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Toni Talks about PT Today

Buying Into the Big Plan

Published August 31, 2010 9:34 AM by Toni Patt

School starts this week. I'm taking two classes and already starting to question if I really know what I'm doing. When I talk about my latest degree path I get one of two reactions from people. The more common one includes comments about being done with school, preferring to be a mother/father and good luck. I describe the alternative as the pinwheel phenomenon. Let me explain.

I get this reaction from anyone who has bought into the APTA grand scheme of things where Vision 2020 is a reality. They're more excited about my apparent support of Vision 2020 than any actual achievements. I like having fun with these people. It usually starts with the DPT. When I mention the GCS their eyes light up. The eyes begin spinning when I mention sitting for the NCS next year. They reach pinwheel level when I say PhD. They get so excited. Too bad it's about the wrong thing.

The DPT and clinical specializations are personal achievements for me. I would have pursued them with or without Vision 2020. The same is true of the degrees. Not only do I doubt Vision 2020 will occur by 2020, but I disagree with several of its principles. The excitement I hear about these achievements isn't for me, it's for what they perceive as support of the vision. Someone is actually buying into it.

Most PTs don't care about Vision 2020. They want job security and a salary high enough to support their families. Obtaining a clinical specialty isn't a priority for them. It's expensive. It's time-consuming. It doesn't make much, if any, difference salary-wise. It doesn't make a difference clinically. When people have to choose carefully how money is spent, something like that is very low on the list. The same is also true of transitional DPTs. They are nice but not necessary to practice.

Thus we have a problem. PTs as a whole aren't buying into the big plan. We're not paying expensive dues for membership in an organization that seems out of touch with its members. We're not overly enthusiastic about direct access. Based on the number of solicitation calls I get from the APTA PAC, I don't think we're supporting it financially either. I know several tDPTs. None of them pursued the degree to support Vision 2020. Most were concerned about being able to continue practicing in the future.

I don't buy into Vision 2020. I support pieces of it but believe the world of PT isn't ready for most of it. So I laugh to myself when eyes start spinning like pinwheels with excitement. I keep my thoughts to myself because I don't want to be dragged into the whole debate. In every profession there are those who are excellent clinicians, those who achieve certifications and those who achieve academically. Sometimes there is overlap. Sometimes there isn't. It results from personal preference, abilities and opportunities, not Vision 2020.

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