The APTA: Membership Is Valuable
(Editor's Note: Throughout the month of February, ADVANCE bloggers Lisa Mueller and Michael Kelley will post "Dueling Blogs," in which they argue opposing sides of the same issue. Topic #1 -- "Is APTA Membership Valuable?")
More than five years ago when I was a student of physical therapy at Marquette University, APTA membership was highly encouraged by my professors. At the time, I perceived the APTA as a requirement that was necessary for my schooling, but also felt like I was finally a professional when I received my membership information. I was part of something! Beyond feeling a sense of belonging, I believe the APTA is a valuable tool to the physical therapy profession and offers both members and non-members important benefits.
Moveforwardpt.com is a patient-facing portal that proves singlehandedly the impact of the APTA. This site houses a collection of symptoms/diagnoses and promotes in each example the ways physical therapy can play a role in recovery. Prospective patients can easily navigate through information on Medicare caps and locating a physical therapist, as well as read through the benefits physical therapy offers. If you look at other professional association websites (American Chiropractic Association, for example), you'll find gaps compared to the APTA's site. It's a wonderful resource to use with patients and a prime example of how the APTA adds value to the physical therapy profession.
Direct access, while not completely accepted by all physical therapists, would not have happened without the APTA's support and advocacy. The APTA's advocacy efforts at the national and state levels help the physical therapy profession stay on top of legislative issues, including Medicare standards. The APTA helps translate the changing requirements so physical therapists can focus on patient care while they do the "grunt work" in the background.
Finally, the APTA helps develop and communicate evidence for improved clinical decision-making and treatment. Membership to the APTA includes access to articles and abstracts, and monthly mailing of the PT Journal keeps therapists updated on new research. I probably wouldn't be as informed about evidence-based practice if it weren't for the APTA's efforts.
Continuous improvement is a part of every group -- colleagues, marriages, families, associations, and governments. The APTA has room for improvement like any of those and I'm confident they will be a strong factor in the advancement of the physical therapy profession in the years to come.
What do you think? Are the benefits of the APTA worth the membership? What would the APTA need to offer to gain your membership, if you aren't already?