Elizabeth Harris’ February 18th article on Occupational Therapy’s sharp increase was a great post holiday season, get the first quarter of 2015 off to a great start, marketing dream come true. But, it is not enough to simply share the article on your website, or Facebook page. This well written and pretty spot on article offers many platforms upon which to market your OT services, or introduce a new segment of what you may want to offer in the future. So instead of just posting the article, I decided to offer some suggestions on how you may want to use the article as a platform, or springboard in your practice.
As discussed, the demand for OT services in the school systems in NY, Chicago, and probably other major cities is up sharply because more special needs students are entering the system, there is a “new” approach to educating these students, and there are increased academic demands on all young children.
When demand for a service or commodity is up, historically, supply is down. When supply is down – the value of the supply that exists becomes more valuable. Thus, this is a great time to offer your services in general, and when possible, to make sure you are being paid enough. If you are not in a contract with a locked in fee, and have not received a raise in a while, now is the time to ask for one. Underserved areas desperately seeking OTs may be amenable to offering perks for your commitment to them – think about what you might want in addition to salary.
There are several undertones in the article- Remember, everyone can benefit from OT, but not everyone needs it.
The increased demand is fueled in part by those students receiving OT who may not really need it – this creates a secondary opportunity to be the OT who can first help evaluate and weed out those receiving inappropriate or unnecessary services, and then offer alternatives to individual services like targeted small groups, or structured home programs. Many times, inexperienced OTs are working in the school system, and do not have the expertise needed to be able to fully differentiate who needs OT or not. This is a great time for the well seasoned therapist to step up to the plate, and show why their input is crucial in this situation. A school system paying more for your expertise in this area will wind up saving more in the end by not having to fund unnecessary OT services.
OT as a means to catch up or a means to get ahead
The article discusses that as the academic expectations for young children increase, some children are not up to snuff developmentally to meet the challenge. What was not mentioned in the article but what many of us know to be true is that as 3 and 4 -year-olds in classrooms are exposed to pre academic demands, many more distracted kids will catch a teacher’s attention. What is behavior versus sensory issues in children should come to the forefront. There is no better professional than a well versed OT to address this and offer consulting services to help differentiate between the two. What a great time to have OTs observe in the classroom and make recommendations generally for the classroom, and specifically for particular students. Consultations can be offered at the start of a school year and then periodically on an as needed basis.
Parents are tapping into occupational therapy services to enhance the performance of their children, with or without special needs. As healthcare in general transitions from a service model of sickness to wellness, prevention, and enhancement this is an opportunity for those OTs who may opt to work, not with special needs children but with any group of children who want to enrich their skills. This article cries out for OTs to set up readiness programs. Whether it is readiness for pre school, readiness for inclusion classrooms, or readiness for private school admission interviews and tests, the ball is clearly in the OTs court.
So do more than just passively post this article, USE it as an active vehicle to help promote your particular skill set and services.