As society becomes increasingly diverse, it's important for the profession to reflect those differences. But as of a 2013 APTA member demographics profile, nearly 70% of APTA member physical therapists (PTs) were female and 88.5% were white. So how will the profession look in the future, and how is APTA responding to the need for a diverse physical therapy workforce?
A feature in this month's PT in Motion magazine examines the importance of diversity within the physical therapy profession to improve the health of an increasingly diverse society. Author Michele Wojciechowski reports how several PTs' diverse backgrounds have helped them offer person-centered care that is sensitive to patients' needs and beliefs.
"Increasing the diversity of the profession and providing information on the importance and understanding of cultural competence have been part of APTA's vision, guiding principles, and mission for many years," said Johnette L. Meadows, PT, MS, program director of minority/women's initiatives in APTA's Department of Practice.
The PTs interviewed reflect on how their personal backgrounds have given them a unique ability to connect with other minority patients. "We live in a diverse world, and our clients and patients come from diverse communities," noted Dave Kietrys, PT, PhD. "We should be mirroring that. We also should be welcoming people from all backgrounds into our profession. The greater our diversity, the deeper and richer our understanding will be of the needs of a varied population. We'll naturally be more sensitive to underrepresented communities—what they're going through and how they might have been marginalized, stigmatized, or treated with bias."
"Who Are Tomorrow's PTs and PTAs?" is featured in the June issue of PT in Motion magazine and is open to all viewers—pass it along to nonmember colleagues to show them one of the benefits of belonging to APTA. Printed editions of the magazine are mailed to all members who have not opted out; digital versions are available online to members.