Keeping Yourself Dynamic
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L
It seems as if no matter what realm of life we look at, we feel as if it is running out of control. Whether it is the household chore list, the ongoing paperwork and treatment planning at work, or maintaining our children’s activity schedule, there just seem to be no break or slowdown. On top of all of that, we are challenged in our careers to keep our skills current with policies, treatment methods and new research. This in itself can be overwhelming, and is needed regardless of how many years of experience we have under our belt.
As therapists, just as our experience changes, so does our need for continuing education. However, we need to keep in mind that this need never lessens and is very critical—and not only because of state standards. To be the most effective caregivers, we need to stay abreast of what is happening in our field as well as treatment options and methods that are available. The means for how we achieve these skills and gain this knowledge can be found in a variety of places. From taking on-site courses to attending conferences to even participating in or performing research, there are so many ways for us to stay connected and improve our knowledge bases long after we leave the classroom.
Networking is another key component to keeping our therapy skills current. Working with community resources that are offered for our students and clients, as well as having working relationships with other therapists and other treatment environments, only helps us to improve and increase what we can offer the individuals we work with.
As newer therapists, we find that there are so many learning opportunities, and basically anything we attend increases our knowledge base. In addition, we find that listening to therapists who are more experienced offers us suggestions as well as support for what we are doing in our own work environments.
Intermediate therapists often find it more difficult to find courses and ways to continue our education. Many courses seem too basic, while others are too advanced, leaving us right in the middle. This stage is a great time to think outside the box of continuing education, really focusing on networking as a way to take the initiative on learning new things. In addition, participating in continuing education, whether on site or online, will also help reinvigorate us as therapists. This stage as a therapist is a good time to use our skills for working with students and in the education realm.
Advanced therapists are really needed to be the forerunners for all of us, leading continuing education and research initiatives as well as making sure to remain open to new therapy concepts and treatment options.
Regardless where you are as a therapist, here are a few key things to look for when choosing continuing education:
- Find a topic that is both of interest and can be useful and beneficial for your practice area.
- Choose courses, whether online or in person, that are presented by individuals who are qualified on the topic.
- Use continuing education opportunities as a way to network and converse with therapists who have more experience, or be the therapist who offers assistance to newer therapists.
- Keep an open mind to learning new concepts and approaches.
- Use state and national conferences as a way to see current research topics and ideas, check out new therapy items, and stay abreast of cutting-edge knowledge.
We all need to stay tuned in and dynamic to be exceptional therapists, regardless of our treatment environment and skill level.