Exploring OT and OTA collaboration in the field

If you have read my blog post before, you know I am an occupational therapist and a preceptor to placement students. At my full-time job I take students who are in occupational therapy, and the occupational therapy assistant program, personal support workers, and recreational therapist. We also have students from other disciplines who do placement at our facility under the supervision of our other main staff members. From the day that I did my placement as a student at the facility, I recognized the specialness of collaboration that I had not experience anywhere else.

When I completed my placement at the facility, it was my second placement and I had just completed a first placement at a hospital. The collaboration between OT and OTA was theoretical at best, with contention between the profession with an undertone of disrespect. I never had the true opportunity in the hospital to experience collaboration because my preceptors never demonstrated their understanding of the value of their assistants.

When I started my placement at the facility I currently work at, I was so grateful and humbled by the knowledge of every other profession that I keep in contact with. Moving into my role as an occupational therapist and a preceptor at this facility, I try to stress the importance of interprofessional collaboration as well as intra-professional collaboration with our a OTA colleagues.

This past Monday, I had the opportunity to invite a fellow occupational therapist who is the fieldwork supervisor/coordinator for one of the OTA programs in our area, to come and speak with my students. She is currently working on exploring how to better the collaboration between OT and OTA, and was eager to see how we made the collaboration work at our facility. My students had the opportunity to add in their experience and input from the education they learn in school to their learning in placement. It was wonderful to be able to share my personal experiences and observations and allow that validation and collaboration to happen between the OT and OTA Students as well as myself and my OTA colleague. Discussing the gaps in our knowledge about each other, of the concerns about our registration and delegation of tasks, Allowed everyone to be heard and I hope allowed my student to feel valued in their role.

One of the main topics that came up was the lack of knowledge about each other, and the lack of time allotted for conversations between OT in OTA to really build that rapport and trust within each other. I’m thankful in reflection, that I am able to take time in my day to connect with my OTA To check in with each other’s experiences and observations and to update our goals. I’m also grateful that everyone at my facility is able to see the benefits and the skills and knowledge that each other had and how that can help enhance the value of our work.

Moving forward I’m eager to continue to learn more about the OTA roll and scope so that I can further education that I can provide to my OT’s and hopefully they can be a drop in the pond that creates that ripple effect to affect other facilities.

Extending the reflection out to any other healthcare providers specifically OT’s and OTA, but other healthcare providers can chime in, what do you think is missing to create that collaboration? What can we do as educators or supervisors of students to create that respect amongst professionals so we can realize we are all working on the same team to give the best experience in healthcare to our client?

Published by maiiflowerr

Pronouns She/Her/they/them. 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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