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7 Reasons to Attend the 2017 AOTA Conference

by Grant Mitchell MOT, OTR/L

This year's conference will be in Philadelphia!

Even as a student, AOTA conference tickets are not cheap. There is also the cost of travel and stay. It can be hard to find the time and money to go to conferences. However, the trip is well worth the price.

If you're an isolated practitioner or a student just trying to make it through, there is an energy at the conference that reminds you what you're apart of. This excitement can last longer than a week, too. If you ever begin to feel burned out of your profession, consider going to the conference. Even school can cause burnout and the AOTA conference is a great way to find that last bit of motivation to push through.

There is great benefit from going to the conference even before graduating. Here are 7 reasons why you could benefit from going to the AOTA 2017 national conference as a student or new practitioner.

  1.    Network

For some, the pressure to network can feel suffocating. If you’re not the extroverted type, you’ll find others who share those same feelings at the conference. There are people worth knowing for everyone. It’s valuable to find others who are like you and also valuable to meet people who are incredibly different.

The best part is, generally, people are open to conversation at the conference, where otherwise it might be an unsuccessful cold-email you won’t get a response to during the rest of the year. AOTA is possibly the only time you might "accidentally bump into" that author of your textbook or creator of that OT model of practice.

  1.    Continuing Ed

There is enough courses and workshops for one person to cover a full two years of continuing ed credits. The national conference is the best time of year to get the latest research and participate in workshops led by the very people who developed it. Continuing education courses range from 3D printing seminars to role-playing mental health groups. Don't forget to acquire the booklet when you arrive, but you can also download the AOTA app to get a start planning your schedule, or see what types of presentations are available.

  1.    The Inside Scoop

During the 2016 AOTA national conference, Amy Jo Lamb, president-elect, described the Vision 2025. This was not easily accessible online for months afterward. Students and practitioners could participate in educating their department on the new changes.

As a practitioner, it can be difficult keeping up with the rapidly changing healthcare system. Students are an important role in helping practitioners remain current. The conference is a great way to learn about the latest information.

  1.    Find Jobs

There is usually less small private practice businesses at the expo, but you’ll have no trouble finding the larger employers, especially the larger regional skilled nursing facility (SNF) companies.

However, in addition to booths, you may meet people aware of jobs or looking to hire as well. There is a great opportunity for traveling therapy jobs as well. Don't forget the value of those "accidental" chance meetings.

  1.    Get Trinkets

Everybody loves free stuff right? While you might get rid of half of those cheap pens, it’s always awesome to keep the fancy pens.

Okay, so maybe free pens is not a top selling point to get you to the AOTA 2017 Conference. However, there are other great trinkets. The trick is to go to the expo early and on the first days! Other trinkets include things like fidgets and cool key chains.

  1.    Test Products

Ever heard of the Jaco Robotic Arm System or the Dynavision D2? Products you may have only seen during a school lecture can often be found at the company's expo booth. You can demo the Jaco arm to fold clothes or complete a timed trial on the Dynavision D2.

It's the experience of trying equipment that helps to understand the differences in products which ranges from pediatric gym equipment, virtual reality technology, and even documentation software.

  1.    Discover Resources

Conferences are an overwhelming sensory experience, leaving you with more resources than you know what to do with. Stop by the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy booth, a free resource for accessing peer-reviewed journals post-graduation. There is usually promotional deals for NBCOT study material.

Whatever you're interested in, there are a variety of companies, organizations, and generally interesting groups to discover!

If you are still in school, you will be in no shortage of material to use for the remainder of the school year or on Fieldwork. In fact, going to the conference might make you look forward to those assignments because you will have a bag full of trinkets, pamphlets, and business cards to choose from.

Think of it this way, you have embarked on a high demand and reasonably profitable career, treat yourself to this adventure, get connected with your profession, and get to know the organization you’re a part of.


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