Do you know your role?
This past Friday, my cohort joined 6 other colleges for the annual OT/OTA Role Delineation Conference. We represented 1 of 3 OTA programs and were joined by 4 OT programs. The conference started with a presentation and lecture about OT/OTA roles as stated in the AOTA’s Standards of Practice, the ACOTE Standards and Michigan’s licensure laws. Afterwards, a panel of OTRLs and COTALs spoke about their experiences in clinical practice regarding the relationships between OTs and OTAs. It was a very interesting discussion, and honestly, a bit ego boosting to hear all these practitioners speak about how vital OTAs are in practice. It was also encouraging to hear how most of the practitioners had positive relationships that were more akin to equal team members as opposed to supervisor and supervisee. The last portion of the conference had us breaking into groups to answer questions regarding OT and OTA roles in specific scenarios. I was placed in a group with three OT students. I was surprised to hear that the other students knew nothing about the role delineations and that, in some cases, this was the first they had ever heard about it. They had no idea how much an OTA could do. The lack of education the OT students had received on this subject was surprising as these are my future “supervisors” but they don’t know what I can and cannot legally do. It was obvious that this was a similar trend in all the groups, the OTA students knew about the roles but the OT students did not. In my school, we have been taught the roles from day one and continue to learn and discuss them throughout the terms. I am curious as to why this is not the same for the OT students. It is just as important for them to know the roles as it is for us. Did anyone else have similar experiences in school? As newly graduated OTs, were you expected to supervise OTAs without knowledge of their role in the practice? And vice versa for the OTAs, did you have to educate your supervising OTs about your roles?