AOTA Leadership Development Program More Experienced in Second Year
By Andrew Waite
In its second year, AOTA's leadership development program is a little older. And not just by 365 days.
Last year AOTA invited occupational therapy practitioners in middle management with 5 to 10 years of experience to apply for a new leadership development program. Although the program was a great success, AOTA leaders heard from several more seasoned managers who wanted the chance to attend in 2012. So AOTA listened.
"This year we didn't put a cap on the number of years of experience participants could have, so we ended up with a huge variety of life experience," AOTA President Elect Ginny Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA, says of "Cultivating Your Power and Influence: The AOTA Leadership Development Program for Managers," held September 11 to 13, 2012, at AOTA headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.
This year's group included participants from Alaska to Alabama working in settings from public health to pediatrics, with a range of experience levels. The complete list of participants is below.
That diversity facilitated valuable give-and-take interactions among attendees.
"Being able to network and meet some of the other therapists and get some perspectives from some of the other leaders in the profession has helped a lot," says Amy Elgin, OTR/L, senior occupational therapist, partner, and team leader at CAMCO Physical and Occupational Therapy, Inc., P.C., in Windber, Pennsylvania. "We have had a lot of small breakout groups, so just talking with other people and getting their perspective of what issues they are facing has been really helpful to me as well."
The meeting kicked off with a lecture on leading coherently led by Stoffel, and Nancy Stanford-Blair, PhD. The discussion focused on leadership formation, values, and sustainability.
AOTA President Florence Clark, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, led a seminar on power and confidence and discussed ways to empower oneself as a leader.
Sue Bowles, OTD, MVA, OTR/L, discussed her leadership story and strategies for advocating for occupational therapy within one's setting.
The group also heard from Brent Braveman, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, director of Rehabilitation Services at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, on strategic planning; Christina Metzler, AOTA's Chief Public Affairs officer, on state and federal advocacy; and AOTA's Chief Operating Officer Chris Bluhm, CPA, CAE, on AOTA membership issues and strategies.
Just as the participants were diverse, so were their reasons for applying to the program.
"Some talked about being at a crossroads in their career and needing help making some big-picture decisions at their organizations," Stoffel says. "In other cases the participants were new to their management positions and they wanted to hear more about how to be effective leaders."
Andrea Garcia, OTR, center manager; Occupational Therapy coordinator, South Region; and staff occupational therapist at Kessler Rehabilitation Center in Howell, New Jersey, applied because she has been in a management position for just 2 years and is seeking meaningful guidance. She was impressed that some participants oversee staffs of a hundred or more therapists and realized she could learn a lot from fellow attendees.
"I definitely will have more tools in the toolkit on how to approach leadership and really how to get more of a shared perspective from my staff," Garcia says. "Staffing issues are always hard as a manager, but I think this is helping me to see how to move my staff in the right direction as well as still maintaining that shared teamwork atmosphere."
AOTA believes the program will assist the profession in meeting the Centennial Vision's strategic objective of building the profession's capacity to influence and lead and will address a critical need in the profession to reinforce best leadership practices and develop the next generation of clinically based leaders.
"Leadership is invaluable for occupational therapy as a profession," says Elgin. "And this is an opportunity to develop it."
2012 AOTA Leadership Development Program for Managers Participants:
- Amy Elgin, OTR/L, senior occupational therapist, partner, and team leader at CAMCO Physical and Occupational Therapy, Inc., P.C., in Windber, Pennsylvania
- Amy Weaver, OTR, occupational therapist, director of Rehab Services at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital/Denali Center in Fairbanks, Alaska
- Andrea Garcia, OTR, center manager; Occupational Therapy coordinator, South Region; staff occupational therapist at Kessler Rehabilitation Center in Howell, New Jersey
- Astrid Gonzalez-Parrilla, OTR/L, Therapy manager at Lee Memorial Health System in Punta Gorda, Florida
- Elena Espiritu, OTR, occupational therapist II and IP OT Adult Physical Disabilities Team coordinator at University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences Systems in Chicago
- Erin Clemens, OTR/L, owner and lead therapist at Pediatric Achievements, LLC, in Montclair, Virginia
- Joe Christ, OTR, occupational therapist at the Bureau of Prisons at USMCFP (United States Medical Center for Federal Prisons) in Springfield, Missouri
- June Weckler, OTR, manager of Occupational and Physical Therapy at Chicago Public Schools in Blue Island, Illinois
- Justin Young, OTD, OTR/L, director of Rehabilitation Therapies at Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk, Nebraska
- Matthew Dodson, OTD, OTR/L, supervisor of Outpatient TBI Occupational Therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Rockville, Maryland
- Megan Johnke, OTR, Outpatient and Outreach Therapy supervisor at Children's Care Hospital and School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
- Nicole Scheiman, MHS, OTR/L, CLT, CKTP, CEES, clinical manager of Rehabilitation Services at Florida Hospital DeLand in DeLand, Florida
- Rachel Galant, OTR, director of Rehabilitation Services at Shriners Hospitals for Children–Chicago in Chicago
- Sarah Brown, OTR, owner/CEO, occupational therapist at Building Blocks Therapy Inc. in Rapid City, South Dakota
- Shannon Flock, OTR, director of Rehabilitation at HCR Manor Care of Wichita in Wichita, Kansas
- Shari Bernard, OTR, supervisor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation St. Mary's Hospital Acute Care Services–Mayo Clinic in Mantorville, Minnesota
- Tara Franks, COTA, regional director of Operations at Restore Management in Birmingham, Alabama