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  • APTA-Backed Bill to Provide Diversity-Based Scholarships, Stipends Introduced in House

    APTA's efforts to create a physical therapy profession as diverse as the society it serves could be getting a significant legislative boost: a new bill introduced in the US House of Representatives seeks to provide $5 million per year in scholarships and stipends aimed at increasing the number of students from underrepresented populations in physical therapy and other allied health education programs.

    Introduced by Reps Bobby Rush (IL) and Cathy McMorris Rogers (WA), the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019 would set aside money in the Health Resources and Services Administration specifically for use by accredited education programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology, and speech-language pathology. Those programs would in turn issue scholarships or stipends to students from underrepresented populations including racial or ethnic minorities and students from disadvantaged backgrounds including economic status and disability. APTA, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) were instrumental in crafting language for the bill.

    The legislation falls squarely in line with APTA's strategic plan, which identifies greater provider diversity as necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the physical therapy profession.

    "We must build a diverse profession by ensuring there are opportunities that allow for inclusion of all individuals who want to become physical therapists and physical therapist assistants," said APTA President Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, in a joint news release issued by APTA, AOTA, ASHA, and AAA. "The population we serve is evolving and becoming more diverse. We know that patients who receive care from providers who share their racial and ethnic backgrounds tend to respond better to treatment. That's one reason this legislation is so important, and we applaud the representatives who have introduced it."

    APTA government affairs staff will track the bill's progress and share opportunities for grassroots advocacy. The association will add information to its Legislative Action Center later this week for members to use to support the legislation.


    • I hope this legislation will support education at the PTA/COTA level as well.

      Posted by Laurie Daigle on 7/10/2019 3:25 PM

    • Thank you Dr. Dunn

      Posted by Phyllis Kitchens Thurmond on 7/10/2019 3:32 PM

    • I hope 'diversity' will be all inclusive and therefore include not only people of color but LGBTQ+ individuals as well.

      Posted by Jeannie Senter on 7/10/2019 3:36 PM

    • I love this!!! So excited! As a 2nd year minority PT student, I would love to get involved in advocating for this bill!

      Posted by Megan Francisco on 7/10/2019 3:39 PM

    • I am very heartened by this.

      Posted by Louise Brown-Smith on 7/10/2019 3:56 PM

    • I applaud the efforts at diversifying our profession. I also feel very strongly about assuring that any individual applying for and receiving these scholarships be as qualified as any other applicant regardless of economic status, disability, race or ethnic background. We must first assure that any individual wanting to apply is qualified and not solely on the fact that they may meet one of the criteria mentioned in the Workforce Diversity Act. If we do not consider that fact, we are not serving our patients or communities with quality clinicians. The academic programs of PT,OT,ST have always had the best and brightest students applying, and that standard should never be overlooked for any reason. I'm all in favor of any student from an underrepresented status receiving these scholarships, as long as they are qualified candidates.

      Posted by Michael on 7/10/2019 4:50 PM

    • Sweet!

      Posted by Gustavo Martinez on 7/10/2019 6:04 PM

    • I very much support increasing diversity in healthcare professions with a particular importance to the Physical Therapy. The physical therapist has the longest total one to one encounter time with the patient among all other medical specialities or healthcare professions. This always requires above average cultural competency and communication skills to gain the patient trust and most cooperation.

      Posted by Mohamed Hassan on 7/10/2019 7:44 PM

    • This is great! I'm one of 4 racial minorities, and we have two ethnic minorities, out of a class of 60. When asked what surprised us most about PT school (so far), one of the other minorities in our class said that she was most surprised about how homogeneous the makeup of our class is, especially since we are in a city that is very diverse; though economically depressed.

      Posted by Natasha Holiday -> CNP`AF on 7/11/2019 2:10 PM

    • I am all for diversity that is equal. Meaning regardless of the color of the skin, gender, religion or sexual orientation, everyone must possess at least the minimum qualifications in order to enter the profession. Everyone should be equal prior to entering the schools algorithm for acceptance. I would be resentful towards the profession if we lowered our standards of acceptance only to improve diversity of the workforce. Everyone in this profession earned their way into the profession. I ask that this remains true as the profession attempts to diversify.

      Posted by Vincent Gutierrez on 7/13/2019 6:57 PM

    • Patients do well not because a given PT looks like them and shares their beliefs, they do well with a PT who is skilled, respects them and values their well being.

      Posted by MaryEllen Axner on 7/13/2019 10:19 PM

    • Some of the comments I’m reading are coded with racism, and demonstrate that most people are ignorant of the processes of affirmative action.

      Posted by Ian Falchiere on 7/16/2019 12:44 PM

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