The Gift of Advocacy

| Michael Schmitz

“I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.”- Maya Angelou.

In this case, the ‘others like me’ for whom I am advocating are physical therapists, student physical therapists, and physical therapist assistants across the nation. This June, I received the incredible and humbling opportunity to represent the constituents of Minnesota during the annual APTA Strategic Legislative Fly In Day. During this process, I was able to learn firsthand from vocal and active members of the APTA; Eva Norman, Craig Johnson, and Heather Englebert. Additionally, student physical therapists in Minnesota were very well represented by Sammi Meyer and Andrew Wallner.

Our team, along with others from across the country gathered in the sparkling new APTA Centennial Center on June 22nd to inform ourselves on APTA legislative priorities and communication strategies on how to best convey the impact these policies will have on the lives of our patients. A few of the key issues we brought to our legislators include stopping further cuts to the Medicare Fee Schedule, promoting timely access to care for seniors by reducing prior authorization burdens, and mitigating the reimbursement cuts when care is provided by a physical therapist assistant.

On a personal level, I was thoroughly impressed and inspired by the passion I witnessed from the physical therapists that traveled thousands of miles to raise their voices as constituents. These legislation changes would help millions of people received improved care, and ultimately lead to better function and quality of life.

My biggest takeaway from this experience is this; anyone can be an advocate for physical therapy, and it can take many forms! Every voice matters, and it should be part of our responsibilities as physical therapists to advocate for our profession and our patients. I was presented with a unique opportunity to speak up for something that matters to me, and the best thing I did was simply say, yes. To whomever is reading this, my challenge is for you to get involved and just say yes. Whether it is signing up to be an APTA MN Key Contact, contacting your legislators regarding APTA legislative priorities, or even joining the 2023 Day on the Hill, take that leap! Your profession and your patients will be better because you chose to act.

Michael Schmitz, SPT
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