Bottom Line, NSC Is the Conference for Students
3 minute read
National Student Conclave (NSC) is the American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA's) conference "by students, for students," meaning that this conference is planned and organized by physical therapy students for the benefit of their fellow students.
This year, students from across the country gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for NSC where we experienced an unforgettable weekend of networking, lectures, and service opportunities.
NSC is something I'd briefly heard about throughout school, but my program put much more of an emphasis on APTA's Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), so it never occurred to me what a good opportunity going to NSC would be.
I personally opted to attend the Florida Student Conclave each year, which is similar to NSC, but on more of a local level. Throughout the 2 years attending these conclaves, I slowly got more involved with APTA, the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA), and student leadership within my chapter, which helped me develop some amazing relationships with students all throughout the state. As I finally entered my third year of physical therapy school, I decided to take the plunge and attend NSC 2019 at the encouragement of my Florida #PTFam.
Despite being the only student from my program at NSC this year, I actually never felt alone the entire time I was there. I was fortunate enough to have built many great relationships with students beforehand, whether it had been in person or on social media, so I had plenty of people surrounding me. And by attending NSC I met so many students and made many more connections.
It was said a few times throughout conference weekend, that when you put a bunch of like-minded individuals together in a room, the energy in the room is palpable, and I could not agree more.
At my program, I'm considered the "APTA guy." I'm the person who either attends conferences, gets involved in APTA/FPTA events, or greatly advocates for being a member of the professional associations. At NSC, I was surrounded by people just like that and it was honestly the most refreshing experience that I didn't know I needed. I couldn't be more grateful to be able to be around my #PTFam.
Attending NSC also made me realize how much APTA values students.
The first night of conference, APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, kicked off the conference by explaining that 30% of APTA membership was made up of students and that student opinions were not only heard, but valued. She definitely put her money where her mouth was, as she spent most of the conference engaging with as many students as possible. I was fortunate enough to speak with her, and it was amazing to see the busiest person in our profession take her time to answer every question that I had with pleasure and with care and concern.
Lastly, NSC provided me with a great opportunity to get involved and give back to the local community. While at conference, I participated in the Special Olympics FUNfitness screening hosted by APTA. This event may have been one of my favorite things about this conference. I may be alone on this, but I genuinely enjoy being able to volunteer and really show what we are capable of as physical therapists. The fact that we were able to do this with the Special Olympics at the conference made this even better. The screening we performed involved multiple parts including, 5 Times Sit to Stand to assess function, Timed Up and Go, and Tandem Stance for balance and falls risk, the 2-Minute Step Test for aerobic fitness, a flexibility assessment, and, of course, the most important thing we can do: provide education. Another benefit of the screening was that it served as an opportunity to work in groups with students from across the country, at different programs, different years. All the students shared knowledge and reasoning, and the experience let us collaborate in a meaningful way. All of the athletes we screened were amazing individuals who were so appreciative that we took our time to do this. However, I feel like we were the ones who should have been grateful to them for allowing us to work with them.
Bottom line, NSC provided me with amazing opportunities to not only get involved, but also to meet some of the most incredible students nationwide. I plan on keeping each and every connection I have made thus far and look forward to continuing to build them at the next conference!
Riyad Mohamed, SPT, is a physical therapy student at the University of North Florida. He serves as director-at-large of the FPTA Student Special Interest Group. Connect with him on Twitter @riyad_mohamed.