An Atypical Time in an Atypical Way
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
As some love stories go, my own begins at an atypical time and in an atypical way. A beautiful symphony of unmitigated chance and bountiful opportunity.
Five months into my first year of physical therapy school, a chance email from my professor started a soon-to-be momentous cascade.
As a newly-minted graduate student, I had been introduced to state advocacy in my state of North Carolina and was able to sit in a North Carolina Physical Therapy Association district meeting, thanks to my faculty's involvement, but my concept of professional advocacy was uncharismatic at best and my personal "why" was in its beginning stages.
My next experience was at the 2018 APTA House of Delegates (House) in Orlando, Florida.
I applied and was selected to be 1 of 20 House ushers representing physical therapy programs from across the country.
As I arrived at the conference center, a group of us was approached by Roger Herr, secretary on APTA's Board of Directors, in which he dubbed the approaching House members, the "Super Bowl of APTA advocacy."
As the delegates scurried to take their seats, and as the lights came on and the secretary took to the dais, my love for advocacy was ignited.
There were 51 delegations, each ranging from 1 to 40 strong, each delegation size based on state chapter numbers, to comprise a sum of 540 of the most passionate representations APTA has to offer. Representatives from each section and the APTA body were accounted for as well.
During the legislative forum, there was only 1 agenda: to advocate for and improve patient-centered care. Policies that were meticulously crafted by individual delegates or a group of state chapters were hurled to the spotlight. Delegates responsibly stood their ground and carefully deliberated each proposed motion or position statement to protect and advance our profession.
My fellow ushers and I were tasked with different responsibilities. Our main objectives were to make sure communication between the delegations and appropriate parties were prompt, and that each delegate's vote was properly accounted for. We were tasked with providing stability to the ebb and flow of the House, and to do so with swiftness and vigor. Serving the highest governing body of the profession, meant doing sprints in white button-downs and khaki pants. To me it was an honor to be part of it.
A year's worth of planning and coordinated efforts culminated into 2 days of organized deliberation. I was given a glimpse of what professional advocacy looks like at the highest level, and that through collective collaboration the sky's the limit.
Fast-forward to the present, I'm a second-year student with 4 conferences under my belt and many on the way, working with multiple committees at the national and state level and helping to extend the reaches of my physical therapy program to improve the community around us, 1 person at a time.
The annual House is an event unlike any other. The Super Bowl of advocacy allowed me the opportunity to discover my why, while giving me friendships and mentorship that will follow me to the end of my professional career.
I'm glad I opened that email from my professor and took a chance on myself. I was introduced to my #PTFam and shown the ropes on how to propel our profession to a brighter future. And we're just getting started.
Andrew Jones, SPT, is a student at Elon University and serves on the APTA Student Assembly Advocacy Project Committee. You can connect with Andrew on Twitter at @AndrewJonesSPT.
Want to share your APTA love story? Submit it here! Haven't had such an experience or moment? We encourage you to contact Kaylee Pobocik, SPT, Director of Membership, APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors to discover APTA value and opportunities.