The Future’s So Bright
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD- On Thursday morning, approximately 1000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and physical therapy students, representing all 50 states plus Washington, DC, rallied in front of the Capitol building. They were there to get pumped up for their Congressional visits later that morning. Music blared over loudspeakers as they arrived, songs like Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" and Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA." As the temperature climbed close to 100 degrees, the crowd waited anxiously.
One PT, Bonnie, sang a lovely rendition of the national anthem, accompanied by her two daughters in three-part harmony. Then APTA President Scott Ward took to the dais. "What a great sight to look out and see all of you," he said. He told the crowd that this year marks 25 years that the APTA has hosted "Hill Days," and during that time over 10,000 visits have been made to Congressional offices. The first "Hill Day" only had 70 people. "It is amazing to watch the growth of this, " Ward remarked. He then joked, "The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades."
Ward was followed by two senators who are advocates for the profession, Senator Tester of Montana and Senator Wicker of Mississippi. Tester is co-sponsor of the Physical Therapist Student Loan Repayment Eligibility Act. Promoting the act is one of three reasons for the PTs visits to the Senate. The other two: Repeal the arbirtray Medicare cap on physical therapy and stronger legislation on concussion treatment. "The work you'll do on the hill today is critically important if we're going to get the bills you're passionate about across the finish line," Tester reminded the crowd.
Wicker then took to the dais and thanked the assembled PTs and PTAs. He said, "We need more PTs and we need to help you do what you do best." As the baby boomers, like Wicker himself, continue to age, more of them will need physical therapy. As more wounded warriors come home, they will need physical therapy. "We've made it harder for you with the artificial cap," he admitted, setting off cheers.
The rally closed with an APTA staff member telling the crowd, "Now is the time to make a difference." Energized and empowered, the physical therapists left the Mall and headed for the Capitol building to talk to their representatives about the power of PT.