Section of the Month: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section
Each month we profile one of APTA's 18 sections:
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section (CVP) ... From a Student's Perspective:
What does the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section have to offer its student members?
Leadership opportunities for #FreshPT(s) include participation in section committees:
- Legislative and Reimbursement
- Public Relations
- Public Relations
- Specialty Council for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy
Discounts on section-sponsored programming and products:
- Preconference courses at CSM
- Monitoring Clinical Response to Exercise booklet, Heart Owner's Manual, and more
Sponsorship for student dues
- Any active or affiliate member of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section can sponsor a student by offering to pay their section dues for a year
A message from CVP Leadership:
"To quote Mary Massery, 'If you can't breathe you can't function' and this applies to every single patient you will see. If your patient can't breathe and heart doesn't beat, they can't participate in PT. Our section welcomes involvement from students who can volunteer at our booth or participate in article reviews. We also have our own blog at cvpptblog.com and the Cardiopulmonary PT Journal podcast. The podcast basically gives you free access to articles. All students should join this section!"
- Nancy Smith, PT, DPT, GCS, Co-Chair of Public Relations Committee
"All students will treat patients with a heart and lungs and you will need how to treat them. Vitals are vital!"
- Bobby Belarmino, PT, DPT, MA, CCS
To learn more visit the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section website.
You Are Invited to the 2017 National Advocacy Dinners
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
When I stepped into the classroom on my first day as a first-semester physical therapist student, the fact that I secured a study group and reviewed material prior to the lab each day exceeded any personal expectations I had set. As the second semester rolled around, the bigger picture came more into focus as I opened my mind to a reality beyond the classroom—a reality impacting the scope that I was preparing to practice within, and the patients I soon would be treating. Later in the semester, I was awarded a scholarship to attend APTA's Federal Advocacy Forum. Witnessing hundreds of clinicians and students stand side-by-side and storm the US Capitol to speak with congressmen about legislation impacting physical therapy, was more exciting than any lecture, textbook, or presentation slide. It was real life, talking about real patients, and meeting real students and clinicians ready to stand up for the profession we've all dedicated our lives to.
Perhaps it was fate or serendipity, but somehow I ended up attending APTA's Combined Sections Meeting the very next month and spotted an APTA Student Assembly mixer on the conference schedule. I thought maybe I could meet some students and enjoy interesting conversations, and let's be real, grab free snacks after a day of lectures. That evening, I connected with other students and shared my struggle of how to show fellow classmates how fun and rewarding advocacy can actually be. By the end of the night, my classmates and I heard from several others about a student-led initiative to simultaneously host National Advocacy Dinners (NAD) across the country. It's a creative and fun way to inform students and professionals about the advocacy issues affecting our profession, while also having a great meal with your classmates and local physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. In no way did we have a plan, but we flew home to Dallas with the goal of planning a dinner for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in just over 4 weeks with no budget and a significant amount of excitement to share a message.
Within a week and after a couple of brief conversations, we secured donations from our program's student physical therapy organization, and our program agreed to sponsor the catering for our dinner. Students from nearby University of Texas - Southwestern volunteered to provide beverages for the dinner and spread the word to their cohorts. Next, we reserved our "free" campus auditorium and lobby for the location and picked the date. Finally, I reached out to our state chapter to coordinate a panel of clinicians, chapter leadership, and student advocates to discuss advocacy. From that point on, all it took was emailing, networking, inviting local physical therapy programs, and distributing flyers. The APTA Student Assembly Professional Advocacy Committee was available to provide access to guidance on hosting an event, topics to cover, slide presentations to use, and even fill-in flyers to print.
Fast-forward to the day of our Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex National Advocacy Dinner. After all was said and done, we ended up hosting the largest NAD of 2016, with 94 people sitting together for 90 minutes, eating Chipotle burrito bowls and discussing why advocacy matters and how we can get involved. Three physical therapy programs attended, faculty was present, and state chapter leadership sat alongside clinicians and students discussing the importance of advocacy from different perspectives.
The enthusiasm for getting involved in advocating for our profession continued long after our NAD event. Following the dinner, some student attendees reached out with appreciation for breaking down a complex topic into why and how-to terms. Several questions came in from attendees asking how to get involved in advocating for our profession on the local level. And later that summer, our school took third place in the PT-PAC Flash Action Strategy for most student donations made toward advocacy. I was so proud of my classmates!
This year my classmates and I are planning another great NAD event! Again, we hope to draw a big crowd and have a great discussion about advocacy.
The 2017 NAD will be held March 29-May 3, 2017. The APTA Student Assembly Professional Advocacy Committee is currently working hard to build even more resources to provide those who are interested in hosting a dinner this year. If you think that attending or hosting a dinner sounds fun, it is! To find out more about NAD, to plan an event in your area, to find out if an event will be held near you so you can attend, or to learn more about how to get involved in advocacy as a student, visit the NAD website at www.apta.org/AdvocacyDinner or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jennifer Webb, SPT, APTA Professional Advocacy Project Committee Chair. You can find Jennifer on Twitter at @JenniferWebbPT.
Owning Your School Experience: How 2 Students Designed an Elective for Their DPT Program
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes 30 seconds
It was a dark and stormy night, we had a midterm the next day, and all we could think about was what we would rather be doing than studying. It was in this moment that inspiration struck my classmate Joseph Lipsky and I to start an elective class. The concept was simple: What are the skills necessary to run a practice that doesn't sacrifice patient-centered care and is still profitable?
With this idea and question in mind, Joseph and I spoke with the Columbia University (CU) physical therapy program faculty to arrange a means by which business owners and entrepreneurs in the physical therapy profession could speak with the students in our program. We also reached out to leaders in the area to gauge whether or not they had an interest in speaking. The response from the faculty, leaders, and other students was really positive.
It was about a year between that moment of inspiration while studying and the first elective event. We were tasked with creating the course objectives, writing a syllabus, and gathering student interest through marketing and word-of-mouth. We utilized existing means to spread the word about the course such as our school newsletter, email, and social media. We aim to keep CU faculty informed about future happenings as much as possible, so they can spread the word as well. We'll admit, for us, the biggest challenge was striking the balance with our fellow classmates between being students and course directors of this elective. Although, we quickly learned that by being ourselves and explaining how this class is meant to benefit everyone, that wasn't really a concern and our classmates were receptive. Through dedication, constant collaboration, and teamwork, Joseph and I were able to make our vision a reality.
A year and a lot of hard work later, the CU Private Practice elective was created.
The course is structured around 3 key concepts:
- Providing students with the opportunity to learn about the business and finance side of physical therapy from local leaders in our field.
- Provide students with the opportunity to dedicate school time to working on postgraduation goals.
- Provide students with a platform to network with one another and students from other professional programs.
The great thing about this course is that we designed it so the students are in the driver's seat. Students who take the course play an active role in choosing the topics we focus on and they get to help select the guest speakers, with guidance from the faculty, of course. Because of this, the course is adaptive to new ideas and allows students to learn more about topics that help them fulfill their professional interests and goals.
The CU Private Practice elective had its first official event on January 17, 2017. The guest speaker was New York Physical Therapy Association President Michael Mattia who spoke about the future of the physical therapy profession and how it is rapidly changing. Other topics being explored this year will include leadership in our field, women leaders in private practice, different business models, and interprofessional networking events.
While Joseph and I are thrilled with our accomplishment of getting the course approved and actually holding our first event, we now realize that the hard work has just begun. We hope that by starting the discussion of business education now we will better prepare ourselves and fellow classmates for the changing health care environment we are about to enter. We see that this course has room to grow and evolve, but we hope that our class and others like it will better prepare ourselves and our classmates to life postgraduation.
If you're like us, now all that is said and done and our course is up and running, you may be wondering: Who in their right mind takes a study break to conceptualize a whole new course?
Want to know more about how we created the CU Private Practice elective? Comment below and we'll give you more details.
Shaun Whited, SPT, Columbia University. You can find Shaun on Twitter at: @Shaun_Whited, Joseph Lipsky, SPT, Columbia University, APTA Student Assembly Core Ambassador - New York. You can find Joseph on Twitter at: @Joseph_Lipsky1 or on his website at josephlipsky.com.
How-To Guide to Getting Students Involved in Your State
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Student leaders in New York tell us how they ramped up student involvement and engagement in their state, and how you can too.
2016 was a big year for physical therapy students in New York. Students from all over the state began getting involved and engaged more than ever, capped by the formation of a student special interest group (SSIG). At the root of this momentum is a small but growing number of students who have recognized the power in pooling their efforts.
"New York has one of the highest numbers of physical therapist and physical therapist assistant programs," says Joe Lipsky, New York's APTA Student Assembly Core Ambassador, "yet so many schools are isolated and fail to utilize APTA and the New York Physical Therapy Association (NYPTA) networks." That may soon change, as the newly formed SSIG makes connections between each program in the state.
As the SSIG development team, we want to share our story and encourage you to get involved at the local, state, and national level.
All it takes is meeting a few of the right people
Last fall, Lipsky brought together students in New York City to spread awareness of the opioid epidemic and bring awareness to APTA's #ChoosePT campaign outside of Good Morning America and The Today Show. It was a rare interschool project that got students talking about other ways that they could collaborate—and it was fun.
Simultaneously, a like-minded group of students were showing up at other local events—PT Pub Nights and the NYPTA Board of Director's meeting—and it wasn't long before students began asking why a formal interschool organization had not yet been established. This was when the New York Chapter SSIG was born.
Two students, Mike Makher and Bronté Miller, were particularly dedicated to improving communication between the different New York programs. They formed a student team and reached out to programs across the state, building contacts at a majority of physical therapy programs in the state. When the formation of a SSIG was officially proposed to the NYPTA, the SSIG team sent a petition out asking for 20 student signatures. The petition received over 100 signatures on the first day and currently has over 150, including responses from nearly half the programs in the state. The SSIG was provisionally approved by the NYPTA, and will be sponsored by NYPTA’s president, Michael Mattia.
You don't have to know everything to get started
"I knew that I wanted to get involved, but my classmates and I were confused about exactly how to go about that," says Miller. They didn't start out with a perfect idea of what they wanted to create, but the peers they met and the conversations that grew out of those encounters gave them direction and resources. Now, Miller and Makher lead the SSIG development team, a core group of 10 students from across the state.
We want it to be normal—even expected—that students from different schools communicate regularly and collaborate, because we've seen that real progress can be made when we are all working together toward a common goal. In this case, our goal is to increase student engagement on a state and national level, develop and promote involvement opportunities, and enhance communication and networking among students from across the state.
Meeting up is a blast
Several events are already being planned by the SSIG to foster student collaboration and professional development. Foremost among them is an effort to organize annual student conclaves in New York City. The organizers, Emily Rubin and Max Dunfey, aim to bring the physical therapist and physical therapist assistant community together with more regularity. Rubin often mentions how important face-to-face meetings are: "Physical therapists are a relatively small professional community. We should all know each other—these are people we'll work with for the rest of our lives."
While the large national conferences are often difficult for students to attend for reasons like time, travel, and money, the SSIG hopes that arranging regular, New York-centric conclaves in a different location each year will fill the gap for many students. The goal is to help students network and learn more about the profession, while also encouraging them to play more active roles in the profession on a state and national level.
We want to move physical therapy forward
The students on the SSIG development team have a common interest in pushing our profession forward. We look at some of the issues facing our profession today—poor understanding about what we do from both the public and other medical professionals, expensive education, deficient pay compared to the value we bring, a lack of referrals for patients who could truly benefit from physical therapy, nonstandardized practice—and we see problems that can only be solved through organization and collective action. The SSIG is a way for us to make an impact, big or small, as students and future professionals.
The SSIG will represent New York students in conversations about those larger issues. We want new graduates to see themselves as part of an organized team when they enter the field. And right now, most of all, we want all students to know that the barrier for entry in the SSIG is low. All it takes to be a part of this larger community is simply showing up and being willing to participate. Please join us!
Get involved now
New York students, sign up for the SSIG mailing list to stay informed. If you’d like to get involved in planning and organizing, send an email to the SSIG team. Everyone is welcome to participate!
Students in other states with SSIGs, your local APTA chapter will have information on its website about current SSIG leaders. Get in touch with them about becoming involved. Remember, you don't have to know everything to get started. Check if your state has a student special interest group.
Students in states without SSIGs, consider this a remarkable opportunity to take a leadership role in your profession by creating a SSIG. Put together a team and reach out to your local APTA chapter for support. If you want to move physical therapy forward, you have to organize!
Bronte Miller, SPT, and Michael Makher, SPT, New York Chapter SSIG development leaders. Bronte and Michael can be found on Twitter at: @BronteSPT and @MTMDPT2018. Max Dunfey, SPT, and Emily Rubin, SPT, New York student conclave leaders. Max and Emily can be found on Twitter at: @MaxDunfey and @Emily_Rubin. Joe Lipsky, SPT, APTA Student Assembly New York Core Ambassador. Joe can be found on Twitter at: @Joseph_Lipsky1 or via his website at: josephlipsky.com.
Finding Your Moment: Passion for #PTadvocacy
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Two years ago, I began attending physical therapy school at Sacred Heart University (SHU) in Trumbull, Connecticut. Naturally, I initially focused on the huge transition and challenges that physical therapy school presented. After a few months I became acclimated to the problem-based learning curriculum at SHU, the packed schedule, and constant studying. It slowly went from overwhelming to manageable, and as I started to become more comfortable, I realized that I wanted to do more than just be a student. I wanted to participate and help further my profession—only, I didn't quite know how.
After finishing my first year at SHU, I started to look for ways that I could become involved and began researching ways to get connected as a student with our profession. I found out about APTA's PT Day on Capitol Hill, an event that brings physical therapy professionals and students together to help advocate for our profession and the patients we work with. Together, we rally on Capitol Hill to speak to lawmakers about the value of the physical therapy profession and how we can transform society to improve the human experience, while at the same time help to decrease the cost of health care across all populations. I was immediately hooked and knew that I wanted to participate. My classmates Jenn Helft, Regina Siciliano, and I decided to take a road trip to Washington, DC. We were excited for this opportunity and thought that we had an idea of what to expect, but we could never predict how much this experience would shape our passion and goals as future physical therapy professionals.
The night before we went to Capitol Hill, we attended a preparatory meeting to learn about the next day's adventure. APTA's staff did a terrific job in mapping out the day and educating everyone on the pertinent issues for which we would advocate. We received tips on speaking to our senators and representatives and how to advocate for the physical therapy profession. One message that really stuck with me is that we all have a story. We don't all have to know the ins and outs of advocacy and politics. The important thing is to make a connection with your legislators, so they understand our priorities as a profession. We learned so much that night and we gained some phenomenal mentors along the way. They gave us guidance and challenged us to engage in conversation with legislators. After the preparatory session, 1 mentor turned to the 3 of us and told us we would be speaking to our senators and representatives about student-related issues, including the Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act. I did not expect to be an active participant in lobbying to our congressmen and was very nervous! We returned to the hotel to study up on everything we had just learned.
The next day we woke up bright and early to join more than 1,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy on Capitol Hill. Upon arriving, I immediately realized that it far exceeded anything I expected. There were hundreds of fellow students and professionals who were incredibly intelligent, passionate, who wanted to make our professional voice heard in Washington. It was amazing to see how many people are involved, interested, and engaged in furthering the physical therapy profession. I walked away from this experience realizing that we aren't "just students," rather we are future professionals and we can start making a difference now. I realized that we ALL have a voice and together we can truly be a force. We are doing ourselves, our patients, and our profession a disservice if we wait to get involved until after we graduate. It starts now—we are the future of this profession and we can make a difference today. Can you pinpoint a moment that changed your experience as a student physical therapist or student physical therapist assistant? If you can't think of the moment don't worry, it's coming.
The 2015 PT Day on Capitol Hill was my moment—I didn't know it at the time, but it truly changed my entire student career. I became passionate about advocating for our profession and patients. It led me to become more involved at both the state and national level, and eventually a run for my current position as student PT delegate of the APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors. I learned that you just have to start, show up, and get involved. After that the floodgates open and amazing experiences, networking, and opportunities follow. Perhaps you can discover your moment at this year's Federal Advocacy Forum (FAF) held on March 26-28, 2017, in Washington, DC. Join myself, students of physical therapy, and professionals in rallying together to advocate for our profession and for the patients who we work with! To gain additional information and to register for FAF, please visit apta.org/FederalForum. Don't forget to review some of the talking points for this year's FAF found in the 2017-2018 APTA public policy priorities document. I welcome any physical therapy student to reach out to me at: email@example.com to discuss the Federal Advocacy Forum.
Allison Breakey, SPT, Student PT Delegate, 2016-2017 APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors
Highlights from February #XchangeSA chat
Why did you choose to pursue a career in physical therapy? I would bet that most people would say that patient care is their top priority. If so, do you have strategies in place to critically evaluate your clinical skills to ensure that you will be the best physical therapist you can be? How can you keep yourself accountable and ensure you continue to provide the highest level of care to your patients? What elements should be present in an expert provider? During the February #XchangeSA chat we talked with the one and only Jeff Moore, PT, DPT on this topic.
Also, be sure to check out Jeff's recent APTA Student Assembly Pulse blog post on developing your clinical skills.
I Didn't Choose to Be a Travel PT, It Chose Me
Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes
It started with back pain and then quickly progressed to paralysis from the waist down. He was admitted to the hospital and was told by the physician, "You’ll never be able to walk again." In the following days those 7 words echoed in his mind. You see, this young gentleman, let's call him David, has been blind since the age of 5. David thought to himself, "Now this?" He wanted to give up, but his family didn't let him. His mind flooded with thoughts of sadness, disappointment, and anger. In the midst of this emotional roller-coaster David's family convinced him to go to inpatient rehab.
David presented to inpatient rehab without any return of his lower extremities. His family lived 2 hours away and could only visit on the weekends. He felt alone in an unfamiliar environment. At first he was quiet, reserved, and kept to himself. When he ended up on my caseload I was nervous. This young man would only be the second person I had worked with who had sustained a spinal cord injury (SCI). Despite my nerves I was determined to help him regain his independence. I dusted off O’Sullivan, took a course on SCI, studied APTA's clinical practice guidelines on SCIs, and called my mentors for advice. Over the next few weeks we developed a relationship based on patience and trust. Each session I presented him with a new challenge. Although he was initially reluctant, he completely trusted me. Because of that trust, we were able to achieve the impossible. Yes, we were able to walk.
For the duration of his stay, David's family visited him on Saturdays when he didn't have therapy scheduled. So one day I decided that David would participate in therapy when his family was present, so they could witness his progress firsthand. On that Saturday David pushed his wheelchair out into the hallway, and I placed his walker in front of him. Then I asked him to stand. There he stood, all 6'4" of him, as he towered over my 5'2" frame. David's family squealed in excitement. Then he took the first steps as his brother chanted with tears streaming down his face, "I knew that you could do it, bro." As they cheered him on, I was overcome with feelings of pure joy. I thought to myself, "This is why I became a physical therapist. I am so blessed. I love my job." Opportunities come to those who are looking for them and to those who are prepared for the challenges that come with those opportunities.
This is one of my most cherished experiences from my time as a travel PT. Since then I've had the privilege to work with many more patients from all over the country and the world. But here's the thing, while I'm excited by the prospect of what's to come on a daily basis in my life as a travel PT, I didn't choose this career path, it chose me.
Being a travel PT was an option I mulled over and over in my head, but left me with much uncertainty. I heard mixed reviews about traveling as a new grad. Some said, "It’s a great opportunity to travel and see the country." Others said, "You should get some experience beforehand to better prepare yourself for the fast pace of working as a traveling PT." As if this wasn’t confusing enough, I also thought about everything from a residency to a permanent position to PRN positions. I didn't even know where I wanted to practice. I was overwhelmed by the limitless possibilities that physical therapy has to offer, and not quite sure where to start.
Before graduation my classmates secured jobs, and I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I took the boards, passed, and I still had no clarity about what was next for me. However, I did know that I was going to APTA’s NEXT conference that summer and I had 2 medical mission trips planned: one in Peru and another in Haiti. That bought me a few months after graduation, but I didn’t really have a plan for a job. I was debilitated by fear. Why couldn't I make a decision? What if I make the wrong decision? So not making a decision would be better than making any decision, right? Wrong.
The day after graduation I met with my professor, Dr Beverly McNeal, and she told me exactly what I needed to hear: "The beauty of our profession is that you can go down one path and if it doesn’t work out, you'll know and then you can try something else. None of this is permanent." Woah! I mean I knew that, but those words finally sank in and had meaning. I finally had clarity and vision. I was going to pursue being a travel PT to allow me the flexibility to serve on international service learning trips and explore the world at my own leisure. I made a decision and didn't look back.
Today, I can safely say that I made the right decision for me and the start of my career. On a routine basis I get to travel, meet new and interesting people, care for people with a variety of conditions, and I get to make an impact globally as a physical therapist.
So how do you know if being a travel PT is for you? It is not designed for everyone and not everyone is designed for travel therapy. From my experience I’d like to pose to you a few questions that might help determine if being a travel PT is for you. A thorough and honest self-assessment is necessary before you decide to jump in 2 feet first.
Check yourself # 1: What’s your learning style?
- Do you learn best from observation or from trial and error? It’s no surprise that you may find that those who enjoy being a travel PT are the ones who like to dive right in. Companies are paying you top dollar to fill a void, so they expect results. They're looking for someone who will maximize the profit for their facility (aka "productivity.") Speaking of profit, if money is a large factor in choosing your career path, being a travel PT may not be for you.
- When you were on clinical rotations, how did you learn? Did you find yourself struggling to learn the new documentation system while treating patients? Were you overwhelmed? As a traveling PT you are expected to document, evaluate, treat, and discharge on your first couple of days, with minimal orientation. It's reality.
Check yourself # 2: How do you deal with stress?
- Do you crack under pressure or do you rise to the occasion? This relates to the above information. The turnaround between orientation and managing a full caseload is quick. Did you blink? Yeah, it's that fast. Does that thought give you heart palpitations or does it get you excited? Skilled nursing facilities (SNF) have the highest productivity rates and expect 90% to 95%. Did that make your heart stop? Then let’s rethink this. If not then go ahead and proceed. Many travel PT contracts are based on SNF; however, there are opportunities in other settings including home health, acute, outpatient, and inpatient rehab. I've been extremely fortunate to extend my contract in IP rehab.
Check yourself # 3: How do you deal with CHANGE?
- Do you think of living in a new place as a new adventure and look for opportunities to meet new people? Or are you a homebody? If you answered yes to either of the above questions, then traveling therapy may be perfect for you. You'll live away from anything and everything you’ve ever known. The adjustment professionally and personally is dramatic and normal for a travel PT, but if it’s for you it will be well worth it.
- It's important to identify and cater to your social and emotional needs. If you're an introvert, then you'll have plenty of time to reboot in the solitude of living in a new and unfamiliar place. If you're an extrovert, you'll seek opportunities to meet people no matter where you go.
- If you've never left home and have only lived close to home with familiar people and places, then I would find a placement closer to family and friends to help comfort you during this transition period.
- If you've only moved to a new city for college or graduate school, that's completely different. You experience the rigors of a physical therapy program together through presentations, projects, case studies, exams, and practicals. It's kind of like boot camp and only your classmates will truly understand your struggles. Through experiences you develop a support system. You're forced to spend time together and will inadvertently make friends. Work is different. Depending on the work culture, your coworkers may or may not be interested in hanging out after work. Life as a professional is different than that as a student. Know that and embrace it.
I'm an advocate for doing whatever is best for you. Like any experience it can be what you want it to be. However, you must have a recruiter and support system that will listen and be your champion. Before you choose to pursue this career path, get a good sense of your professional and life goals. Once you've got those laid out, stick to them! Let your goals pave the way.
Being a travel PT has been one of the most rewarding and inspiring experiences of my life, and I can't wait to see what the future holds.
April Fajardo, PT, DPT, is a traveling physical therapist with a doctor of physical therapy degree, who currently works at Carondelet St. Mary’s inpatient rehab facility in Tucson, Arizona. She served on 7 international service-learning trips to Peru, Guatemala, Brazil (2 times), and Haiti (3 times). She is author of "The Vagabonding DPT" blog, which was inspired by Tim Ferriss' interview with Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding. In March 2017, she'll travel to Central America for a few months to explore and to serve with the Quique Ceron Foundation, in partnership with Move Together, as well as to learn Spanish. You can find April on Twitter at: @AprilFajardoPT.
Planting the Seed for Student Involvement: Develop Your Green Thumb
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
I will graduate from physical therapy school in about 3 months. As graduation gets closer, I often reflect on my professional involvement and engagement at the state and national levels. For me, it's been about the journey and not just the destination. The events, the programs, the students, and the mentors, all played a role in planting the seed for my passion to get involved in our profession.
I recently had a phone conversation with a first-year physical therapy student who wanted to learn about my experience in getting involved with APTA. Our conversation lasted about 30 minutes and it started with a simple question, "So how did you first get involved?"
Easy enough. My first involvement experience happened rather quickly for me. I was in my first year as a physical therapist student when I attended the California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) annual conference. Many physical therapist and physical therapist assistant programs encourage their students to attend conferences to gain more exposure to their future profession, so this was my opportunity to do just that.
Looking back my answer to his question was correct, but it was not the best answer.
My journey into our physical therapy community began when I attended my physical therapy school orientation in May 2014. The speaker challenged us with a call to action: become APTA student members. Well, not just student members, but become invested student members. I still didn't understand much about APTA, but that call to action laid the groundwork for my passion to serve in APTA and CPTA. I didn’t know it at the time, but that 1 person’s call to action planted the seed for my future involvement.
That is just my story. I have had the opportunity to work with many students, all who have their own stories about how they initially got involved, and more often than not, it started with meeting someone or participating in an event that set the stage for them as well. However, sometimes encouraging students to get involved isn’t as simple as presenting a challenge or meeting other people who are engaged and involved. Back to that gardening analogy, it takes more than just planting a seed to allow it to sprout and bloom.
I definitely don't have a green thumb, but below are some simple ways you and your classmates can step up your involvement and engagement at a local, state, or national level.
Create strong roots. Get first-year students involved. Help them find value in involvement instead of just telling them to be involved. Share the APTA Student Assembly (APTASA) social media handles with them. Invite them to watch an #XchangeSA chat with you. Send them a link to the APTASA Pulse blog. Those are some of the many ways that you can promote involvement. Want more? Contact your state Core Ambassador or the APTASA Board of Directors; they have a ton of ideas to share.
Nourish the seed so it can grow. Connect with program, local, state, and national physical therapy student leaders. There are many students—class presidents, Core Ambassadors, student special interest groups, and the APTASA Board of Directors—with the mission of encouraging student involvement. Hosting events such as PT Lunch N' Learns, journal clubs, and even community service events will keep students engaged.
Give the seed time to grow. Some students don't catch the involvement bug until their second or third year of school. Don't get discouraged if you find it difficult to encourage students to get involved. Students may find value in involvement as they get further along in their programs when they go through clinicals and gain more exposure to the many ways that being an engaged APTA member can benefit them.
Know that not all seeds grow the same. Don't feel like you need to convert your whole cohort into super involved APTA members. Planting the seed for involvement in 1 student is a big deal. Who knows, maybe that 1 person will be the first of many that you are able to inspire.
So in 2017, I challenge all physical therapy students to be that individual to not only plant the seed of involvement for your fellow classmates, but to help nourish the seed. Be that individual who inspires someone else to find value in their membership and to take ownership of their profession.
Matt Downey, SPT, attends California State University – Long Beach and serves as the APTA Student Assembly Core Ambassador for California. You can find Matt on Twitter at @MattyLMNOP.
What #PTFam Means to Me
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
If you’re not on Twitter, you might have seen references to #PTFam elsewhere and thought, "That’s not for me," but you’d be wrong. Yes, #PTFam is a hashtag people use on Twitter, but it represents so much more than that. What does #PTFam mean to me? It's difficult to put into words, but here goes my best shot.
To me, #PTFam is a community of students and professionals who share the same passion for our profession and all that comes with it. Not only can you connect with others at conferences, events, and in the classroom, but you can lean on #PTFam for support and advice as we all go through school and professional experiences together, in-person or online.
If you haven’t been to a professional conference at the state or national level, I highly recommend you doing so. Yes, it costs money, but hear me out. You will be surrounded by hundreds or possibly thousands of SPTs and SPTAs from all over the country. It’s energizing, inspiring, and motivating to say the least. One of the first events I ever attended was in 2015 for APTA's PT Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. There, I met the 2015–2016 Student Assembly Board of Directors (SABOD), which essentially set the stage for me to serve the following year as a student leader. I actually traveled to this event alone, but once I met the SABOD and other students and professionals I had a great time and it became an unforgettable experience. Oh, and did I mention I signed up to room with 5 other SPTs who I didn’t know? Yup, and now we're all good friends. I tell you all of this because at the end of the day I really felt like I was part of a community, something much bigger than myself as a student—I was part of #PTFam.
#PTFam doesn't just exist at conferences or group events either, it's also present in our day-to-day lives as students. Think about the relationships that you have with your classmates. I know for me my classmates and I functioned just like a family. We were a literal #PTFam. We spent many waking hours together in class, in lab, studying, doing homework, quizzing each other, and those were just the school-related activities. We also spent time together outside of school going to happy hours, the gym, or going on trips. Physical therapy school is an experience like none other, and that bond that you form with your classmates will follow you throughout your education and career. Now you know exactly what I mean when I say #PTFam: those relationships, that community, the support—that's #PTFam.
It took me a few in-person experiences to realize that #PTFam, our #PTFam, doesn't go away after we leave a conference, event, or even after graduation. It also doesn't go away when topics or the focus changes on social media. I remember being in tears at NSC 2016 in Miami because many of my SPT and SPTA friends were graduating, my SABOD term was ending, and the conference was coming to a close. All I could think was, would these relationships formed with so many students last beyond these endings? I didn't realize it until everything was over, but the answer is yes! We are all students and professionals embarking on our individual career aspirations and goals in the profession we love, but that doesn't mean that the support system, that sounding board, that community goes away. #PTFam is something that’s lifelong.
I mentioned above the power of #PTFam on social media. Just do a quick hashtag search on Twitter for #PTFam and you'll get what I mean about it being about all of us and always at your fingertips. If you want to connect with the largest family out there, network with new professionals and students, or discuss the latest in research or podcasts, follow hashtags like #PTFam, #DPTStudent, #PTAStudent, or #XChangeSA, just to name a few. Whether you need advice on a clinical rotation in-service presentation, you want to meet students doing their clinicals near you, you're looking for employment opportunities, or you need advice to get through your classes, #PTFam (and the other above hashtags) is the place to ask, engage, and connect. To me, #PTFam is a place to interact with SPTs, SPTAs, and even #FreshPTs in an informal setting on a daily basis.
#PTFam is so much more than conferences and hashtags, though. It’s symbolic of our profession and our community. It’s what becomes of our interactions with fellow students and PTs and PTAs in our communities. It’s engaging in professional discussion with colleagues and mentors on social media. It's with us every step that we take in our journey as students and as professionals. As SPTs and SPTAs, you are part of #PTFam, now it's yours to discover what it means to you.
Want to share what #PTFam means to you? Leave a comment below.
Jillian Tanych, EP-C, SPT, 2016-2017 APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors, Nominating Committee Member
Core Ambassadors of the Month: February
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
My greatest accomplishment thus far is creating videos for our CA update emails each month. As engagement specialists, we need to keep up with digital media in order to reach as many of our peers as we can. I highly encourage other CAs to do the same. We all love transparency, and this helps us connect with our peers at a deeper level.
I also am proud to have started an event this year for Global PTDOS. A few programs in my state helped out with the TOPSoccer program, and the turnout was more than I expected!
I am excited to start reaching out and finding my successor, as I already have interests for next year. I definitely am looking forward to working with another "doer" and getting a fresh perspective on new ideas.
One idea that I will start pursuing during the rest of my term is improving my community leadership and marketing to future generations. It is imperative that the physical therapy image be cleared up and to educate the public, and why not branch out to the next generations? From K-12 schools, health fairs, and community events, teaching young kids what to do and who to go to when they are hurt will provide a huge value.
I choose to be a member because I believe in the value of advocacy. At the root of all change is a strong organization that supports us and advocates in shaping our profession. I choose to be involved because I know it will push me to grow, and that I will get so much more out of my membership. This couldn't be more true with the relationships I've made and all the great information I've learned about APTA and its hard-working members. This experience has fueled my passion for physical therapy even more, and I am excited for the future and how I can be a part of that.
Adam Huynh, SPT
Rutgers University - South
Core Ambassador - New Jersey
My name is Samantha Gunderson, and I am currently a second-year student in the DPT program at the University of Montana (UM). I am the Montana Core Ambassador as well as the Northwest Regional Core Ambassador lead, and am originally from Western Washington, just outside of Seattle. My choice to become a physical therapist stemmed from volunteer experiences with various individuals with special needs who made an impact on my life for the better. I was humbled in working with these individuals, and quickly developed a passion for becoming an advocate for those who are underserved. Through physical therapy, I can help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities live life to their fullest capacity and achieve their goals. I can become a supporter for those who may not otherwise have a voice.
As Core Ambassador for Montana and Northwest Regional Core Ambassador lead, I am lucky to be involved with APTA's Montana’s Chapter (MAPTA) as well as the Physical Therapy Student Association (PTSA) at the University of Montana. One of the most interesting things that I am able to be a part of as a result of being in this position is advocating for telehealth with MAPTA. I understand the complicated process of opening up the state practice act in order to expand the scope of practice. If this is successful we will be able to reach out to patients who live in more rural areas, and expand our ability to treat people who otherwise would not be able to attend clinics because of their geographic location. While working with UM’s PTSA, I cohost "community pint nights" as a fundraiser to promote the role of physical therapy within the community, and raise funds to subsidize third-year students’ trips to CSM.
The CA position has allowed me to become more involved, not only at a school level, but at city, state, and national levels as well. I am excited to see how this position affords me the opportunities to become even more involved in the future. I strongly believe that physical therapy can benefit many people in different ways, and that it is our job as a profession to educate our communities and advocate for ourselves. I am most excited to create more events focused on education and awareness of the benefits of physical therapy, not only within my community, but within the state as a whole.
I am a member of, and involved in, APTA because I think that it is important to stay current with not only evidence-based practice, but the trends that are occurring within other states as well. APTA allows me to see what other therapists are doing to better their patient populations, as well as what other states are doing to progress the profession as a whole. By utilizing the resources that APTA provides, I will be able to become the best physical therapist for my patients. I will be able to advance my career and become a pioneer in the field of pediatrics. Some of my professional goals include obtaining board certifications in pediatrics and orthopedics, so I can combine the most current practice for a generally complicated population. As a member of APTA, I am able to continue my education far beyond my didactic work and look forward to making connections with all of you, so we may advance together.
Samantha Gunderson, SPT, MS
University of Montana
Core Ambassador - Montana
Learn more about the Core Ambassador in your state.
CSM 101: Student Guide to #APTACSM
View a PDF version of the CSM 2017 Student Guide
VCU-Marquette Challenge: Challenge of the Month
Estimated Reading Time: 30 seconds
This month and next you can win prizes by participating in the VCU-Marquette Challenge's "Challenge of the Month." The VCU-Marquette Challenge is a nationwide fundraising effort coordinated by physical therapy students in support of the Foundation for Physical Therapy. The Challenge of the Month not only provides you with fundraising ideas, but as a bonus, every school that sends in a photo from their monthly challenge event is entered for a chance to win a gift card!
February's challenge is to host a competitive event and donate your funds raised here. From starting a penny war to organizing a trivia night or talent show, what better way to take a study break than to spend time with your classmates raising funds for physical therapy research? Send photos from your event to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, March 6, for your chance to win $50 to Whole Foods!