In a robust display of advocacy, 21 students from Monmouth University’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program, under the leadership of John Patro, OTD, OTR/L, associate professor and chair of the Occupational Therapy Department, marked their presence at the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Hill Day on Sept. 29.
Every year, AOTA’s Hill Day brings together occupational therapy (OT) professionals and students from across the nation to the heart of the country’s legislative arena. Patro said the day is dedicated to amplifying the voices of OT professionals and students, ensuring that policymakers are well-informed about the profound impacts of occupational therapy on individuals and communities. The event underscores the profession’s pivotal role in enhancing the quality of life and enabling people to lead fulfilling lives.
This year, the delegation from Monmouth University, consisting of Patro and senior OTD students, held strategic meetings with legislators and their representatives from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Their advocacy efforts were particularly centered on the Empower Act and the Telehealth Act, both of which are aimed at broadening access to services for people, groups, and populations across all ages.
Patro said Monmouth University’s participation in the event underscores its dedication to molding future leaders in the OT profession. “AOTA’s Hill Day is more than just a day of advocacy. It’s a rite of passage for our OTD students, offering them invaluable insights into the broader landscape of our profession and the essential role of advocacy in shaping it. It’s an experience that will undoubtedly shape their professional journey, reminding them always of the larger purpose they serve,” he said.