Executive Director's Posts

What is a "Culture of Advocacy"?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017  by paolangeli

In January, the APTAMA committed to creating a culture of advocacy as a critical piece of the Chapter’s vision.   What does that mean?  Why is it important?  As a 30+ year professional with extensive experience in public policy, here is my best attempt at an answer.

We know the health care environment is a dynamic one.  It is too large a piece of the economy at both the state and federal level to escape without attracting the attention of big players.  The only promise I can make is it won’t be the same two years from now as it is today.  It is likely, the changes in the next two years will be greater than those in the past two years.  As a physical therapy professional, it is incumbent on you to understand the profession, where it is headed and what role it must play in the health care system.  

This doesn’t mean you have to change your practice.  You don’t have to buy the newest and greatest rehab equipment.  You don’t have to get certified in dry needling or kinesiotaping.  You don’t even have to go back to school to get your D.P.T.  You do, however, have to keep up and understand what your peers are educated to do and support them in their efforts to move the practice of PT forward.

Advocacy within the physical therapy profession has often been challenged by the “protection” that institutions provide for their therapists.  “I don’t need to contact my legislator, my employer is going to do that” is a common refrain.  Additionally, I have heard more than once that particulsar threats to our practice act, “don’t affect me” so I’m not going to get involved.  This is a recipe for disaster.

Health care is not standing still in Massachusetts or the nation.  You can sit on the sidelines and hope that your education will be recognized for what it’s worth.  You may even be allowed to treat most of the patients that you are qualified to treat.  I know that I am not comfortable with those odds or that strategy.  In Massachusetts alone, there are currently proposals to expand the practice of athletic trainers into what many of us would consider to be physical therapy.  Another proposal would prohibit dry needling by physical therapists.  There are also positive proposals to support physical therapy care to children with disabilities as well as another to require insurers to accept providers to their panels if they are willing to meet the practice and payment conditions of other participants.

Physical therapy professionals must stand together and support each other.  You must contact your elected officials and fight for our right to practice to the full extent of our education and training.  Whether or not a particular bill or regulation impacts your day to day practice, many of these clearly affect the ability of physical therapists to make a difference in the lives of patients.

For those APTAMA members who came to our Scope of Practice day on Beacon Hill, “thank you.”  If you are not involved in the APTAMA’s advocacy efforts, please take the time to get involved today.  Visit www.aptama.org and sign up for our advocacy alerts today.


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