As health care professionals it is extremely important that we stay up to date on the current evidence to support the treatment approaches we are using in practice. In addition to that, we also want to make sure we are listening to the needs of the populations we are working with.
You might be asking, well how can I make sure I stay on top of all the research and evidence? And how do I make sure I hear the voices of the communities I am working with? Well there are many resources out there that can help you!
The first thing I would recommend is making sure you are subscribed to your national organization as they are constantly updating their website and disseminating new research related to your field. For example, my national organization is the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Typically, organizations have annual conferences that showcase the current evidence supporting new intervention approaches.
Next, I would also recommend you figure out if your state has any organization related to your field. Illinois has the Illinois Occupational Therapy Association (ILOTA). I personally enjoy being involved with this organization because they have local conferences that I can easily attend.
Over the years I have also come across some unique programs that have a variety of online trainings and resources for practitioners. Here are some of the ones I frequently check:
o They have several free online webinars that can be useful for individuals that are working in early intervention or are considering going into this practice setting
o AUCD offers several events and webinars open to the public
In terms of making sure you are listening to the needs of your population, I recommend building a connection with an organization that serves your target audience. For example, my area of interest is pediatrics and families. I have recently started volunteering at two community organizations that work with families of children with disabilities. With just a few sessions of interactions I have been able to identify areas of need that they have and ways in which I can assist them. One organization I want to highlight is:
1. Grupo Salto
o Grupo Salto was started back in 2005 with the intention of providing supports to Spanish-speaking families from Chicago who have a child with autism. The goal of Grupo Salto is to empower families and be advocates for change. The group meets monthly to provide educational seminars and social activities.
o They have their 1st Disabilities Conference in Spanish coming up on April 6th, 2019. There are many ways in which you can get involved to make this a successful event! Contact them via firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, although you may have completed, or are in the process of completing your educational requirements to be a health provider, there is an abundance of knowledge that we can still learn from on an everyday basis! I encourage you to read a new article, a new blog, or listen to a webinar at least once a week!