Graduate students in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (OT) program traveled to the state Capitol in Albany recently to meet with lawmakers about legislation and other issues affecting their profession.
Almost 50 first and second-year Hofstra students and two faculty members joined more than 300 other practitioners and students from across the state at the annual OT Advocacy Day on March 14, organized by the New York State Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
“I wanted to participate in this trip because I am very passionate about my field and I have a strong desire to become a practitioner who provides quality care,” said Kendra Smart, a second-year student from Belgrade, Maine who will graduate this May. “Although I am still in school, I felt it was my duty to advocate for laws that affect patient care and OT services”
Students campaigned for an increase in the number of outpatient visits allowed every year through Medicaid, more coverage of services rendered by OT assistants, and for passage of a bill that would increase funding for early intervention services for children, among other issues.
“There are changes in health care and in the laws affecting OT services on a regular basis, and it is imperative that students understand the legislative process and how to effectively advocate for their clients and themselves,” said Assistant Professor and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator Robin Akselrud, who accompanied the students with Assistant Professor Yu-Pin Hsu. “Participating in OT Advocacy Day provided our students with a learning experience that encompasses many of the goals of the program, including preparing them to be compassionate, evidenced-based practitioners who make a difference in their field.”
Smart said one of the highlights of the trip was meeting Assemblyman Brian Curran, who represents residents in District 21, which includes Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, and parts of several other Long Island towns. In addition to having a conversation with him about the issues, the students were also invited to visit the Assembly Chamber in the Capitol building to watch the legislative process.
Occupational therapists are health professionals who help adults and children with physical, emotional, or developmental issues or disabilities recover, improve or enhance the skills needed for participation in daily living. They work in settings ranging from schools and pediatric hospitals to community centers, rehabilitation hospitals, businesses, and nursing homes.
The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in the School of Health Professions and Human Services is a 68-credit program designed to prepare graduates to become registered and licensed occupational therapist practitioners. The full-time, on-campus program is offered weekdays and evenings, providing a sequential curriculum that integrates laboratory experiences with classroom instruction.