Over the course of the past years of pursuing my career in physical therapy, I have began to realize the impact that our voices in the profession can make to optimize the care we can provide for our patients. Advocacy can take many forms from discussing with friends, family, and co-workers, to sending letters or meeting with members of congress at the state and federal levels. Most recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and gather with passionate members of the profession to advocate to the federal government at the Capitol. The experience was a large highlight of my new career since graduating as a Doctor of Physical Therapy this past June. In the physical therapy field, we are constant educators to our patients and their loved ones, and with advocating, we are able to use our skills in education to share with members of congress the influence that various legislation could have on our providers and patients.
One piece of legislation that we were advocating for in Washington D.C. was The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act. This legislation would provide grants and stipends to higher education programs to aid in recruitment of individuals of underrepresented backgrounds within the physical therapy profession as well as in occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, respiratory therapy, and audiology. We were able to share with our congress members how this piece of legislation could ultimately influence our patients as patients tend to have better outcomes when they can receive care from members of their own racial and ethnic backgrounds. I was able to share the work that the University of Minnesota Physical Therapy Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group was striving to complete in the recruitment of members of underrepresented communities and the influence that this legislation could have on these already growing efforts.
My experience in Washington D.C helped me understand that members of Congress need to hear our stories to understand how legislation influences our profession and patients. I learned that although I have a lot to learn about how legislation is developed and put into place, I still was able to be a voice and advocate for legislation that I knew impacts our profession. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to learn, advocate, and be inspired by members of our profession through my time advocating. I look forward to continuing to learn about current issues that impact our profession and seeking out ways to be an advocate for my patients and colleagues.
Dr. Alicia Bellefeuille, PT, DPT serves as a physical therapist with Live Your Life in a home health setting and with University of Minnesota Medical Center in an acute care setting. Alicia graduated from University of South Dakota with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and minor in Spanish and then went on to earn her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Minnesota. Alicia has worked with a wide array of conditions in outpatient and inpatient settings and is enjoying her opportunity to now work with individuals both in preparation for leaving the hospital and to improve independence and safety for people currently living at home. Alicia is passionate about working with patients to help them maximize function, independence, and confidence in activities most important to them, and she has a special interest working with patients with neurologic diagnoses, including following a stroke.
Alicia is a Minnesota native and is very grateful to be able to spend free time with her family in the cities. Alicia also enjoys spending as much time as possible in the outdoors – hiking, running, picking up new sports with her friends, or relaxing at a lake.