Clarice Grote, MS, OTR/L

Clarice Grote, MS, OTR/L

Take Action to Pass the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act!

**Update: Allied Health Workforce Diversity Bill passed out of Energy & Commerce Committee**

In light of Dr. Wilburn’s Energy & Commerce House Committee testimony on behalf of the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act, we are calling on all of you to contact your Senators and Representatives and encourage them to this legislation! AOTA has form letters for you to use, and I highly encourage you to edit them with your story to explain WHY this bill is important to YOU. Tell your story. Visit AOTA’s Take Action Page to send your letter today!

Need/want more information? Keep reading. But, don’t forget to send your letter!

P.S. Use this link to see Dr. Wilburn’s testimony – Start at 50:20 for her testimony.

Why Occupational Therapy Needs the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act

Let’s break down the numbers. According to a 2017 report from Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA):

  • 77% of physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT), speech-lanugage pathology (SLP), and respiratory therapy (RT) professionals identified as white
  • less than 5% of PT, OT, SLP, and RT professionals identified as black
  • 8% of PT, OT, SLP, and RT professionals identified as Hispanic

It is well researched that healthcare quality improves when patients are treated by clinicians of the same racial or ethnic background. Additionally, we know that individuals from a racial or ethnic minority have increased barriers to accessing higher education which is required to participate in the allied health professions.


If occupational therapy practitioners want to provide holistic and client-centered care that facilitates a client’s ability to participate in their chosen occupations, diversity of the profession is essential.

About the Act

The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act (S. 1679/H.R. 3320) was introduced as part of the 117th Congress on Tuesday, May 18, 2020, by Rep Bobby Rush (IL-01) and Rep Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). This bill was first introduced in the 116th Congress but only passed the House. 

Similar to the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Diversity program, this Act will provide grant funding to higher education to improve accessibility to OT, PT, SLP, and RT programs for individuals from underrepresented communities. Higher education programs can use these funds to enhance the “…recruitment, enrollment, retention, and graduation of students from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds” (AOTA, 2021). 

AOTA has supported the development, introduction, and future passage of this legislation through lobbying efforts by the Federal Affairs Team. The primary lobbyist on this issue is Abe Saffer. This legislation aligns closely with AOTA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives which recently involved the announcement of the DEI Committee

What you can do

You can support this legislation by TAKING ACTION! AOTA has pre-written form letters for you to utilize. All you do is type in your address, and the system automatically identifies who your senators and representative are. I highly encourage you to edit the letter to reflect your personality and your story. Tell your legislators WHY this bill needs to pass and what impact it will have on you, the profession, and/or your patients. 

Want these instructions in a list format? Here you go:

  1. Go to www.aota.org/takeaction
  2. Click “Write A Letter: Ask Congress to Support the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act”
  3. Enter your name and the address where you are registered to vote
    1. Click “Email opt-in” if you want to get updates from the Federal Affairs Team
  4. Edit the letter to reflect your message
  5. Sign the letter
  6. Click “Submit”

And you’re done!!! Easy right? You can jump straight to Step 3 by clicking on this link. Happy advocating!

Resources

This list is not comprehensive.

Resources on the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act

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Occupational therapist & medicare specialist helping practitioners understand policy, engage in advocacy, and own their value!

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