Occupational therapy students visit national lawmakers during D.C. trip
From left: Yen Tran, Amy Sullins, Jennifer Garza and Jessica Lawrence
Washington, D.C.— Four Texas Woman’s University occupational therapy graduate students recently attended Hill Day in Washington, D.C., to advocate and educate lawmakers on occupational therapy. Occupational therapists help those with physical, mental or cognitive disorders to develop, recover or maintain daily living and work skills. Occupational therapists also help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).
Jennifer Garza, Amy Sullins, Jessica Lawrence and Yen Tran were the only occupational therapy students representing Texas to participate in the event Sept. 28 and were among 600 occupational therapy students and professionals from the U.S. to visit the nation’s capitol. They are all master of occupational therapy students at the TWU T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences-Dallas Center.
They met with national congressional leaders and state representatives, including U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), John Cornyn (R-TX), and U.S. Representatives Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30), and John Ratcliffe (R-TX-4). The students advocated specifically for occupational therapists’ recognition as mental health professionals, and the need for staying abreast of research based evidence to incorporate into their practice. These topics coincide with the Occupational Therapy in Mental Health Act and the Research in Rehabilitation Act — both of which have bi-partisan support.
Tran, a former attorney, spoke about the importance of occupational therapy and the need for more visibility in its role in mainstream health, particularly mental health and rehabilitation research. “It's so important for students to be involved in the legislative process,” she said. “Our representatives take the time to listen to us, not only as occupational therapy professionals, but as constituents."
The four TWU students plan on attending a similar Hill Day in Austin in early 2016. For more information about the Occupational Therapy Hill Day, visit www.aota.org.
U.S. News and World Report ranks TWU’s graduate program in occupational therapy 15th in the nation and the university is among the top producers of occupational therapists in the nation. For more information about TWU’s occupational therapy program, visit www.twu.edu/occupational-therapy/.