Occupational Therapy Influencers of Change

Those who attended the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) 2016 Annual Conference and Expo in Chicago may have heard the new AOTA President, Amy Jo Lamb, OT, highlight two of RehabVisions’ own therapists in her inaugural speech, given to a record 10,000+ attendees.

Rachel Goeser, OT

“Rachel Goeser is a new occupational therapy practitioner with RehabVisions in Valentine, Nebraska. Rachel purposefully chose to work in a rural setting because of the diversity of practice it offered her. Within her position she practices in critical access hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities. She uses occupation as a means in her practice to facilitate participation and get clients back to the things that they need to do, want to do and have to do. This under-served area did not have access to occupational therapy services until Rachel arrived. Rachel did not seek to fit in. She sought to stand out. Rachel stepped outside of her comfort zone and reached out to physicians, nurses and nursing home administrators, educating them on the value of occupational therapy with their clients. In her first seven months of practice, Rachel is an influencer of change as she worked to bring access to OT to this community and enhance the quality of life of those that she serves.” – Amy Jo Lamb, OT & AOTA President

Rachel says it was an honor to be thought of as a practitioner resisting the status quo, and to have her story shared by AOTA’s new president. “Hopefully [my story] will inspire other occupational therapy students to work in rural health care in areas that have not had the opportunity to have an OT before.”

Shelly Hefner, OT

“Shelly Hefner is an occupational therapist with six years of experience and currently working in a skilled nursing facility in Iowa. She is an influencer of change and active participant in an interprofessional team, working to provide quality care to clients that she serves—and she serves as the primary occupational therapist in her facility. Occupation is the focus of Shelly’s daily practice, where she prioritizes the occupations of her clients’ needs to be able to compete rather than solely working on preparatory methods. Shelly has found more success with clients when focusing on meaningful occupation and grading them as appropriate to facilitate progress toward their goals. Shelly promotes occupational therapy throughout the facility with staff, with clients and with families. She regularly attends nursing meetings and provides education about what occupational therapy is and how it can help residents of the skilled nursing facility, and teaches them how to identify signs for when residents might benefit from occupational therapy services. Shelly has had challenges along the way. With a relatively small therapy space she has learned to be very creative and utilize all areas of the facility in order to provide client-centered occupation-based practice therapy sessions. Shelly is an influencer of change using AOTA’s evidence-based practice resources and good working relationships with her colleagues to facilitate quality of care for her clients and achieve better outcomes.” – Amy Jo Lamb, OT & AOTA President


Congratulations, Rachel and Shelly, for your accomplishments and recognition as occupational therapy influencers of change!


You can find the full 2016 inaugural presidential address, and other sessions, on the AOTA website.





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