The APTA: Out of Touch?
I've read with interest the e-mail summaries I received from last week's PT 2010 conference in Boston. I can't say I was very impressed by what I read. On the surface those e-mails gave a brief description of what was happening. I was more interested in what wasn't happening or at least wasn't mentioned. I didn't see anything about the APTA meeting with various members to get a feel for what the average PT or PTA was thinking. With all the emphasis on Vision 2020 and the push to get PTs and PTAs to buy into it, this meeting would seem like the ideal place to measure the results of those efforts and get a feel for what therapists are thinking.
Instead I found numerous ads for PT-related products and sponsors. I noticed two articles about specific organizations. I found recaps of some of the topics discussed. Only one of those interested me. I felt like I was reading a press release rather something designed to provide me information. This is our national conference, yet I found no evidence that the major problems facing the profession were addressed.
Most of the people I've talked to have minimal knowledge of direct access or the purpose of the DPT. They're more concerned with salary, benefits and having a job. The question isn't so much whether jobs will exist as it is under what conditions? In order to cut costs, facilities are cutting positions and trying to keep a lid on salaries. In my facility, fewer people are being asked to do more work. Yet I saw nothing addressing that very real fear.
My belief that the APTA is out of touch with its members is only reinforced by this. The majority of us want a decent salary with benefits. I only know two PTs who are concerned about direct access. The APTA will be losing members if we aren't making enough to pay our dues. We're years away from direct access having any effect on employment figures for PTs. Every day people are losing their jobs and the health insurance benefits that come with them. That translates into fewer people seeking medical services, including PT.
Previously I have stated the APTA needs to go back and catch its members up with the present instead of pushing ahead with an agenda few of us are prepared for. Teach us how to use evidence. Provide funding for those who seek specialist certification, or lower the costs to obtain it. I've yet to see any campaigning to support the importance of specialization. Other than the satisfaction of accomplishment, the APTA doesn't support any benefits. As my friend the computer person asked, why get a specialization if it doesn't get you anything?
The APTA might be surprised how much more support and membership it gets if its focus changes or includes some of these issues. Salary and job security are important to everyone. Until the employment situation and economy improve, I think the APTA needs to change its focus and reconnect with its members.