’s perspective on the student organization. 

What made you decide to be a part of this student organization and what do you intend to change/keep?


 I decided to join SOTA because it gave me an opportunity to become more familiar with OT settings, populations, and the rapidly evolving trends and practices of our profession. One of the changes the leadership of SOTA made that I consider the most significant was spreading the word about OT. Most students are not even aware of the existence of OT. We made a focused effort on engaging freshmen and sophomores at UF to acquaint them with the profession, and subsequently, our membership skyrocketed. We added a ‘professional development’ component to SOTA consisting of collaboration and learning from local OT professionals and playing an active role with our regional Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) chapter. One of the things we decided to keep from previous years was the friendly and accessible leadership; the organization is very welcoming to newcomers. This has allowed newer, younger, and less experienced members feel less intimidated and more empowered to be active in the organization. 

Do you feel collaboration with other student programs may help your student organization (i.e. collaborating with OTA/MOT/OTD student orgs in specific community events)?

 Yes, I believe there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by working with other student programs. A more interconnected OT community makes for a stronger one that can accomplish a lot more. We have a lot to learn from each other. 

What are your goals for this program in the long run?

First, I think it’s very important for SOTA to become more integrated with the medical community as a whole. I think the OT community often tends to cloister itself away from the mainstream medical world due to our particularly distinct role in medicine. While it is great that we take pride in our very unique profession, I think we really need to make an effort to become more acquainted with our future coworkers and acquaint them with our profession, especially as healthcare moves toward an integrated and interdisciplinary approach. Being able to understand each other's’ unique roles, skills, and contributions will allow us to develop a more educated and effective treatment to our clients.

Next, we need to continue advocating for our profession. There are still a lot of people who are not aware of what OT is and what it has to offer. It’s imperative we continue and improve our efforts in these areas and begin taking it further by taking a step into the political arena by advocating for our profession on a state, national, and even international level through collaboration with professional organizations such as FOTA, American Occupational Therapy Association, and World Federation of Occupational Therapy. 

Finally, we need to increase our efforts on preparing our members for their future OT career by sharpening their professional skills. By educating members on the profession as well as other skills such as resume building and job interviewing, they can be more prepared and successful for the next step of their career.  

 What have you learned the most from being a part of your student organization?

I’ve learned that getting involved and putting yourself out there is the best way to learn. When it comes to OT, taking a strictly academic approach will limit your understanding. While knowing the textbook hard facts and medical components of OT is certainly an important part of learning, you really need to experience it first hand and expose yourself to new situations, new people, and new perspectives to truly develop the holistic OT mindset and embrace the profession’s philosophy. 

What is your advice for students studying occupational therapy? 

 
     I think the best thing a student can do is to, immerse oneself into the OT world. Read articles and books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, go to conferences and presentations, volunteer, get involved with student and professional organizations. Doing so will help develop your passion and knowledge of the profession and get you more attuned to what’s out there. Equipped with this, you can begin to forge your vision of your career path and your identity within the profession.  


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STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS

Your FOTA  Membership dollars at work! The Florida OT Association Board is pleased to announce that membership dollars have now promoted the opportunity of education! In 2010 the Board voted to form a partnership with the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) to enable your state association to offer a scholarship to an OT student. Monies from a long-held but small scholarship fund in the name of Myra McDaniels were given to the AOTF to manage. This action has allowed these monies to grow sufficiently to offer a scholarship this year. AOTF reported this month that Over 1,000 students began the process and over two hundred students submitted their applications. The Scholarship Selection Committee is now busy reviewing the applications. Your Association Board and future recipients of this scholarship thank you for your membership! For more information visit:

http://www.aotf.org/scholarshipsgrants/scholarshipprogram.aspx |Download Scholarship Sources PDF


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CONTACTS:

Jonathan Pitts OTD-S, Student Resource Writer

Jordan Powers OTD-S, Student Resource Writer

Cheryl Mae Granada OTD-S: Student Resource Coordinator

FOTA Administration