Collaborating as an allied health professional

Good morning! (or whatever time of day you’re reading this haha!)

I am writing this as a letter for all allied health professionals that come across this page, but anyone who works with clients in a service providing manner, feel free to read this and comment below.

If you’ve seen the rest of my blog before, you might know that I am an relatively newly certified occupational therapist. I graduated from my masters degree in 2019 and since then, I have been working casually as an occupational therapist.

Throughout my degree, we talked about how important it was to collaborate with our clients, colleagues and other health care professionals to provide the best care possible. In one of my school placements, I got the first hand experience of how extremely beneficial taking a collaborative approach can be, for a therapist as well as their clients and their team. I got to work with other health care professionals and share our knowledge about a client’s clinical experience but also their personalities, as well as community resources, so we were able to provide the best care possible. As I moved out into the real world, my first experience as an occupational therapist was in a private pediatric practice where it was just me and the woman that started the practice. Although we worked from our own homes and saw kids at theirs (virtually over the pandemic times), she was always a text or phone call away, and loved chatting about our clients so we could share experiences and resources. Outside of this connection, I also have a solid group of friends all over the country from my masters program who I speak to daily as we share resources and talk over our clinical reasoning to help create plans for our clients, and have connected with tons of OT groups on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to be more informed on new evidence and new techniques of practice for different populations.

When I started working with a public health care company in December, I was completely out of my element. THEY recruited ME as they found my resume online, and were aware that I had never worked with an older adult population in a physical medicine community care setting. So 2 full months went by of me trying to navigate this new terrain on my own because my clinical lead wasn’t helping the way I was told she should, and because the company had “resources” that were vague and outdated. I used all my resources outside of the company, and spent hours researching on my own (since most of my contacts live outside of my area). I was then told that I shouldn’t be asking questions to my colleagues in our work group chat, but only asking the clinical lead as she didn’t trust they had the right answers.

This made me mad for a long while and actually was one of the factors that led me to moving to a casual employee at this job. As an allied health professional working in the community, we often do the same things with each client – we do the same assessment, and often end up prescribing things that others have prescribed before, or applying to funding that others have applied to before. There should never be anything wrong with working together and sharing information – with this job, we are not really reinventing the wheel. With my pediatric job I need to be creative, I need to adjust every single activity for every single different child’s needs and personality. But for this adult job, I am not inventing new equipment or creating my own funding source.

For companies who are so behind in client referrals because there are not enough OTs, we SHOULD be collaborating more! We should be sharing the work we have done for our clients with others, so that the time other therapists save by not having to do that exact same research can be used to see more clients in a day.

So aside from coming here to RANT about being told that being collaborative in a collaborative career is incorrect, I come here to share this.

We are allied health professionals in a job where we must be forever learning. We must constantly ask questions, read, and expand our knowledge in order to provide our clients with the best care possible. But also remember, that we don’t have to do this alone. One of the 10 OT roles we learned in school was to collaborate. This doesn’t only mean working with your clients, but working with the family, sharing knowledge with your OT colleagues and being open to learning from other non-OT professionals who work with the same population.

We are constantly growing. And if you are not open to learning and growing (and trusting) with your colleagues, you are not doing your best for your clients.

Lots of love, Kristina

Ps – working in community, virtually or in private practice can be quite lonely sometimes and if you don’t have a solid community already it can be difficult to find people to collaborate with. Feel free to comment down below what your role is/what population you work with and perhaps we can get some connections going or share some groups that people can join to get access to meeting other allied health professionals!

Published by maiiflowerr

Pronouns She/Her. I'm a millennial just trying to make a difference in the world, and create space for people to accept themselves and live their best lives. My fiancee, Sydney, and I are mothers to our two goofy cats, and the queens of creative adventures. I am an Occupational therapist, a dancer and a yoga instructor with a passion for supporting people and creating community.

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