Is it really almost February?
Is it really almost February? What happened to January? When I look back on the month, I realize now that I had a whole series of flow experiences during which I used my knowledge and skills to their full capacity, became totally engaged and fully invested in what I was doing, and ultimately lost track of time. Flow is a construct described by psychologist Csikszentmihalyi. It occurs when one is so entirely immersed in an experience or activity that sense of time is lost.
If you were to hang out in the hallway outside of my office, you might wonder how I could ever achieve flow in my job, given the number of individual interruptions I have in a typical day. Yet, I find that the exciting things that are happening around the School of Rehabilitation Therapy fully engage my attention and have me ending most days wondering “is it already 5 o’clock?” Let me tell you about some of the activities that have been focusing my attention in this first month of 2018.
This year, both the physical therapy and occupational therapy programs are in accreditation mode. The physical therapy program is submitting its self-study paperwork in a few weeks, while the occupational therapy program will submit its paperwork over the summer. Accreditation is a critical, external validation of the organization and quality of a program and a way through which we obtain constructive feedback from peers about how to do even better. Preparing self-study documentation provides the opportunity to reflect on our strengths, our limitations, and to come together to make decisions about how we want to change. The discussions and writing provide many opportunities for flow experiences.
On May 1st, we will launch the first professional doctoral program at Queen’s University, and the first degree of its kind in Canada: the Doctor of Science in Rehabilitation and Health Leadership. We have been working on the development of this program for over 3 years. Now it is real. We have applications to review, on-line courses in development, and an amazing competency framework finalized. The work that has occurred to get to this point has been exhilarating, and I cannot wait to select the students and meet them all in May. The time I block in my calendar to work on this program have become my favourite hours of each week because I get so immersed in the thinking and discussion about the program and courses that time just disappears.
Six months ago, I was granted a second term as Director of the School. With this mandate, I launched a strategic planning process in collaboration with faculty, staff and other stakeholders to examine our directions and set goals for our next 5 years. We have been working with a company that specializes in strategic planning in the health and education sectors, and we are coming up to a series of meetings that will set our plan for moving forward. Shifting back and forth between setting our vision for the future and making tactical plans to achieve the vision requires significant focus. I look forward to sharing with you the results of this process in a future blog.
Csikszentmihalyi  suggests that flow is a relatively rare experience, as it requires several preconditions – clear goals, a balance between perceived challenges and perceived skills, immediate feedback. Accreditation, our new program, and our strategic planning provide all of these elements. While I jump back and forth across these tasks and many others, having early flow experiences in 2018 is certainly starting the year in a strong and inspiring way.
 Csikszentmihalyi M., Abuhamdeh S., Nakamura J. (2014) Flow. In: Flow and the Foundations of Positive Psychology. Springer, Dordrecht. pp 227-238