New Mexico Occupational Therapy Association

February 18, 2015

Photo courtesy Sandy Clough, The assembled OT group in front of Capitol Bldg.

A community of one hundred plus go to Santa Fe.

As one thousand occupational therapy professionals were waking up to go to work Monday morning, over 100 students, faculty, and OT clinicians descended in Santa Fe for an early morning legislative briefing, bagels, and serious caffeination. This robust community of OTs marched two blocks to the capitol to begin lobbying on behalf of occupational therapy practice in New Mexico. 

Clad in turquoise tee shirts sporting the text ASK ME ABOUT OT,  teams of four began seeking out the entire legislative body of Senate and House. Legislators who were not in their offices were found through the sleuthing efforts of the teams who staked out conference rooms and even the floor of both legislative bodies. Members of the House were asked to support HB 192, the new Occupational Therapy Practice Act. 

HB192 is headed soon to the House Health Committee chaired by Representative Terry McMillan. Asked for his support, Representative McMillan voiced he saw no reason not to support the bill. Representative John Zimmerman, also on the Health Committee expressed no reservations about the bill, saying "I've already read it, and I support it".

Students, by far the largest contingent, came from Western New Mexico University in Silver City, Brown-Mackie College-ABQ, and University of New Mexico-ABQ. Students from Western actually had to travel to Santa Fe on Sunday and spend the night in order to be at the seven a.m. briefing, and had to travel home on late Monday afternoon after a long day at the capitol. That is commitment!

NMOTA Vice-President Johanna Cubra and a team of three OT graduate students, David Jack Gleghorn, Nadya Guerrero-Pezzano, and Julie Gutierrez planned and prepared for the event for several weeks, and it culminated in the successful outing to the legislature. NMOTA members and practitioners Coby Livingstone, Rachel Nelson, and Effie Pulford helped support the planning effort and logistics for the meeting.  NMOTA would like to thank all of the tireless volunteers and participants for a great Legislative Day!

NMOTA also thanks the NMOTA members and community practitioners who have taken the time to call legislators like McMillan and Zimmerman to support HB192. The phone calls are working.



Photo courtesy C.Wilhite, The House Floor from the Gallery

Update on HB122

Combined Board


HB122, a bill to combine the health professions boards was heard in the House Health Committee last Thursday afternoon. The Bill received a "DO NOT PASS" recommendation, and a substitute bill was given a "DO PASS". The substitute bill came to the floor on Monday for a first reading.

NMOTA has not had access to the language in the substitute bill, and will be seeking it out.


An Unexpected Moment of Advocacy

Students stand up to reduce restraint and seclusion


Brenna Freeze, a UNM graduate student reported that several students from New Mexico OT and OTA programs were in attendance in the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Senator John Sapien when SB283 School Use of Restraint and Seclusion, came up for committee consideration. The bill, sponsored by Senator Bill O'Neill, would decrease schools use of restraint and seclusion on children with disabilities. Testimony both for and against changes in the use of restraint and seclusion were heard by the committee. Families, organizations. and occupational therapists were testifying for reducing restraint and seclusion and gave many examples of  detrimental use of the control techniques on students with disabilities, while educational officials strenuously opposed the changes. At one point, Senator Sapien asked the audience how many were in support of SB283. At least twenty turquoise shirted OT students and practitioners stood to support the many families and organizations who were also standing. The dramatic effect of solidarity was unmistakable. The committee recommended a Do Pass on SB283 to reduce the use of restraints and seclusion. Advocacy works.


Lobbying Expense


Just as freedom isn't free, neither is lobbying on behalf of the OT Profession in New Mexico. The direct cost of NMOTA's advocacy for occupational therapy practice is shouldered by 285 members; paid for through memberships, conference income, and the volunteerism of a few dozen.

But well over 1000 licensed occupational therapy practitioners benefit from the NMOTA legislative effort, which will cost well over $12,000 this year alone. Because House Bill 192 will not simply walk through the House and Senate without a shepherd to keep it in front of the legislators.

Do the math. A membership in NMOTA is cheap insurance to make sure occupational therapy is a licensed, respected, and protected health profession in New Mexico. Let's call a truce on all the excuses we use to not join our professional practice community.  Click the link below!


Brought to you by your NMOTA volunteers: - Carla Wilhite - Johanna Cubra - Sybil Regalado - Annandhi Chandrasekaran - Jessica Miranda - Gerri Duran - Renee Soderlund - Steve Sorensen

Featured NEWS!


Save the Date - NMOTA's Annual Legislative Day:

Students from various schools and professionals from across the state will be meeting Monday, February 16 at 7:30 am at the First Christian Church at 645 Webber Street in Santa Fe. From there the group will go en masse to the Capital at 9 am. All are welcome to attend and join the cause.


The Winter Edition of our newsletter - The Reacher - is now available for download.



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At NMOTA our mission is to promote and develop the practice of Occupational Therapy in the state of New Mexico and to provide peer support to members by:

  • Fostering the relationship and collaboration between NMOTA and AOTA

  • Advocating legislation that is supportive and favorable to occupational therapy practice

  • Promoting professional development through continuing education and research opportunities, and awareness of current issues impacting occupational therapy

  • Developing and encouraging relationships within the OT community and with other professions and organizations.

"We envision that occupational therapy is a powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society's occupational needs."

-AOTA Centennial Vision


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