Muriel Driver Memorial Lecture 2013: Embracing our role as change agents

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Abstract

Background.

Given the nature of occupational therapy philosophy and practice, it is not surprising that “change agent” has been identified as one of the seven professional roles that occupational therapists fulfill.

Purpose.

This Muriel Driver lecture examines the change agent role, what it means, and what knowledge, skills, and personal qualities are necessary to be effective.

Key Issues.

Overall, relatively little has been written about the change agent role in the occupational therapy literature. Much of what does exist is implicit and often embedded in related topics, such as advocacy. An examination of literature from outside of occupational therapy uncovered four major themes about this role: (a) Change agents are insightful, reflective, and disciplined; (b) Change agents are visionary leaders and mobilizers; (c) Change agents are knowledge integrators and translators; and (d) Change agents are diplomatic interventionists who produce meaningful outcomes. These themes point to several areas of silence in the occupational therapy literature.

Implications.

Overcoming these areas of silence and moving forward will require open, challenging, and scholarly debates; reconsideration of change agent role competencies; and clear messaging that we all have the capacity to be competent and effective change agents regardless of our title or setting.

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