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Paediatric occupational therapists work so hard to maintain their skills and provide the best services to the children and families with whom they work. Kids Play Space is delighted to bring you a guest post from a wonderful, innovative, occupational therapist: Colleen Beck, of The OT Toolbox!
Aside from the practical tips Colleen outlines below for occupational therapists keen to brush up their reflection skills, I can’t wait for you to check out The OT Toolbox Community – a free, global, professional resource you will want to sign up to today! (All OTs – not just paediatric therapists!) If you are thinking, “I love the idea, but just don’t have time for this!”, I can tell you, Colleen is a champion time manager and an excellent example of an OT maintaining best practice, so if you are after the ‘good oil’… this is it!
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For the occupational therapist, clinical experience develops over time. This occurs through learning on the job and applying experiences to situations. Adding evidence-based information into clinical needs and using research-based strategies is another important piece to clinical experience. As therapists, we strive to develop and grow our clinical expertise. However, there can be challenges to professional development; time, cost, energy, geographic location, and limited networking opportunities can interfere with professional growth. One way to overcome these challenges is to make individual professional development a priority by reflecting on clinical experiences.
Time is a struggle for most therapists. Between full caseloads, continuing education needs, meetings, documentation, billing…reflecting on a clinical experience can be put to the bottom of the list of must-do tasks. However, reflecting on clinical experiences can be a valuable means of developing clinical experience.
Use the strategies below to develop as an occupational therapy professional through reflection on clinical experiences and applying clinical knowledge to your practice.
Ways for an Occupational Therapist to Reflect on Clinical Practice
- Small focus groups- Therapists can collaborate with other therapists in a related field or through on-the-job team meetings while chatting and discussing clinical observations and experiences. Having a specific question as well as outlining and strategies that worked or didn’t work can be an efficient means for discussing and reflecting on intervention strategies. Small groups can be away for therapists to grow and develop together as a group.
- Brainstorm sessions related to the evidence- Attaining evidence-based resources and brainstorming out intervention strategies related to the science based on specific clinical needs can be one means of reflecting on experiences within the clinic. This can be a strategy to apply evidence to future intervention strategies. Brainstorm out strategies related to the evidence in a notebook. This would be a valuable resource for sharing with other therapists on a small team or with coworkers who interact with clients. Perhaps a regular meeting with other therapists or an email session with a small group can be a helpful way to reflect and then apply research toward clinical needs.
- Networking with other therapists- A collaboration session with other therapists where a reflection on a clinical experience could occur through networking with neighboring clinics. An email to reach out to local therapists and a round-table setting could be one way to reflect. By collaborating with other therapists, it is possible to apply the experience of others to future intervention strategies. One challenge related to this strategy is geographical limitations where therapists work in a location without other nearby clinics.
- Professional journal- Having a space to jot down thoughts related to experiences on the job is a way to develop goals as an occupational therapist. A professional journal can be used to develop and reflect on experiences within the clinic. Using clinical experiences along with research and sources of information found online can be a helpful strategy for brainstorming out future strategies related to a specific clinical question or need.
- Online groups- Having access to a small group online is one way to reflect on clinical experiences as an occupational therapist. A specific thought process or question can be brought to a specific meeting session. Therapists can then reflect on clinical questions and base discussion on the collaborative conversation of the online group. An online forum or Facebook group is one means of collaborating together to answer and reflect on clinical experiences. A downside to online groups is the occasional lag in answers, especially in a forum type of setting.
- Time block– Setting aside a short period of time at the end of each day or once a week to reflect on clinical experiences can be a valuable asset for therapists. Jotting down notes related to experiences can be beneficial. That time can then be used to brainstorm future intervention strategies. Taking a small period of time to complete online searches related to to finding the evidence related to a specific clinical question could be a valuable asset for therapists to strive to reflect and boost professional development. Use a timer to block off 10 to 15 minutes in order to focus on a question while brainstorming out possible intervention strategies. This strategy can sometimes yield answers that you may not think of while on the job within a busy clinic.
- Brain dump– A “brain dump” is a strategy for seeing the big picture of a situation and capturing any small details that may have been missed. To perform a brain dump, you’ll need a fresh piece of paper, a pen, and a single question. Write out all details related to the question and list out any possible details and related information. A brain dump can be a valuable strategy for getting all of the thoughts “out” of the brain and onto a single piece of paper. It’s a tool for finding answers and strategies that may not have thought of previously.
Reflecting on clinical experiences is a powerful tool for advancing as an occupational therapy professional. There are positive and negative aspects to each method outlined above, as well as limitations. That’s part of the reason why The OT Toolbox Community was developed!
Based from The OT Toolbox website, The OT Toolbox Community promotes clinicians as a valuable “tool” for clients. By connecting and collaborating with other therapists, it is possible to exponentially enhance and promote the profession.
The OT Toolbox Community can be a means of networking with other therapists while allowing clinicians to bounce ideas off of one another. In the OT Toolbox Community, therapists can communicate and network with one another while asking and answering questions.
The OT Toolbox Community is a free resource for occupational therapy practitioners who struggle to find valuable resources in a timely and efficient manner. Seeking out answers to clinical questions can be a huge limit when it comes to time, energy, cost, and other issues.
The OT Toolbox Community provides a resource for therapists to connect with one another and collaborate on clinical questions. OTs and OTAs have the opportunity to ask questions related to their specific needs. Therapists can draw on clinical expertise to respond and answer other clinicians’ questions.
Imagine if many therapists joined together in sharing years of clinical expertise and resources and put them into one tool kit. The OT Toolbox Community provides a one-stop location for navigating all of the information out there. It’s a place to access research. It’s a place to find best practice sources. It’s a place to promote collaborate, network, and mentor with one another as therapists.
The OT Toolbox Community is looking for you! Join hundreds of other occupational therapy professionals who have joined the community and are sharing questions, answers, resources, and valuable sources of clinical information.
A few facts about The OT Toolbox Community
- Members are able to upload links to valuable resources that they have located online. These can be shared with other members and searched for by category. Check out the Resource Center and add one of your own.
- Members are able to ask questions and answer questions. These are sorted by category to enable search queries in order to locate best practice answers in a timely manner. Stop over to the Question Forum and see if there is one that you can answer given your clinical expertise.
- Members can upload their own documents and files to share with other therapists. This is a huge asset for data collection screenings and other sources of information for therapists.
- Members can list job opportunities in the Job Area. Have a position open in your facility? Reach out to our large community of occupational therapy professionals and fill your positions fast!
- Have an activity that you love using in treatment sessions? Snap a picture with your phone and share it as a Blog Post. It doesn’t have to be a fancy blog post…just share your idea with the community members. Members can enhance the profession by sharing practice strategies that work!
- In The OT Toolbox Community, all links, resources, questions, comments, and blog posts can be shared anonymously if you like!
- Members can network and collaborate to enhance OT careers while building lasting relationships with colleagues.
- There are more tools coming to The OT Toolbox Community very soon: an Evidence-Based Practice Library, mentor match ups, member badges, notification systems, and messaging options are just a few of the tools coming to the community!
As therapists, we know the value of self-reflection. Now, the ability to develop and grow in personal and clinical experience is right on your screen.
Stop by and join The OT Toolbox Community! It’s a thriving source of information for occupational therapist practitioners.
Colleen is the creator and author of www.theottoolbox.com and http://community.theottoolbox.com. She is an occupational therapist who shares creative activities designed to promote the healthy development of kids. Colleen is one of the therapist authors on the Functional Skills for Kids books. You can follow The OT Toolbox on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.