Members of the Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association (NOTA)-which currently consists of licensed OTRs, COTAs, OT students, COTA students and retired therapists-are vital for myriad reasons, all of which help foster the profession's continued growth and development.
Having a strong membership body can help keep the organization active in the state and offer more benefits to members, noted Lindsay Tuxhorn, OTD, OTR/L, District 1 vice president on the NOTA Board and co-chair of the NOTA conference planning committee. More members also mean more fresh ideas and an increased likelihood that more individuals will get involved in the duties of running the organization.
In addition, membership dues support NOTA's lobbyist, who represents the profession and keeps people abreast of legislative issues.
"The dues also support our ability to bring in expert speakers for conference and continuing education throughout the year," said Tuxhorn.
The Importance of Membership
As members of NOTA, OTs have great opportunities to network with others across the state who may work in different settings, thus increasing their knowledge as well as providing employment opportunities.
The association's continuing education seminars and conference offer therapists CEUs required for continued licensure at a very reasonable price to members.
When asked how becoming a member of an occupational therapy association helps to elevate the profession to its proper place of recognition and reimbursement, Anna Domina, OTD, OTR/L, NOTA president, responded that it is important for OTs in any state to be involved in their state association.
"Being a member helps support your organization and gives the OT profession more of a voice. The more involved OTs are, the more visible our profession is within the state," she said.
When the profession is more visible to individuals, people see the value of an occupational therapist's work and, in turn, OTs will hopefully not have to fight for reimbursement of their services.
"When someone talks about doing 'therapy,' people so often think of physical therapy, but it would be great if through outspoken and involved OTs, that mindset would start to change and people would recognize occupational therapy as easily," Domina added.
Advocating for OTs
NOTA continually advocates for its members and the profession through the legislature by way of its lobbyist. The association also provides a website to update its members on upcoming events and other OT-related news. NOTA is increasing its efforts to also use social networking to get information to members and non-members. (Be sure to "like" the NOTA, Inc. Facebook page to stay up to date on the latest happenings.)
Looking ahead, Tuxhorn believes changes in healthcare will affect OTs across the state with regard to how services are provided to patients.
"These changes will present new challenges to occupational therapists in all settings, but I'm confident we will still find ways to do what is best for our patients despite any limitations from payer sources," she said. "The changes we are seeing in healthcare are all the more reason to support your state organization so our lobbyist can continue to advocate for our profession, ultimately trickling down to benefiting our patients."
NOTA is planning to change its conference schedule in the coming years, starting a one-day, one-speaker conference for fall 2013. It will kick off a new full conference in the spring of April 2014.
NOTA is continually looking for people to become involved in the organization. It currently has openings for a treasurer and secretary, as well as membership chair positions in all three districts.
Occupational therapists in Nebraska interested in supporting the efforts of the profession in the state should visit www.notaonline.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Puliti is a frequent contributor to ADVANCE.