Advocacy is an essential part of OT practice. It ensures that OT remains a relevant, covered service for the various populations we serve. It is best practice to advocate for the goodwill of your clients, supporting measures that enhance a specific community or your area as a whole. Everyone can be an advocate and needs to be taking action on a regular basis. We'll touch more on this later.
Some people hold the view that individuals don't need to advocate because AOTA is taking care of that. Obviously, if you read the previous paragraph, you know that I don't agree with the first half of that statement. So let's talk about AOTA's role in advocacy.
AOTA employs excellent lobbyists and policy analysts. These individuals work very hard at a state and national level to monitor legislation that is introduced, analyze potential impact to OTs, and take action to promote our interests. Seriously, these people are awesome at what they do, and I have worked with them numerous times at a state level.
They don't work for free.
(And money from your AOTA membership cannot be used for political action. It's a law.)
This is why you must contribute to AOTPAC. Only the political action committee can use funds to advocate for OT at this level. These funds also support the online tools linked above that allow for practitioners to keep up to date on the issues, and support occupational therapists who are running for any elected office (from school board to POTUS). If you have any doubts about AOTPAC, I would encourage you to talk to Paul Fontana, who gives one of the most engaging talks on the importance of advocacy and support.
As my one teacher said, no one expects you to spend all your time meeting with the legislators, but you should financially support those that do. And a donation does not have to be epic to be purposeful. I challenge you to take this month and set aside a small amount every Tuesday. By skipping one latte or lunch out each week, $5 is easy to save. If you eat dinner out multiple times each week, cutting back once can save you $25. I challenge every reader to save $20-$100 this month, and donate it to AOTPAC.
Let's make it happen!