Lessons learned by college students take place outside the classroom as well as inside as a group of occupational therapy students from OTC recently learned.
Nearly two dozen students traveled to Jefferson City last month to participate in “OT on the Hill Day.”
This was a day of advocacy sponsored by the Missouri Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA) that included students meeting with legislators to discuss the profession and the impact federal and state health laws impact their chosen profession.
“The OTA students and faculty learned that advocating for the profession of occupational therapy is a vital component of working in today’s healthcare market,” said Becky Jenkins, program director for OTCs occupational therapy assistant program.
Cameron Biggs, a first-year OTA student, said he was hoping to convince legislators to expand Medicare for adults in the state
“They vote on the laws and they can help us change what happens in our field of work,” he said.
All of the students said the experience was eye-opening and a great learning experience.
Local state representative Lincoln Hough was really into OTA along with many other legislators who told the students who keep in touch with them.
“They were very receptive. They made us feel like friends. They were not intimidating,” said Kyla Fieth, a student from Springfield.
“They wanted to talk to us. They let us tell them about our issues.”
While most legislators were receptive to the students, some were not, including one representative who told Biggs he should “give up” trying to convince legislators to accept the Affordable Care Act and expand Medicare.
“The most important lesson they learned is that they have a voice and people are listening to what they have to say, even if they are students and do not yet have a lot of experience,” Jenkins said.
Christy Gorman, a Springfield student, said the group broke the ice with legislators.
“They are people, too,” she said.
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