What's the difference between an emerging physical therapy leader and a well-established one?
Not much—at least when it comes to love for their work and their vision of the profession’s future. (Apologies if you were expecting a punchline.)
For its December issue, PT in Motion magazine posed an identical set of questions about the physical therapy profession to 2 seemingly different groups: this year's cohort of Catherine Worthingham Fellows of APTA (FAPTAs), and the 2019 class of APTA Emerging Leaders nominated by their chapter or section. Answers from the physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) tell the story of a profession that embraces its transformative potential but is clear-eyed about the challenges standing in the way.
Questions posed ranged from the personal ("What was the best piece of career advice you ever received?") to the arguably unlikely ("If you had the undivided attention of Congress for 10 minutes to educate lawmakers about something related to physical therapy, what would you say?"), and points between. The answers, at times, were equally far-ranging.
At other times, however, a seeming consensus emerged. Most respondents, for example, felt that today's younger generation of PTs and PTAs are better at establishing a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, the seasoned professionals and the relative newcomers generally share a perception that the cost of physical therapy education is making it difficult to create a more diverse physical therapy workforce.
And, while not articulated in every response, it becomes clear as the article unfolds that nearly every responding PT and PTA places a strong value in the potential for dedicated professionals to make a difference for both individual patients and the physical therapy profession as a whole.
Interviewee Gammon Earhart, PT, PhD, FAPTA, sees that value as a source of optimism.
"Our biggest strength is our people. I am inspired by the talented, dedicated leaders in all areas of our profession who are passionate advocates for physical therapy," she said. "My optimism for the future comes not only from these current leaders, but equally from up-and-coming students and early-career professionals who bring great energy and new ideas."
"Generation Rap: Veteran and Emerging Leaders Speak Out" is featured in the December issue of PT in Motion magazine and is open to all viewers—pass it along to nonmember colleagues to show them 1 of the benefits of belonging to APTA.