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Clarkson University Physical Therapy Students Advocate for Healthcare Changes

Three Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students from Clarkson University backed up their beliefs with action this spring by teaming up with the New York Physical Therapy Association (NYPTA) to lobby state lawmakers for healthcare changes.

Megan Shaia of Glen Allen, Va., Taylor Piacente of Livonia, N.Y. and John LaRue of Liverpool, N.Y. joined practicing physical therapists from around the state to urge lawmakers to support legislation on three issues -- formalizing the term DPT to mean “doctor of physical therapy,” allowing physical therapy assistants to treat patients who are on Workers' Compensation and reducing the co-pay for patients seeing a physical therapist.

“We woke up at 4 a.m. to get on the road to Albany, but we had lots of coffee and we got to talk about what's important,” said Shaia. “We had the opportunity to meet these legislators in person, and we helped them put a face to the laws that affect the people we will be serving.”

For example, a bill that would allow physical therapy assistants to treat patients on Worker's Compensation is critical to getting patients the access to care they deserve after a work- related injury, Shaia said.

“Social responsibility and advocacy are core values within the physical therapy profession,” said Clinical Professor of Physical Therapy Stacey Zeigler. “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.”

The three students just finished their second year of Clarkson's eight-semester DPT program, which includes hands-on clinical experiences as well as classroom work, so they are well aware of the impact of the legislative changes they are promoting.

LaRue points to this visit to lawmakers as “another example of a really good opportunity” that the DPT program at Clarkson University provides. “It's all positive to get students involved. There are a lot of important conversations to have,” he noted.

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, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., 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: Three Clarkson University Doctor of Physical Therapy students recently teamed up with the New York Physical Therapy Association to lobby state lawmakers for healthcare changes. Left to right: Taylor Piacente, John LaRue and Megan Shaia.

[A photograph for media use is available at]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations, at 315-268-4483 or]

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