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06-16-2016

Clarkson University Physical Therapy Students Advocate for Healthcare Changes

Real-life experiences and insights are essential components of education at Clarkson University, and for two second-year doctor of physical therapy students, that meant a trip to Albany, N.Y., to lobby for healthcare changes with the New York Physical Therapy Association.

Courtney Popsie (left) and Caitlyn HennesseyCourtney Popsie (left) and Caitlyn HennesseyCourtney Popsie and Caitlyn Hennessey joined practicing physical therapists from around the state to urge Assembly members to support legislation on three issues -- to formalize the term DPT to mean “doctor of physical therapy,” to allow physical therapy assistants to treat patients who are on Workers' Compensation; and to reduce the co-pay for patients seeing a physical therapist.

“I feel as if I'm part of something bigger,” says Popsie, who's from Concord, N.H. “I absolutely would recommend lobbying. Anybody can join their physical therapists. Elected officials usually only talk to others in their same field, so most of them are interested in hearing real stories from the public about issues that affect them.”

For Syracuse resident Hennessey, the lobby day was a really good experience as well. “I encourage people to go for whatever cause is important to them. Change can't happen otherwise.”

The Clarkson University students were mentored by a few physical therapists already in practice who attended the mid-May event, Hennessey said. They explained the legislation, all of which will help patients receive necessary professional care in an affordable way.

“We were there to show power in numbers. Most of the Assembly members were already on board,” Hennessey notes. “Our professor, Stacey Zeigler, mentioned lobby day and encouraged us to go. We left Albany feeling that we did something good, and can continue to do this.”

“Social responsibility and advocacy are core values within the physical therapy profession,” says Zeigler, a clinical professor of physical therapy. “In the DPT program at Clarkson, we cultivate these values through many community events and projects. The chance to speak to legislators about issues that affect patients' quality of life and access to physical therapy services is always encouraged. The NYPTA Lobby Day provides the chance for students to develop face-to-face relationships, communication and leadership skills that can make a world of difference to improve lives.”

For Popsie, the day focused on legislative issues brings home the point that “just because you're not interested in politics doesn't mean it doesn't affect you.” If you can't make a trip to Albany, then contact your local representative about issues that are important to you, she urges.

Clarkson's Doctor of Physical Therapy is a three-year program with eight semesters. Popsie and Hennessey have finished five semesters, and both are eager to take their expertise back into the community. They also plan to continue lobbying for various causes. Their trip was undertaken independently and was not officially sponsored by the University.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University doctor of physical therapy students Courtney Popsie (left) and Caitlyn Hennessey joined practicing physical therapists from around the state in Albany, N.Y., to lobby for healthcare changes with the New York Physical Therapy Association.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/popsie-hennessey.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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