Essentials for Advancing You and Your Profession
2 minute read
What do you think of when you hear the term advocacy?
Do you roll your eyes? Or maybe let out a deep sigh when your professor brings it up?
While some people certainly perk up at the concept, there are many of us who associate the term advocacy with some abstract thing we don't need to worry about. It's just another thing that we're supposed to be doing, on top of the 10,000 practicals that we need to be studying for.
I think that when many of us see the word advocacy in the classroom and on social media, we don't truly understand why we should care. I'm here to tell you that you should care for the sake of our amazing profession, today and into the future, and we need to advocate to the public and legislators alike.
You chose this profession for a reason. The benefits physical therapy has on society are not new to you, but think about the general public. While some consumers know the value of seeing a physical therapist for their health care needs, many do not.
I'll stop here and climb aboard a soapbox for a moment.
We go through rigorous education and still at times get confused with personal trainers or massage therapists, or just the people you see after an injury.
Physical therapists and physical therapist assistants serve a crucial role in health care, in settings ranging from acute care in hospitals to general outpatient clinics. After all of the hard work we put in, we need to step up and speak out to the public on who physical therapists are and why they should use our services. That's where advocacy comes in.
Another constituency that we need to educate are our legislators. Our elected officials play a crucial role in health care and patient access to physical therapists. Yes, you read that correctly.
Things happen like they do in the world of health care partly because of laws that are established by legislators. Since they are the ones who draft and vote on laws that impact our profession, we need to ensure they are making informed decisions about the future of our profession and scope of practice.
Now that you have had a glimpse at the "why," the next step is understanding how to communicate these ideas to the general public, legislators, and even other members of the health care team.
At our session at APTA's 2019 National Student Conclave, we'll talk about how to hone and use your communications skills and passion for our profession, why active listening is a must-have skill, and we'll give you a few tips for how you can confidently promote our profession in your community.
Join us October 31 - November 2, 2019 at APTA's National Student Conclave — the only conference for students, by students. For the best rates register by September 25, 2019.
James Nowak, SPT, is a student at Utica College and the NYPTA SSIG vice president. You can connect with him on Twitter at @JamesNowak58.