Assignment: Occupational Therapists

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Assignment: Occupational Therapists

Assignment: Occupational Therapists

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I address you today with a sense of pride and great thanks for your recognition for this most singular honor. I am also thankful for the opportunity to have experienced the year of growth the responsibility of this honor imposed. I hope to share with you my perspective of occupational therapy and its position in the health system. Occu-

pational therapists’ tremendous commitment to Man and to his ability to shape his destiny through activity and accomplishment puts us in a very favorable position because we provide a service that the health care sys- tem is reorganizing to assure it is delivered. Our responsibility as a profession is to implement a broader per- spective of health care delivery—one that places its values on individuals as they accept the responsibility for their own health status. To accomplish this task, I want to lead you through a process of assessment, recognition, and strategy develop-

ment. For my framework, I will use the process each of us uses daily in our service delivery.

The Referral Has Been Received

“The health care system must be directed at improving the health of the American people by encouraging health, providing constructive behavior and improving the effectiveness of our medical care system” (1, p. iii). This man- date (our referral) came from President Jimmy Carter in his introductory remarks in the Department of Health, Edu- cation, and Welfare’s publication Health and United States, 1978 (1).

The Problems Requiring Management. 1. High quality health care at a reasonable cost is often inaccessible. 2. Health care is beyond the means of many. 3. The system is focusing on hospital acute care rather than ambulatory and preventive care. 4. Technology has been exploited. 5. There is poor distribution of medical personnel. 6. Human beings are not allowed to control their own health status (2). The Goal. Organize and humanize the system. Requested Service. Develop a plan for implementation to effect change as quickly and as simply as possible. To meet this challenge our profession must develop a plan—thus we need a “treatment plan.” We always perform an assessment before establishing a plan. Only when we have a sense of the total picture can

we have vision. The health care system is very complex and involves many characters. Our first process, that of assess- ment, involves seeking to understand each of the characters and their contributions to the current health care dilemma.

1980 Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture

Occupational Therapists Put Care in the Health System

Carolyn Manville Baum, MA, OTR, FAOTA


Originally published 1980 in American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 34, 505–516.

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