Occupational therapy students raise awareness about OT’s distinct value

April is OT Month, and the class of 2021 UF occupational therapy students celebrated by writing letters to the editor and to state and national policy makers about occupational therapy’s distinct value. The student’s letters drew reader’s attention by linking current events and policy issues to the role of occupational therapy. Many students advocated for the continuation of emergency measures that could have benefits to clients even after the resolution of COVID-19, including the expansion of telehealth services and the new ability of occupational therapists to open home health cases. Below are just a few examples of their advocacy success.

Regan Hamrick student photo

Published April 28, 2021

Regan Hamrick reached out to her hometown local paper…

the Panama City News Herald, to advocate for increased mental health resources for local schools in response to stressors from COVID-19. Her letter drew upon previous data that showed an increase in behavior-related referrals after the area experienced a category 5 hurricane, and called for a proactive response that included support from occupational therapists.

Jianne Apostol student photo

Published April 28, 2021

Jianne Apostol’s letter…

described how occupational therapy can lower readmission rates for those with heart failure, pneumonia and heart attack, citing research. She also raised community awareness of the Occupational Therapy Equal Access Clinic, which provides services to everyone at no cost.

Laura Sellew student photo

Published April 20, 2021

Laura Sellew's letter…

described the important role of occupational therapy in acute care in a letter published in the national online journal, American Nurse.

Allison Haines student photo

Published April 28, 2021

Allison Haines' letter…

published in the Gainesville Sun highlights occupational therapy rehabilitation for COVID-19 survivors.

Danielle Kleinberg student photo

Danielle Klienberg wrote to state Senator Stewart…

to support SB 990 Occupational Therapy as it moved through the Senate Health Policy Committee. This important bill would update the scope of practice for occupational therapy in Florida and emphasize the role of occupational therapy in improving mental health for clients. Senator Stewart sent a personalized response, in which she thanked Ms. Klienberg for her insights and advocacy.

Meaghan Fitzpatrick student photo

Meaghan Fitzpatrick received a personal phone call…

from Mary Walsh, M.S. CCC-SLP Program Specialist, from the Bureau of Exceptional Student Education in the Florida Department of Education, to discuss SB 580 Dyslexia. Ms. Fitzpatrick discussed research in which an occupational therapy-guided peer-play intervention significantly enhanced parent perceptions of executive function in their children with specific learning disabilities. Ms. Fitzpatrick also advocated to include an occupational therapist on the Dyslexia Task Force, should the bill pass.