President Dunn: Students of Today Must Prepare for Tomorrow
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
Transitioning from one year to the next always feels like the start of something exciting and new, and that's especially true as we enter 2018.
APTA's centennial is approaching on the horizon in 2021, which means that a first-year DPT student in 2018 will be starting their career as our association turns 100 years old!
The centennial will provide us with an opportunity to celebrate our past and charge enthusiastically toward our bright future—and it's the DPT and PTA students of today who will define just what that future becomes for our profession and for those we serve.
I get a glimpse of that bright future all the time. In addition to serving as APTA's president, I'm an educator for Louisiana State University, which means I have a responsibility to help students like you prepare for tomorrow.
But today I address you simply as a physical therapist and an APTA member for more than 30 years to give you a piece of advice: you have a responsibility to prepare for your future, too, and that can't wait until after you graduate.
Today you're focused on passing exams or getting through your clinical rotations, and you should be. Those are important steps in your development.
But as you're going through school, health care delivery is changing rapidly, and it's creating new opportunities for the profession of physical therapy.
In recent weeks, I've been listening to APTA's "Finding My Way" podcast series, which features brief interviews with PTs talking about how they navigated the twists and turns of their early careers. By listening to what those PTs are doing now, you get a sense of the vast opportunity within our profession and how they each maximized that potential, but you also get a sense of how unpredictable the future can be.
Scratch that: you get a sense of how unpredictable the future will be.
So how do you prepare for the unpredictable? You get help. And that's where APTA comes in.
There's a reason so many APTA members rave about their physical therapy family (#PTfam) on social media: the greatest value of the association is the community it provides—an environment in which there's almost always someone who has been where you are before and can help you take that next step.
The best thing that you can do for your future today is to engage with that community. Here are just a few ways that you can do that in the year ahead:
- Attend an APTA national conference: CSM in February, NEXT in June, or NSC—the only national conference specifically for students—in October.
- Reach out to the Student Assembly Board of Directors, or to your state chapter or a section of interest and ask about ways you can get involved.
- Follow the Student Assembly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and APTA on social media and stay informed about what's going on. (Yes, some of the information will feel over your head at times. That's okay.)
- And check out that Finding My Way podcast series, because you'll hear how crucial the APTA community is for finding mentors.
No matter where you are in physical therapy school, your time there is limited. Your future is limitless, and the time to prepare is now. We, at APTA, want to be your community, your professional home, wherever your journey takes you.
Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, APTA President. Connect with President Dunn on Twitter.