Register NOW for the 2017 Annual OTAC Conference 

Posted: September 13, 2017

Register today!

The 2017 Annual OTAC Conference season has officially begun!  This year’s conference will take place at the Ameristar Casino and Resort in Black Hawk, Colorado on September 22nd and 23rd.  Attending conference is a fun way to learn about current trends and developments in occupational therapy, network with other occupational therapy practitioners, and spend time bonding with fellow colleagues who may provide new opportunities for growth or gently remind us of our abundant history.  Preparing for conference can be overwhelming, even for the most seasoned attendee.  Each week we will publish a “to-do” to best prepare for a successful project.

1. Network with Friends and Co-Workers to Encourage Attendance: Begin talking about conference now with friends and co-workers in order to drum up your own squad of attendees.  The more the merrier!  Talk to your employer about possible compensation opportunities and make sure you get that time off reserved far in advance. Consider attending one of our summer events (see otacco.org) to network with other OTAC members ahead of time.  Conference is a blast whether you brave it alone, or come in a group.  However, attending with co-workers gives the opportunity to discuss the application of “aha” moments into your own workplace.  So get out there, announce to the group that you are going and are looking for folks to share the experience. You may be surprised how conference can change the dynamic of your relationships for the better!

Conference is a wonderful opportunity to gather, engage, learn, explore, and expand yourself as a practitioner and as a professional.  By preparing ahead of time, you can make the experience an exciting and positive experience to keep you inspired throughout the year. 

2. Pack Your Water Bottle and Snacks: Attending a conference can often feel like a hurried, overwhelming experience.  Be sure to attend to your own self care needs throughout in order to maintain mental and physical stamina.  Pack high energy snacks that provide protein and complex carbohydrates, bring a water bottle, and make sure to take time out for movement breaks and to get a little fresh air.  Some people are energized by the presence of large groups while others may feel depleted by them.  Assess what your personal needs are and plan ahead so that the experience can be a positive one for you.

3. Make Necessary Travel Accommodations: Many people travel near and far to attend state conference each year as Colorado is a big place!  The Ameristar provides wonderful accommodations for attendees.  Even if you live nearby, consider staying at the hotel as a bit of a vacation away from the ordinary.  That way, you can feel rested and prepared for both days and not miss out on any of the early morning, later evening events that are planned. Talk to friends and co-workers in person and through social media to find room share opportunities. Lastly, don’t forget to pack a few extra bucks for the annual silent auction, occupational therapy spirit wear, meals, and casino time!

4. Consider Volunteering: Are you interested in taking your role within occupational therapy to another level?  Consider volunteering to become a member of the OTAC Board.  Applications are currently being accepted for the following position: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Public Policy Chair, and Membership Chair.   Elections will be announced at the annual business meeting during conference. If board membership sounds overwhelming, reach out to your friendly board members and inquire about participating in various sub-committees or events throughout the year.  Stay updated by visiting otacco.org.

5. Complete a Wardrobe Review:  While there is not set requirement for conference attire, most people dress business casual.  Make sure that you pack a comfortable pair (or two) of shoes that your feet will love from the wee hours of the morning into the evening and that can transition with your outfits from day to night.  Do you have any occupational therapy spirit wear?  Make sure you bring it!  If not, don’t worry, we will have logo wear and signature centennial t-shirts for sale at the venue.  Lastly, plan to bring a little something dressy for our centennial celebration on Friday night!

6. Prepare Note-Taking and Networking Strategies: Nothing can be more stressful than finding yourself in a class or workshop unprepared.  If you plan to use technology such as an IPAD or tablet, make sure it is fully charged, you are familiar with accessing the notes to the sessions, and have obtained any WIFI access information for the venue ahead of time. Consider using social media to live tweet or update Facebook friends about your conference experience throughout the weekend to share with others in your network.  If you are more of a pencil-paper note taker, be sure to pack extra pens and pencils and have printed out your notes prior to the session.  While the speaker may have handouts, it is always a safe bet when you bring your own.  You may consider bringing an additional notepad to jot down inspirational ideas that you can bring home to your own practice.  Lastly, don’t forget to print and bring your business cards to ensure a successful networking experience! 

7. Review Continuing Education Requirements: Now is the perfect opportunity to complete a self-audit of your personal continuing education status and reflect upon what you want to accomplish by attending conference. That way, when you are at conference, you can schedule you time in the most practical fashion.  Are you interested in learning something in a different practice area, or do you need to get an ethics requirement met?  Visit dora.gov and nbcot.org to guide your path to maintaining licensure.

8. Brush Up on Your Casino Games: Conference isn’t all about the serious stuff, it’s also about having fun!  If you don’t know the difference between a wager and a hit, use the internet to brush up on your card playing terminology.  Hold an informal card game with friends, family, or co-workers to practice your poker or black jack skills.  Or, take a practice run to the casinos to get a feel for craps or roulette.  That way, when you are sitting at the table you can flex your new found knowledge instead of busting!

9. Register Early: Early registration for this year’s conference will be opening soon! Not only will you be eligible for a discounted rate for attendance, but you can also begin to prepare for the conference in other ways without having to worry about that pesky registration deadline.  Visit otacco.org for conference updates and to register. 

10. Join OTAC: While this may seem like a “no-brainer”, make sure that your membership status is up to speed with OTAC. OTAC members are eligible for a discounted rate, voting privileges, volunteer and mentorship opportunities, and more!  While you are at it, like our page on Facebook (Occupational Therapy Association of Colorado) to stay up to speed on current events within the association.  Visit otacco.org for more information on membership.

Kelly Hicks, MS, OTR/L