Learn • Educate • Advocate Physical Therapy & Our Patients Are Counting on Us!

| Dr. Eva Norman

As physical therapists (PTs), physical therapist assistants (PTAs) and student PTs/PTAs we love to help. We care deeply for our profession, and want to ensure a bright future for physical therapy and for our patients. One of the best ways to achieve this is through advocacy. According to Merriam-Webster, advocacy is defined as “the act or process of supporting a cause;” an advocate means a person that “supports or argues for a cause, policy, etc.” As advocates, we ensure patients voices are heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill. Ask yourself, how important is physical therapy to me? What is stopping me from becoming an advocate?

Why Do We Advocate as a Profession?
First, we advocate with APTA to protect and promote the profession. The primary role of this work is to make sure that physical therapy is well positioned within laws and regulations that govern our work. We make sure we are constantly raising awareness about the role of physical therapy and the value physical therapy brings to healthcare.

Secondly, we advocate to ensure access for patients and consumers.  The promulgation of regulations and the introduction of legislation occurs frequently, often creating some unintended consequences that impact access to patients and consumers.  The role of APTA staff and its members is to ensure that access is always open for patients and consumers.

Lastly, if we do not advocate for our own profession others will define what physical therapy is and what we do.

How Can You Make A Difference?
Join the PTeam
Sign up in less than a minute through the APTA Action App or apta.org/pteam. Join nearly 15,000 members and receive timely updates on our advocacy efforts and legislative action alerts that allow you to make a difference by contacting your member of Congress about an important issue to physical therapy through the Legislative Action Center just through a few clicks. Our voices can be louder by having you join our efforts.

Build Relationships
It is important to get to know your member of Congress. This may appear intimidating, but members of Congress are people too.  We have members of Congress that are professors, attorneys, and so forth.  In fact, my MN Senator was even on Saturday Night Live.  These are real people who come from all walks of life, who are public servants seeking to improve public policy.   Advocacy is not just sending a letter but actually building relationships, so when important issues come up we have somebody that will listen and take action on our behalf.

Here are three ways to do this with the help of your Chapter’s Federal Affairs Liaison (appointed by the Chapter President to oversee the state’s federal grassroots efforts):

  • Organize a college visit. Your campus can host a member of Congress who represents the Congressional district where the college presides. The member of Congress can discuss issues of importance to your University and get to know you. Trust me, they will be grateful for exposure to potential voters.
  • Schedule a district office meeting when your member of Congress is home for recess. Meet with them in the district simply by making a phone call to their office and asking for an appointment. Being a constituent makes you an important person.
  • Attend a town hall meeting. Often members of Congress will hold a town hall meeting where they will discuss important issues that they see as important to their Congressional district. It is a great opportunity for students to attend and raise issues that they also believe are important.

Physical Therapy Political Action Campaign (PT-PAC) is the fundraising arm of the APTA. We use this money to support candidates of office, who support issues that are important to physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students. This past election, 96% of the candidates that PT-PAC supported won on Election Day and we provided $1.2 million in campaign donations to PT-friendly candidates in Congress. As a student you can assist our efforts by donating $20 and becoming a student star. With these dollars you will help APTA members and staff voice support or opposition to legislation in Congress, and also potentially have an opportunity to attend a fundraiser. Student stars are recognized at conferences and receive a lapel pin.

APTA Action App
Download this extremely valuable tool to use to advocate across the country. This app serves as a one-stop shop, with features including: a link to the legislative action center, a link to PT-PAC to make a donation, feedback forms to be used post-advocacy events, a Congressional directory, PTeam Signup and other helpful information. It’s a great way to LEARN about PT issues to help EDUCATE members of Congress.

Social Media
Social media outlets are another great way to stay informed on political happenings in Congress and learn more about what your members of Congress are focusing on when it comes to legislative priorities (as most members have a Twitter and Facebook, some have Instagram and YouTube channels). These outlets can be great for highlighting the advocacy efforts you are undertaking with your peers, physical therapists, advocacy organizations and for your representatives and senators. Send a tweet to your members of Congress to show them the issues that you are passionate about along with the initiatives you need their support with in order to advance the profession of physical therapy. Calling out members of Congress for their support of APTA sponsored legislation is also greatly appreciated by offices and more and more attention is giving to digital media platforms and posts by constituents. Many offices have staff who focus the majority of their time reviewing the social media outlets to determine issues of particular importance to constituents. Post it, like it, retweet it and share it! Use the hashtag #PTAdvocacy.

Federal Advocacy Forum
Join members from across the country on Capitol Hill to advocate for the profession and for patients regarding important issues to physical therapy. This is a wonderful opportunity to EDUCATE legislators. They want to hear from constituents. You are an expert who knows far more about physical therapy than they do. This year the forum will be March 26-28 at the Washington Court in Washington, D.C. Join therapists and students from all over the country to make a difference. Don’t forget to take pictures, appreciate new co-sponsorships and share your experiences using the hashtag #APTAFAF.

We have seen, through the years, the profound impact advocacy can have on the profession of physical therapy. APTA has always been able to count on an extremely “deep bench” of seasoned advocates who have continued to move the needle in the halls of Congress, but now we turn to you. Students are the future of APTA and we need you to continue to carry the torch and impress upon legislators the transformative power of physical therapy and impact it has on the lives of millions of Americans. Learn Educate Advocate, Our Patients & Physical Therapy are Counting on Us!

At Live Your Life we offer physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, personal training, acupuncture, massage therapy, health coaching and dietary services.

Health and Happiness,

Dr. Eva Norman
President & Founder
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Live Your LifeTM
Bringing Physical Therapy & Wellness to You!





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