Michael Urban, OTD, MBA, M.S., has been a devoted member of the American Occupational Therapy Association for more than a decade, and he was recently elected to serve as speaker of the organization’s representative assembly. He looks forward to the new opportunities he will have to continue to serve the profession he is passionate about.
June 22, 2022
Before Michael Urban, OTD, MBA, M.S., pursued a career in occupational therapy, he shadowed an occupational therapist and saw just how much of a difference they could make in people’s lives. When he became a professional and a leader in the field in his own right, he saw firsthand just how much of an impact he could make.
A senior lecturer and director of the University’s Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program, Dr. Urban has also served as a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) for more than a decade. He was recently elected by a vote by the representative assembly members to serve as speaker of the AOTA’s representative assembly.
“I was excited, especially with all the changes in our profession and in healthcare, to be elected to serve in this leadership role,” he said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to not only shape an organization, but to also shape the profession that I’m devoted to and that I am so passionate about.”
‘I want to empower occupational therapists’
Dr. Urban, who is currently vice speaker for the assembly, begins his term on July 1. He was recently sworn in for a term that will be 1-3 years, depending on upcoming changes to the organization’s bylaws.
As speaker, Dr. Urban will serve as chair of the representative assembly, which oversees the professional policies and standards for the organization. He will also have a seat on the board of directors that oversees the everyday functions of AOTA.
Founded more than 100 years ago, AOTA represents the professional interests of more than 200,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students across the country. It advances the profession by offering resources and setting standards, such as accreditations, and by advocating for improvements in healthcare.
“It’s a great organization – they’re dedicated and open minded,” he said. “They’re focused not just on the profession but on humanity, on making sure people can engage in everyday living. It is a pivotal time right now for healthcare, and I am excited to help modernize the organization to support the profession.”
Excited to help make an even greater impact on the profession through his work with AOTA. Dr. Urban will be a leader in an organization that generates documents that guide practitioners across the country and around the world, including best practices and how they might collaborate with other disciplines.
As speaker, Dr. Urban looks forward to shaping the profession and preparing for the future. His goal is to address current issues while also looking five to 10 years into the future.
“I want to empower occupational therapists to be out there, and to get us more involved,” he said. “This is especially important with issues such as gun reform and mental health. Sometimes, people don’t realize the value we can bring, so bringing our profession to the forefront is critical.”
‘At the forefront of the field’
Dr. Urban, who has served the profession for nearly two decades, was previously president of the Connecticut Occupational Therapy Association. Passionate about making a difference in the lives of the individuals he treats, he has also served as the chief of prosthetics for the Department of Veteran Affairs.
“What I enjoy the most is watching people overcome something,” he said. “Whether I am watching a child with autism tie their shoes or watching a senior who might’ve been told they can’t go home be able to return home and live independently or with assistance, I think that’s the most rewarding thing.
“Watching people recover from what could be devastating life-altering injuries go back to what they need to do is remarkable,” he continued. “I’ve sent firefighters back to the line of service from what could have been career-ending injuries, full duty and without restrictions, back to saving lives. I’ve also been able to do that for members of our military. That fulfillment, that reward, is always there.”
Dr. Urban is excited about the opportunities his new role will create for his students while enhancing the visibility of the University and the Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program. A dedicated educator, he looks forward to discussing his work with the organization with his students.
“It gives our students a firsthand look that will help them understand more clearly what the profession’s doing,” said Dr. Urban, who also has a background in quality management. “I strive to be a good role model for the students and demonstrate what it means to give back to the profession and why that is valuable. The fact that I have this role in the organization means I am at the forefront of the field, and the students will benefit greatly from that.”