Occupational therapy students raise awareness of policy influencing patient centered outcomes and OT’s role in quality care

April is OT Month, and the class of 2024 UF occupational therapy students celebrated by writing letters to the editor and to state and national policy makers about occupational therapy. Third year students were encouraged to identify a current event (national, state, or local) and link the practice and/or value of occupational therapy to this event, or, frame their letter as a celebration of OT month (April). The student’s letters drew reader’s attention by linking current events and policy issues to the role of occupational therapy. Many students chose to express their opinions on the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, licensure portability, the Occupational Therapy Mental Health Act, the Mental Health Professionals Workforce Shortage Loan Repayment Act, OT’s role in women’s health, pelvic, and postpartum health, the importance of occupational therapy practitioners in the state of Florida being recognized as qualified mental health associates/providers (QMHA/P), the Expanded Telehealth Access Act, and the importance of recognizing the work of occupational therapy practitioners across all clinical practice settings and populations. Below are just a few examples of their advocacy success.

Clare Redrick student photo

Published April 5, 2024

Clare Redrick reached out to her hometown local paper…

the Citrus County Chronical, to educate her community on the profession of occupational therapy. Her letter drew upon the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework and aimed to clear up common misconceptions about the profession.

Krista Taylor student photo

Published April 18, 2024

Krista Taylor wrote a letter to the editor of her hometown newspaper…

Clay Today, to share how the profession defends the dignity of each client by viewing them through a lens that emphasizes strengths, adaptability and purpose. Her letter drew upon research supporting occupational therapy as the only spending category linked to lowering hospital readmission rates in populations including heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction.

Jessica Goldman student photo

Published April 21, 2024

Jessica Goldman wrote an article to inform the local community in her hometown of Jacksonville…

through The Florida Times-Union Newspaper. Jessica championed the role of occupational therapy practitioners, stating, "our value in healthcare is unmistakable and our impact on patients’ lives is life-changing.” She additionally shared evidence on the need for education related to occupational therapists’ scope and role amongst healthcare professionals, medical students, and the general public.

Gianna Martello student photo

Response on April 4, 2024

Gianna Martello contacted Senator Marco Rubio to ask for…

a halt on the cut to Medicare payments for occupational therapy services that went into effect in 2024 and to put payments made through the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule on a sustainable path.

Gina Froehlich student photo

Response on April 24, 2024

Gina Froehlich contacted Senator Rick Scott and Representative Byron Donalds to ask for…

support of Medicare beneficiaries’ access to occupational therapy services. Gina specifically outlined that without Congressional action, occupational therapy practitioners will receive a 9.2% cut to Medicare payments over 4 years. She asked for support of policies such as H.R. 6683, the Preserving Seniors’ Access to Physicians Act, which would stop the payment cuts for 2024, and policies such as those in H.R. 2474, the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act, which would update the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule each year to keep up with medical inflation.

Several students received personalized communications back from the offices of Governor Ron DeSantis, Senator Rick Scott, and Senator Marco Rubio.