Mike Edwards, PT (Waukesha, WI)
As I reflect on my experience over the years I realize that there is more to being a professional physical therapist than being a good clinician.
It started over 40 years ago when the director of the physical therapist education program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison dragged me to my first Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association (WPTA) business meeting. It was a relatively small gathering; less than 5% of the current membership was in attendance. At the time, I had no idea how my future would be changed by this one "required" encounter with my future peers.
One of the hot topics at the time included how the implementation of Title 18 (Medicare) and Title 19 (Medicaid), enacted a few years earlier, were changing our practice. I learned how APTA works at the national level, and WPTA at the state level, to influence the development of rules being promulgated in association with these laws that were going to affect me.
It was clear that I could influence my future, and the future of the profession, but only if I became a member. As a guest, I could listen, but as a member I could speak, and it was evident to me that members who spoke up were being heard.
I became a member and began networking with my peers. I volunteered at the district and state levels. The respect and trust I earned from my colleagues led to many opportunities that were fulfilling to me personally and professionally. I worked with a task force in my state that shaped a problem-oriented approach for Medicare intermediaries to use for payment review, which ultimately was used as a model nationally.
My peers elected me to a variety of leadership roles in the association, where I had further opportunity to influence positive changes. I am fortunate to have served as charter member of Wisconsin's first physical therapist licensing board, as chapter president, and as chapter delegate. Currently I serve as WPTA's chief delegate and practice committee chair.
These opportunities would not have been available to me—none of them would have been known to me—if I hadn't joined APTA and become an active participating member.
Mike Edwards, PT, is the manager of inpatient therapy services in a hospital system in Waukesha, Wisconsin, that serves the greater Waukesha area (population 500,000 plus). He also has management responsibility for outpatient neuroscience and pain management programs.
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