Dr. Hachtel elected to national position in AOTA

UPDATED 3/14/12

Dr. Yvette Hachtel, professor of occupational therapy at Belmont University, has been elected to chair the Ethics Commission of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) following a national vote by the organization’s membership.   The Ethics Commission is one of the bodies of the representative assembly of the AOTA and is responsible for developing the ethics standards for the profession which apply to occupational therapy (OT) personnel at all levels and in all professional and societal roles.

Dr. Hachtel is a registered and licensed occupational therapist and earned a law degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  She was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1993.  A member of AOTA for more than 30 years, Dr. Hachtel most recently served two terms as a member of the Ethics Commission’s Disciplinary Council Board.   Throughout her career, she has been involved with professional activities at the state and national level that serve to ensure the competency and ethical practice of practitioners at all levels.  Dr. Hachtel has taught ethics at the graduate level and served as a consultant to the Tennessee OT Licensure Board for nearly 15 years.  She is a General Civil Mediator for the Tennessee Supreme Court Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.   From 1994 to 1997, she served as secretary of the Maine OT Practice Board.  Her legal background has provided extensive training and experience as a mediator.

“This is a significant professional accomplishment for Dr. Hachtel,” said Dr. Scott McPhee, associate dean in the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing and chair of the School of Occupational Therapy, in extending congratulations.   “We’re extremely happy that she has been recognized for this important role and are confident she will excel in this new responsibility and represent Belmont in exemplary fashion.”

Dr. Hachtel commented on her election:  “It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be elected chairperson-elect for the AOTA Ethics Commission.  As a former board member of a state professional licensure board and most recently as a consultant to Tennessee’s Occupational Therapy Practice Board, I know that occupational therapy practitioners have an outstanding reputation for providing quality, ethical intervention to their clients.  The AOTA Code of Ethics provides guidance for occupational therapy practitioners faced with potential and actual ethical issues. It is a living document that must remain current and reflective of the world we live and practice in. With the proliferation of the Internet and social media, we are all under increasing scrutiny by the public and it is important that we take even more rigorous precautions to protect the privacy and dignity of our clients.  As medicine offers new options for patients, occupational therapy practitioners must continue to provide accurate and current information to assist our clients in making informed, ethical treatment choices while being cognizant of their respective cultural backgrounds and values.”

Dr. Hachtel’s appointment was featured in an article in The Tennessean linked here.   The article is also reprinted below:

A Belmont University professor and Hendersonville resident was recently elected to serve in a national leadership role with the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Beginning July 1, Yvette Hachtel will start a three-year term as Chairperson of the Ethics Commission for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). She was elected to the position earlier this month by a vote of AOTA’s membership.

Occupational therapy services are commonly aimed at promoting health by enabling people to participate in meaningful and purposeful activities; occupational therapists work with those who suffer from physically, mentally, emotionally or developmentally debilitating conditions by helping to adapt environments to those afflicted.

Hachtel is a tenured Belmont professor who has taught occupational therapy and ethics there for the past 14 years while living in Hendersonville. Apart from being a licensed occupational therapist and educator, Hachtel also has a law degree.

Hachtel said her job as Chairperson of AOTA’s Ethics Commission will be to update the organization’s professional code of ethics and also to review complaints against practitioners to determine whether or not discipline is warranted.

She explained that occupational therapists’ membership to AOTA is voluntary and not a necessary condition for practice; though she said she wants all occupational therapists to be aware of the merits of AOTA’s Code of Ethics.

“I think the biggest thing is, just making sure the practitioners are aware of what the code of ethics actually says,” Hachtel said.

She said Tennessee law now requires that all occupational therapists be educated on AOTA’s Code of Ethics with every two-year renewal cycle of practitioners’ licenses.

Hachtel said there is also merit to be found in some recent additions to the organization’s code of ethics, though, the additions are not mandates, but recommendations.

Pro bono work encouraged

“One of them is that – practitioners look for opportunities to provide pro bono services, and that’s just a particular passion that I have,” she said. “I have always provided pro bono services to people that either have exhausted their insurance or don’t have insurance – I’ve always offered free service to people that need it.”

“I also have a law degree, and in law, that is a mandate – lawyers have to provide pro bono services,” she said. “So I think that I wouldn’t necessarily be advocating to make it a requirement, but I think that it’s something practitioners should very seriously give consideration.”

Hachtel, who does not currently get paid for practicing occupational therapy, said she maintains her license and practices pro bono services for those who are recovering from strokes and for men with a history or chronic homelessness and substance abuse.

Hachtel has also served as a volunteer mediator on the board of Sumner Mediation Services.

AOTA is a national professional organization that, “advances the quality, availability, use, and support of occupational therapy through standard-setting, advocacy, education, and research on behalf of its members and the public,” according to the organization’s website.

Reporter Will Daugherty can be reached at 575-7115 or wdaugherty@tennessean.com