In what some Board members described as a "maturation" of the relationship between physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and association governance, the APTA Board of Directors voted to bring bylaw amendments to the 2015 House of Delegates that would enable chapters to allow PTAs to serve as delegates in the House, grant PTAs a full vote at the component level, and enable PTAs to run for non-officer Board of Directors positions.
These decisions and others intended to increase the value of APTA membership to PTAs came after a lengthy discussion of recommendations made to the Board by the Physical Therapist Assistant Board Work Group, which was charged with exploring issues related to the goals of the Physical Therapist Assistant Caucus. The work group focused on 3 major issues: postgraduate development of the PTA, promotion and protection of the work performed by a PTA when a PTA is involved in a plan of care, and active participation in association activities relating to the PTA, including decision-making.
The majority of the Board's discussion was related to 3 major recommendations that addressed PTA participation in their components and in the House of Delegates. The work group's recommendations were intended to make it possible for PTAs to have a full vote within their components (currently PTAs eligible to vote are allotted a half-vote), and to create a way for PTAs to serve as voting chapter delegates in the House (currently only sections, which cannot vote in the House, can choose to have PTAs serve as delegates). Within each recommendation, the Board was presented with an option—basically, to create a bylaws amendment that would mandate the change at the component level, or to offer an amendment that would make the change optional for components. In the end, the Board voted for options that allowed for more choice.
Before taking the votes on the most significant recommendations, APTA President Paul Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS, called for an "open forum" to allow Board members to discuss their perspectives on the broad issues of PTA involvement. Board members generally agreed with the sentiment expressed by Director Mary C. Sinnott, PT, DPT, MEd, who said that "it's about time we look at realities" and "take down some of the walls" that have prevented PTA members from full participation.
At the same time, directors questioned 1 recommendation option that called for a seat on the Board of Directors to be set aside for a PTA only. That particular option was ruled out by the Board early on as an approach that would run counter to the idea that Board members serve at-large and not as representatives of constituent groups. PTA Caucus Chief Delegate Amy Smith, PTA, BS, agreed, noting that "Eligibility to serve is a greater equality."
In deliberating the recommendations, the Board repeatedly came back to 2 considerations: the distinction between the PT-PTA relationship in practice and the PT-PTA relationship in association governance; and the distinction between having a PTAs represent their components in the House and having them represent the PTA as its own component.
In the end, the Board voted to draft bylaw amendment proposals for the 2015 House of Delegates that would allow components to provide PTA members a full vote at the component level, make PTAs eligible to serve as chapter delegates at the discretion of each component, and makes PTAs eligible to run for nonofficer positions on the Board . The eligibility proposals will also contain language that would eliminate the PTA caucus by 2020. The Board also agreed to explore the possibility of creating a "Section-like" component for PTAs in 2015.
Other work group recommendations approved by the Board include an effort to collect better data on the value of the PT/PTA team regarding utilization, and that a PT/PTA team toolkit communicating the value of the relationship be "actively supported" and promoted to APTA components.
In another discussion related to the PTA, the Board heard a report on the feasibility of transitioning to a PTA entry-level baccalaureate degree. The report is the result of RC 20-12, a charge from the 2012 House to explore a PTA baccalaureate degree.
In reviewing the implications of the baccalaureate option, the report calls for a practice analysis and identification of best practices to help inform any decision abut changes in degree level.
To see the full discussion on this and other topics from the April Board of Directors meeting, watch the archived livestream of all open sessions.
Editor's note: this article was changed from its originally-released version to reflect the Board's discussion of a "Section-like" component for PTAs.
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