Direct Access and the DPT
Today I ate lunch with someone I hadn't seen in a while. He wanted to tell me about the new facility where he is working. Someone there recently earned a DPT. He said the rest of the staff was now fawning over the new DPT. He asked me what my facility did for me when I graduated and whether I was enjoying my new status.
The APTA would be thrilled with that conversation. Individuals both within and outside of the PT world recognized the DPT as something important. Supporting direct access can't be far behind. It looks like progress is being made on both fronts. Compared to my facility, there is definite progress. Where I work I'm the only DPT. It brings me no recognition, respect or added responsibility. Direct access and the DPT have something in common. The majority of practicing therapists don't care about them.
The DPT remains an enigma. I know there are other DPTs in Houston. I don't know how they are treated within different departments. The APTA wants the DPT to be the end-all of PT but fails to take into consideration that respect and value for the DPT come from the rest of the PT population. If other PTs don't see value in it, neither will other disciplines including physicians. The same applies to direct access.
In less than a month, the TPTA is sponsoring a legislative day. The purpose is to show legislators grassroots support for a direct-access bill. The TPTA is asking therapists and students to head to Austin to meet with various legislators, committees and whatnot for the districts where they live. I find it ironic that neither of the two biggest proponents of direct access have DPTs. I wonder how they defend direct access without explaining how important the DPT is to that cause.
It's even more ironic that most of the targeted population of PTs and PTAs don't really care about either one. They might not even benefit depending on how the bill is written. There are many more PTs and MSPTs than DPTs in Texas. Passing anything that specifically states care must be provided by a DPT shoots a large hole in the cause. The ultimate irony would be passing direct access for DPTs only, so I could practice under it but others could not. Stranger things have happened.
Those supporting direct access may have an eye-opening experience as the lack of grassroots support becomes more obvious. As of last week, 50 people from the southeast district had registered to add the legislative day. That isn't a lot of people when you consider how large Houston is. It's much easier to achieve something like the DPT when grassroots support isn't required.
I don't remember getting e-mails encouraging me to pressure local schools to change to a DPT. I don't think anyone would have done that. Direct access is different. In order to get it, lawmakers must see that it matters to the profession. That means thousands of people, not hundreds, must show support and that support must be ongoing. I don't see it. It also means real money - hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unless the APTA is willing to help each state, I don't see that happening either.