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Toni Talks about PT Today

Why Nothing Will Change at the APTA

Published August 19, 2015 4:41 PM by Toni Patt

In my last blog, I described my concerns that nothing will change with the APTA, expensive consultant group or not. I expect them to continue with the same message but repackage with new words. I see subtlety in their future. The reason I don't expect change is simple. The same people will still be in charge.

No one is stepping down from a leadership position. No one with new ideas is coming into the fold. Therefore the ideas haven't changed. APTA leadership has an agenda. That agenda hasn't changed and won't. The approach might be different but the goal is the same. It might work for a little while.

All we'll have to do is follow the money. It will go to the same places through the same people. I've heard enough updates from those people to know the general strategy. They get limited face time with lawmakers so keep to the talking points. Those talking points aren't going to be any different. They could bring up other issues but won't.

What those leaders fail to realize is even if they got everything immediately, nothing would change. It wouldn't be a reimbursement issue or a practice act issue. It wouldn't be conflict with physicians. It is our consumers. Consumers of therapy services don't see the value of therapy. They go because the physician tells them to go. If they're in a facility, they're a captive audience.

I've worked in numerous facilities. Most of the patients don't really want to go to therapy, or if they do, only on their terms. Yesterday I overheard one woman complaining that therapy comes whenever they want and takes you away. You can't watch your TV shows. You can't take a nap. You miss your physicians when they come.

If the general public thought physical therapy was valuable and started demanding better access, better reimbursement and coverage for equipment, more time in rehab facilities, then things would change. If all the lobbying groups for seniors got together and pushed for those things, there would be changes. It doesn't happen because no one sees the value of doing so.

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It doesn't take much skill to work in a skilled Rehab facility? Very ignorant comment. It's all about your attitude wherever you work. It's the therapists responsibility to improve the pts situation, even if it seems hopeless in the eyes of an unskilled therapist. We are all trained to improve physical function. If our best techniques and skilled efforts don't help, it doesn't mean it isn't skilled service. We can give our best to each pt, or we can just be a slouch and look at the negative situation. To look at snfs the way Karen does is a lazy attitude. Do all snf pts a favor and don't work there. Stay where you get positive feedback from your pts, which apparently is your job satisfaction. That comment was disrespectful to thousands of pts and therapists in this country. Have a good day

Jerry October 2, 2015 4:22 PM

I have to somewhat agree with Karen.  I have worked in a hospital based facility that does inpatient, outpatient, SNF (yes we still have one!) and home health.  We see all these different settings within the same day!  We have spend the time and extra effort to educate and form a relationship with our staff of other departments, management, patients and our community.  It shows in the respect we are given from all these people.  We have learned to work together, and always with a good attitude (which is everything).  Most of the therapists in my state who work at SNFs, do so for the money.  Most SNFs have to use contract staff because no therapists want to work in that setting, so they have to use contract staff or therapists who are just in it for the money.  And as a department director now, a higher salary seems to be all PTs care about.  Not being a great therapist, not helping people, not serving others or their organiziation or their  Granted not all are this way, but it seems more and more the majority.  Offering more money (salary) will never attract the best quality therapists, to those you have to offer something more than money.  And as for APTA, they regularly ask PTs to participate in surveys so they will know what is important to it's members.  How many surveys have you done for them?  How many meetings have you been to?  How much involvement have you really had?  How many have you spoken with to voice your concerns?  And then ask this, what kind of shape would our profession be in if they just didn't exist anymore?  Food for thought...


Angela, Physical Therapist of 16 years


Angela, PT September 10, 2015 7:51 PM

@Dean, suit yourself, your loss. I'm fine with the waiting list of patients who want to get on my schedule. Last I checked, it doesn't take much "skill" or experience to work in a "skilled" nursing facility. Thus, the reason for preferring new grads over experienced therapists in order to save money.

Karen Wakefield August 26, 2015 8:41 PM

We all know the APTA does not offer everything.  And they do not cater to PTA's.  They have a set agenda for a select group of PT's.  Maybe after that agenda is done they will get around to SNF PT's then after all the PT stuff is done they will get around to the PTA's.

I can agree with Karen to some extent, the attitude of the therapist plays a large role in the care of the patient, however, patients do not see a value in therapy because we are often interrupted and sent out of the room when x-ray, blood draw, nurses with medication come in.  If there is no professional respect for what we do how can we expect the patients to respect and respond positively to what we do?

Social workers, nurses, family, friends seems to butt in at anytime to interrupt a session.  Would they do that to an MD or a nurse who is providing care? Probably not.  And if I ask family or co-workers to leave until the therapy session is over I would be considered rude.

Yet, I am the professional that is bringing in the large income to the SNF.  Without me, the nurses would not get paid.    

J M August 26, 2015 10:12 AM

Toni, please keep up with your realistic portrayal of PT items. Leaders tackle the hardest problems and obviously the APTA has no leaders. No idea whom Karen is but I would prefer you to her any day.

dean reinke, none - survivor, none August 20, 2015 2:51 PM
east lansing MI

I am very frustrated with the leadership of the APTA as well and have become less hopeful for a meaningful change in our professional organization.  I have been an APTA member on & off for the past 15 yrs.  I usually stop my membership due to a feeling of poor return on investment (money).  We have seen some significant attacks on our scope of practice and autonomy w/o a strong voice or backing by the APTA.  I cannot speak for all PTs, but I don't renew every yr b/c I don't feel that they fully represent me professionally.  The amount of money is not the issue, but I have seen the discussion from the APTA that money must be the main deterrent for joining.  I don't see the APTA or other PTs discussing the possibility that most PTs may not see the value in the APTA.  Guilt for not joining seems to be a significant tool for encouraging PTs to join and not the message or purpose of the organization.  The vision 2020 was a great mission, but the APTA abandoned the vision and replaced it with a watered down version.  Not inspiring for PTs to join the vision and decreased the value of the APTA in my opinion.

J, PT August 20, 2015 1:46 AM

Maybe they don't see the value in it because you are a lousy PT with an even lousier attitude. I have never come across a more negative, miserable sounding therapist than yourself. Patients can sense that. I work in outpatient but years ago I did do inpatient/outpatient combo at a hospital. Regardless, my patients looked forward (and still do look forward) to therapy sessions with me because of my passion and knowledge of my profression, along with my ability to be fun and personable with each patient, and actually get/show results quickly. That is a skill in itself, and at times you really do have to work at it, depending on the patient. What you are describing has always been the exception, not the rule, for myself and others where I work/worked. So it sounds to me like this is a personal problem. I would like for your blog yo go away, and I have never even met or spoken with you, so I can just imagine how those who actual do have personal contact with you must feel!

Karen, Physical Therapist August 20, 2015 1:04 AM

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