TIPS TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AOTA

Last week the tickets went on sale for AOTA 2019. It will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana and it is exciting! I have had the pleasure to attend two AOTA conferences in the past (Baltimore 2014, Chicago 2016), and can honestly recommend the experience. Not only is it a great way to complete the majority of your continuing education units (CEUs) but, it is a great environment to meet new people, get inspired, and hear the latest on occupational therapy.

The conference is quite big with approx. 1,600 occupational therapists expected to attend. It can easily become overwhelming, especially if it is your first time attending- but please don’t stress! If you are planning on attending this year you have come to the right place. Below I share several tips that will help you make the most out of your time at the conference. 

Plan ahead: Picking your educational sessions ahead of time is crucial if you want to make sure you attend the courses you are interested in. At the conference your days will go a lot smoother if you read through the catalog of educational sessions and pre-plan what session you would like to attend ahead of time. Each hour of the day has multiple sessions running simultaneously and it is easy to miss a topic you are interested in. Once you register for the conference you will receive a course catalog in the mail with the full schedule. 

Download the app: In previous years AOTA had an app available that was easily downloadable to your phone. In the app you can customize your schedule and keep track of what sessions you have attended. It is also a useful tool to get notifications such as cancellations and changes in rooms.

Dress for comfort: Business casual is always a good choice in case you are unsure of what to wear, just make sure your feet are protected. At AOTA the days are long, there is a lot of walking, and often times the seating is not the most comfortable. Wearing clothes that you feel comfortable in is crucial to ensure you make it through the day.

Bring a resume or personal information card: During the conference you will come across many individuals, schools, and companies that hire occupational therapists. It is the perfect place to network and explore options available in the world of occupational therapy. Having your resume or personal information card handy is a great way to leave others with your information for future inquiry. Also, I find it helpful to carry a small notebook to write down the contact information of individuals/companies I am interested in following up with. Of course, the notes app on your phone will do as well.

Pack lightly: This is something I learned the hard way. The Expo at AOTA is full of vendors passing out goodies and resources you will want to take home with you. It is a smart idea to double check that you leave some extra room in your luggage to fit such items in order to avoid paying an extra fee with your airline due to extra weight. 

Hope these tips help you organize your conference experience, and if you have further questions please don’t hesitate to reach out. Here are some personal photos from AOTA14 and AOTA16.

The first day is always exciting. I remember being in awe of how many OT’s were in attendance. I had never seen so many OT’s!!

Make sure not to miss the opening ceremony. It showcases all the wonderful ways OT can help individuals live a fuller life. You will leave with a  sense of pride and renewed inspiration to practice the profession.
The expo hall is a fun place to learn about what is new in OT, network, and play with the latest gadgets. 
Checking out the poster presentations is a must, as you will learn about the latest research being conducted by fellow OT’s. Very interesting conversations take place. 
Lastly, AOTA is held in different cities across the U.S. so it is always a good idea to site see as much as possible. It is the best way to wind down after a long day of learning.

To register for AOTA 2019 visit: AOTA Annual Conference & Expo

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