Kent State’s OTA Students Attend National ConferencePosted Oct. 24, 2011
In September, 22 students from Kent State University at East Liverpool’s occupational therapy assistant program, along with 13 faculty and staff members, participated in the Occupational Therapy Association’s Hill Day. Kent State East Liverpool students were joined by others from across the nation, including occupational therapy practitioners. Those from Kent State East Liverpool helped form the largest group to date, which filled the Capitol’s auditorium. More than 1,300 participants joined virtually.
Program Director Harriett Bynum, program at Kent State at East Liverpool looks forward to the conference each year.
“Taking students to Washington, D.C. is a tradition for the occupational therapy assistant program,” Bynum said. “Students have the opportunity to see their national organization in action, and speak to legislative staffers about issues that affect both the profession and the patients we serve.”
Bynum values the knowledge gained by her students at the conference. “Students are able to gain a better understanding of the profession, as a whole, by seeing that there is more to OT than our classroom,” she said.
Senior Darlena Bradley said she was honored to attend the conference with her professors, and peers along with professionals from around the country. She and other students also met with politicians on issues in their field that concerned them.
Students had meetings in the offices of Ohio and Pennsylvania Representatives Bill Johnson (OH-6), Tim Ryan (OH-17), Jim Renacci (OH-16), Bob Gibbs (OH-18), Jason Altmire (PA-4), and Tim Murphy (PA-18) and Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R).
Bradley said it was a privilege to attend the conference and speak to politicians on behalf of all patients. “We had a great time, and I look forward to continuing to advocate after I graduate,” she said. “My group and I were able to share with Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman Tim Ryan's staffers on the importance of OT.”
The day began with AOTA staff, including Legislative Representative Ralph Kohl and AOTA President Florence Clark, briefing the participants on the value of advocacy and offering tips on how to be a successful lobbyist. Some basic strategies included delivering a tight, clear message and making sure to establish a personal connection.
Clark congratulated all attendees and said the volume of students committed to advocating for the profession proves a bright future.
“It’s important to let Congress know that each one of us is invested in our profession, and to let them know that we are making our country stronger by allowing our clients to live life to its fullest,” Bradley said.
Discussed were occupational therapy’s legislative priorities including eliminating the Medicare Outpatient Therapy Cap and educating Congress regarding occupational therapy as part of the health care solution. The Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act, which would repeal the Medicare Part B therapy caps, would allow practitioners to provide clients with the valuable services they need. The challenge is that repealing the caps would require Congress to spend more money now, in order to achieve long-term savings.