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Toni Talks about PT Today

Another Survey

Published February 25, 2010 3:35 PM by Toni Patt
I got another survey in my email.  This one was asking what it would take for me to get involved in the TPTA and the APTA.  I received a similar one a few weeks ago.  It asked about involvement in my state section.  The fact that someone felt it was necessary to send out these surveys is telling.  The PT public isn't supporting its representative bodies. 

Support comes in many forms. The two that immediately come to mind are volunteerism and financial.  I wonder which of these are driving the interest in involving more of us.  The surveys I've received haven't mentioned financial support but it isn't hard to make the connection.  If I become more involved I become personally vested in the organization and its goals.  The personal component would motivate me to donate money.

I could have answered those questions and saved those surveyors a lot of money.  There are two reasons I'm not more involved.  First, none of the local activities interest me.  All of the free CEUs have been ortho oriented.  I don't think it's appropriate for PTs to volunteer to massage runners at our local marathon.  There is no community for evidence-based anything. And, for the most part, the leadership has tunnel vision for Direct Access.   Excuse me, but there is more to being a PT than Direct Access.

Secondly, I don't think the state and national levels are listening to their members.  Once again, we have tunnel vision focused on Vision 2020 which translates into Direct Access.  For example, although it has died down, there was much conflict over the decision to eliminate the MSPT and go directly to the DPT.  Many PTs were not only against it, but vocal.  Another example is the move toward evidence-based practice.  This is a very good thing. But you can't expect PTs to use evidence if they don't know what it is or how to retrieve it.  New grads get this as part of their education. What about the rest of us?  How are we supposed to learn?  The idea that new grads will teach everyone is absurd.

The push for Direct Access began before the DPT.  PTs practice in many settings that won't benefit from Direct Access.  Only OP practioners will benefit and only those with a DPT would qualify based on current arguments.   So why is that so important that everything else is excluded?  What about developing the PT brand?  Or, promoting wellness and prevention of illness?  I had two classes that focused specifically on those topics.  PTs are uniquely suited for the sports industry.   Health clubs, fitness centers and the like would be excellent settings for those interested in sports medicine. 

That's why we don't participate.  We're not being listened to.  I care much less about Direct Access than I do about continuing to have a job.  Promoting the practice of physical therapy to increase utilization would certainly help that.   I care that reimbursement continues to be cut back resulting in staffing shortages, lack of equipment and short and shorter lengths of stay.  If I'm lucky I get 14 days, including weekends, to get a dense hemi ready to go home with family.  PTs care about salary levels, work hours and the settings we practice in. 

I can't speak for anyone else.  I would be more willing to do more if I felt my interests were being addressed.  I probably won't donate anything towards Direct Access.  I would be willing to donate to help sponsor speakers and to fight against dwindling reimbursement.  I would donate toward being able to order imaging studies because there are times I really wish I could.  I willingly support the neuro and geriatric sections because they enable me to improve my practice.  I'll never see these questions on a survey.  Either no one wants to find out the obvious or if they asked they think they would be expected to act on the information.


Toni, Thank you for hitting the nail on the head as to why I chose not to be an APTA member anymore! It was not an easy decision, I felt like I was deserting my profession in some ways, but by the same token, I felt like the APTA had deserted me.

I think your reasoning is spot on, the APTA needs to examine why they need to ask for support from professionals. If the professionals aren't supporting them, perhaps it is because they are not supporting us!

Dean Metz February 25, 2010 5:53 PM

Hi Tonni.  I think we worked together briefly at Mem Herm in med center.  I'm a traveler with suppemental.

Anywhoo; I agree with you in a few regards.  Mainly, the TPTA/APTA does not really listen to members.  It seems there is an elitist attitude with personal agendas that have nothing to do with actual practice.  

On the contrary, am also a member of the Geriatric section and have found it helpful in practice.  Especially the yahoo listerve. Also, over the years the actual APTA website has come a long way in providing more outlets to access research articles.  The open door has been very helpful in literature reviews.

Many of the new graduates have good intentions of being evidence-based in practice but lack the guidance needed from a smooth transition from academia to "real-world" clinical practice.  They  encounter productivity and many lose interest in educational opportunities with staff.

Crystalyn Richard, TX - Houston February 25, 2010 5:12 PM

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