Occupational Therapy Awareness Month
April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, a time set aside to celebrate the work of unique healthcare workers who help clients return to full lives. Governors State University Professor Frank Czuba, said he hopes to also educate the public on what is means to work in a profession often confused with professional occupations.
He said education begins with the definition of OT.
“Occupational therapy is the art and science of fostering mindful engagement in activities and meaningful occupations to enhance clients’ performance, ability, and quality of life," Czuba said.
With that in mind, Czuba offers the top five ways GSU OT graduates are empowered to help clients achieve healthy, meaningful lives.
1. Meaningful Engagement.
What makes Occupational Therapy unique is that it is built on the premise that every little thing we do each day —from driving a car to brushing our teeth to getting coffee — is engaging in occupation. All those activities are little occupations that help maintain your health and enjoy life. Our students learn to help clients to get back to doing what makes life meaningful.
2. Diversity in Learning.
Governors State provides choice and variety in the learning strategies for a diverse student body. This is not just about race, ethnicity, and gender. It is the way we engage neurodiversity, the way we learn, and move away from neurotypical standards. It’s a priority at the University from inclusion to belonging. Our OT program builds diversity into our philosophy to empower all learners to succeed.
3. Research-based practice.
We use evidence-based practice for empowering clients to meet life goals. It is important that students can back up what they are doing with clients with research. We require students to do a full-blown research project – to design, develop and implement research and disseminate outcomes. The evidence that supports the work we do is important to motivate clients.
4. Playing to Strengths
We train students to engage a client-centered, strength-based approach. This allows clients to build on areas where they are already strong. When I talk to clients and accentuate the areas where they are strong, you can see them lift up. It motivates and empowers them.
5. Preparing Advocates.
Leadership is an area that really makes GSU stand out and is a passion of mine. I now serve as co-chair of a committee of our professional association – the Administration and Management Special interest Section of the Illinois Occupational Therapy Association. We bring in guest speakers and provide networking opportunities. Some OT students volunteer with the group helping with research. This helps them to see themselves as advocates and leaders in a profession that is not that well understood and will ultimately help clients lead healthy, meaningful lives.