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Raising the Bar in Rehab

Thoughts on the APTA?

Published June 21, 2010 11:54 AM by

With the PT 2010 conference just wrapping up, I thought I would discuss the APTA. During college, it was mandatory for students to be members of the APTA - partially to learn the APTA positions on ethical practice and clinical standards, and partially to encourage responsibly promoting the profession. I was too busy in school with other projects, homework and studying to utilize the APTA for as much as it offered. I knew where to find a PT, look for jobs and download research articles for my classes.

When I was in school, and even now, the financial costs of APTA involvement make it difficult for me to openly participate. Obviously, the membership fee comes with many benefits - access to research studies, legislature and legal changes to support PT reimbursement, along with a community of other therapists for networking and mentoring. But with the economy the way it is, many "extras" need to take a backseat.

I remember one of my clinical instructors telling me once that the annual APTA conference was like a college reunion for her classmates. Many of her friends went to the conference not only for CE courses, but also to reconnect with old friends. So I ask you - are you a member? Does your employer reimburse you for APTA fees? Do you utilize your APTA membership fully? What do you think about the APTA?


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December 28, 2012 4:03 PM

Here are some numbers: According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 185,000 employed physical therapists in the USA in 2008, the most recent numbers they have. According the the APTA they have just over 74,000 members.

That is less than half!

When a professional body can't convince 1/2 of the professionals to join, how on earth can they promote the profession effectively to anybody else? They can't. They are doing something wrong.

Kyle mentioned that I do not have a vote, indeed I do. In this capitalist society we vote with our checkbooks. By not joining I have sent a message. I have taken a stance. As for Ryan's comment about what makes a true professional, it means standing up for what you believe is right for the profession, even if you disagree with what the organization is saying. We are taught to be leaders, those of you with DPT status I would expect to be even more so!

Lead! Take charge and give the organization a kick in the pants! Look at how the future of healthcare is evolving. Does vision 2020 still fit the model or is the organization clinging to an outdated idea?

It is rare that I agree with my fellow blogger, Toni Patt, but on her latest posting I couldn't agree more. She is discovering what I did after a few years of membership. Read her blog posting. There is something to what us old geezers (sorry Toni) have to say.

Dean Metz June 22, 2010 12:49 PM

On the issue of cost, I believe its a non-issue really.  Simply budget your finances appropriately!  Don't use the "bad economy" as the scapegoat, but instead manage your own personal economy well.  Consider the professional organization membership another expense that goes along with being a true professional.

The APTA has worked hard on behalf of members AND nonmembers to bring the profession to where it stands now, and it still works hard towards our Vision 2020 goal.  As a student, I feel I owe the APTA the very least my membership dues, for the work the organization has done to uphold the excellence of the physical therapy profession and the progression towards the future.  Not joining would be disrespectful to those before me who've made the profession what it is today.

From my limited experience so far, the apathy and general disregard for the APTA from PTs and PT students are based on ignorance, and like the issue of cost, petty matters.  

UF DPT c/o 2011

Ryan Balmes, SPT June 22, 2010 11:03 AM
Gainesville FL

Writing a check to an organization that you don't agree with sounds absurd.  If I don't agree with an organizations stance I will not support it.

I also wrote checks to the APTA (years ago) and even belonged to the neuro section, was it worth it? At the time yes.  As Dean mentioned information can be found on the internet now.  

As for schools making it mandatory to join the APTA, this doesn't seem right.  Sounds too much like mandatory Obamacare.   Lisa, what if you didn't join, what would the school do?

Jason Marketti June 21, 2010 11:19 PM

Lisa>>If you view APTA membership as an economic extra, it will always be hard to pay that check and you may never upkeep your membership. But, if you look at it as a professional duty and a cost of practicing PT, then you will always be willing to write that check. Further, you should be able to find a facility that pays for APTA dues either outright, or as a part of continuing education money. If you do not join now, when will you? Will it ever become financially "easier" to pay the $500?

Dean>>I understand your point of view, and I actually fiercely disagree with some of what the APTA does/supports. But, I am still member, because if I am not a member, then you are absolutely right, the organization does not support you. But, more important YOUR opinion is irrelevant unless you are a member. [I liken it to people who complain about government, but refuse to vote]. By being a member I can express my concerns and views to my house of delegate representatives and other individuals within the organization. Recently, I did this regarding the voting rights of PTA's within the APTA and the APTA's view on PT supervision of support personal. And, I was actually able to express my views and engage in a debate with two voting members of the house of delegates...

Further, the APTA is the only organization nationally that supports and lobbies for the physical therapy profession in general.

In all honesty, I do not use many of the tools provided by the website, but believe membership is invaluable. Look at the quality and growth of CSM and National Conference over the past few years. How about the new consumer website?

Our PT program (UC Denver) has taken a different route. They do not mandate an APTA membership, but highly encourage it, and believe it should be a professional responsibility.

I believe it is the responsibility of the PT to be a member of the APTA. And, THEN, to actively express their opinions and be involved.

All the best...

Kyle Ridgeway, DPT June 21, 2010 5:55 PM
Denver CO

Lisa, I've had a love - hate relationship with the APTA for as long as I've been practicing (that's a while!). Although I currently live and work in the United Kingdom, for the last 5 years of my working life in the US, I did not belong to the APTA. I could afford it, but I disagree with the official stance the organization takes on many things. My refusal to join was an act of defiance.

Many of the things that one could only get by membership a few years back are now fairly readily available via the internet. My colleagues whom I want to stay in touch with, I stay in touch with. They are my mentors and sounding boards and I invest in those relationships.

I know that 3 new board members came aboard in Boston. I think it is great and I'm looking forward to hearing which direction things go. Who knows? I might just sign up again if I feel the organization actually represents me.

Good luck with your decision, Dean

Dean Metz June 21, 2010 1:25 PM

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