John L. Margetis, Jamie Wilcox, Chelsea Thompson, Nicole Mannion; Occupational Therapy: Essential to Critical Care Rehabilitation. Am J Occup Ther 2021;75(2):7502170010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.048827
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic reshaped the health care landscape, leading to the reassignment of essential health care workers to critical areas and widespread furloughs of providers deemed nonessential, including occupational therapy practitioners. Although multidisciplinary critical care teams often include occupational therapy practitioners, efforts to define, measure, and disseminate occupational therapy’s unique contributions to critical care outcomes have been overlooked. This editorial provides recommendations to improve the occupational therapy profession’s readiness to meet society’s current and future pandemic needs. We propose a three-pronged strategy to strengthen occupational therapy clinical practice, education, and advocacy to illuminate the distinct value of occupational therapy in critical care.
Strengthen evidence-based clinical practice,
Enhance entry-level and postprofessional training, and
Promote awareness of occupational therapy practitioners’ impact on value-based health care.
Define the occupational therapy scope of practice in critical care settings.
Coordinate efforts to define, measure, and disseminate the distinct impacts of occupational therapy on patient-centered outcomes, health system outcomes, and health care utilization.
Develop special interest sections for critical care practitioners to facilitate collaboration.
Incentivize increased development of geographically diverse AOTA-sponsored fellowships that provide critical care training.
Create a national consortium of fellowship sites to bolster interfacility harmonization of training.
For professional occupational therapy organizations (e.g., AOTA) and practitioners with extensive critical care experience, host routine preconference institutes and comprehensive critical care continuing education courses for clinicians and students.
Create an exam-based specialty certification for critical care rehabilitation
Expand the literature supporting the impact of occupational therapy interventions on value-based health care and critical care outcomes.
Foster collaborative partnerships between occupational therapy hospital departments and clinical outcomes researchers.
Expand lobbying opportunities to elevate the visibility of occupational therapy practitioners in critical care settings.
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