Hey there! My name is Crystal Johnson. I’m in my 20s, and I am born and raised in Florida. By the time you read this, I will have just finished up my Capstone experience with Amplify OT and attained my Doctorate in Occupational Therapy. Keep reading to learn more about my 14-week experience with Clarice Grote, founder, and CEO of Amplify OT.
Advocacy Capstone Experience
The purpose of the capstone experience is for each student to have an individual learning experience based on their personal goals. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently, my personal goals were to dive into something entirely foreign to me.
Now let me give you a little bit of my perspective; I am someone who has avoided anything about the news and the government my entire life because I don’t like controversy. I like to remain in my happy little bubble that I created for myself. Well, I wanted to learn more about how to advocate for occupational therapy, so my capstone coordinator suggested that I look more into the federal level and understand government and policy. I could immediately feel the anxiety rise in my body.
Politics and policy were areas I was completely unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. At that moment, with my heart racing and the fear of being entirely ignorant, I felt the only logical thing for me to do was tackle it head-on, and boy, am I glad that I did!
Why Amplify OT?
How I landed a spot working with Clarice Grote, founder of Amplify OT, is what I can only describe as a small miracle that comes with perfect timing. I searched online and reached out to numerous individuals, community businesses, large corporations, and non-profits, asking if they were willing to mentor me for my capstone experience.
I quickly found that my mission to find a fulfilling capstone experience that also met the requirements were going to be more challenging than I originally anticipated. In April of 2022, just two months before I was scheduled to begin my capstone, I attended my first AOTA conference in San Antonio, Texas. I still didn’t have a placement for my experience, and I was stressing… hard.
During the conference, I went to an advocacy workshop to learn more about what is involved in advocating and to hopefully make some connections. I introduced myself to the speakers and asked for recommendations on finding a placement. Little did I know, Clarice was also standing in line to speak with the presenters and happened to be looking for opportunities to take on her first capstone student.
We had a conversation and realized that we were exactly who the other person was looking for. I wanted to learn more about policy and advocacy and better understand the government’s role in our profession. Clarice helped me achieve my goals and those required by ACOTE. This is an instance where I can look back at my efforts to make other connections that didn’t work out and say, “everything happens for a reason.”
What I Learned During My Advocacy Capstone
Working with Clarice, I learned more than I could have ever anticipated. I learned about Medicare, how to advocate, the process of federal legislation and how policy works, the meaning of value-based care, and so much more.
I also learned about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and run your own business. This included marketing strategies, effective social media posting, website design, video editing, content creation, email lists, targeting your ideal clients, and many miscellaneous pieces I hadn’t thought about before.
This experience was invaluable to me; I gained skills I would have never had time to explore while being a full-time clinician. I now feel confident that I can advocate for my clients and myself, understand policy, and communicate it effectively. If I’m unsure about any information, I know how to find what I’m looking for without wasting time.
Initially, I didn’t think I would be working with an occupational therapist for my capstone experience. Finding Clarice was like striking gold. I have learned from an expert in policy and advocacy that I share the same heart, passion, and mindset as a future occupational therapist.
Thank you, Clarice, and Amplify OT, for your mentorship and this amazing opportunity. You have impacted me in such a positive way, I could never thank you enough. I will always speak up and speak often!
Advice for Current and Future Clinicians
Are you curious about policy and advocacy and think you may want to learn more? I know it may seem scary at first, but I can assure you that it isn’t as intimidating as it seems. Getting involved is the first step. Much like fieldwork, you aren’t expected to know everything.
Understanding policy information comes with repetition over time. Before you know it, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge, and you can help make a difference. Understanding policy is extremely important and can really make an impact in our profession. Remember that you are an OT and an expert in task analysis, so who better than you to get involved?!
A Note from Clarice:
Crystal was a fantastic student and integral in creating the course we are now calling the Mastering OT Policy & Medicare Course. She is bright, a fast learner, and motivated to take on challenges. I could not have accomplished this project without her; she has a bright future ahead of her. Thank you for your hard work, Crystal!
If you or one of your students is interested in completing a capstone experience with me, please contact me. Unfortunately, at this time I am unable to accommodate a fieldwork student.