Learning Leadership Through Advocacy

| Chris Chisler, SPT

Student life revolves around the classroom and clinicals; other professional development aspects are often set aside while in school. Taking part in advocacy events for physical therapy is one way to develop professional skills in communication and collaboration. I recently attended Capitol Hill Day in Washington D.C. and took on the challenge of meeting and speaking with legislators as part of APTA’s advocacy efforts at the national level. Educating senators and representatives about the physical therapy profession is an important responsibility we can all share.

When I arrived on Capitol Hill, I did not feel like an expert on physical therapy issues, but other professionals from across the country were there to mentor and guide me. During each visit to a legislator’s office, I took part more and more in the conversation. I learned the importance of building relationships with lawmakers and the role I can play in providing education about our role as physical therapists in the lives of patients. I found that advocacy is a collaboration between lawmakers and the profession, each gaining from the work done by both. I was also struck by the sense of community that exists between those who come back year after year to promote the profession of physical therapy. I hope to continue to take part in national advocacy as I graduate this coming December and begin my professional career as a physical therapist.

I challenge other students to take part in professional development opportunities like Capitol Hill Day. The rewards of volunteering are a greater sense of community within the profession, an opportunity to make a larger impact on society, and an opportunity to develop leadership skills in communication and collaboration. Taking part in Capitol Hill Day taught me the future of the profession rests on our ability to collaborate with others for the good of society.

My name is Chris Chisler, and I am a PT student from the University of St. Augustin for Health Sciences as part of their flex program at the St. Augustin campus. I am currently preparing to begin my last clinical rotation in an outpatient orthopedic clinic with a planned graduation date this December. I am a past secretary of the FPTA Student Special Interest Group and a current APTA Student Council Rep for the Home Health Academy. I participated in the APTA Geriatrics Student Task Force creating engagement opportunities for students. Prior to PT school, I worked as a PTA in both the skilled nursing facility setting and the home health setting. I am a graduate of Seminole State College’s PTA program, a former PTA Director for the FPTA Student Special Interest Group, and a Former PTA Rep for the FPTA Early Professionals Special Interest Group.

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