The Federal Advocacy Forum was a life changing three days in Washington D.C., filled with learning, sharing stories and advocating for the field of physical therapy as well as our patients. I had the opportunity to participate in five congressional meetings and I was able to help lead the meeting with my own congressional district. I came away from this Forum with several important new insights that I hope to share with my peers and to remember in my future practice.
First, I developed a greater appreciation for all that the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) does for physical therapists (PTs). Not only do membership dues provide PTs access to journals and research, but it also enables APTA staff to lobby Congress year-round for issues that affect PTs and our patients. APTA is in the forefront making sure PT professionals are up to date on what is happening in D.C. and that our voices are heard.
The Federal Advocacy Forum has helped me become more aware of how legislation affects physical therapists and our patients. I learned about several laws and bills that affect the way PTs practice and that affect patients’ access to treatment. The more I know about barriers to patient care, the more I can help my patients overcome these barriers in the future. If we, as providers, are not advocating for our patients to help them get better access or better care for a better price, then we are not fully caring for them. Learning about these laws and hearing stories about how they affect patients will help me to better empathize with and care for my patients in the future.
For me, the most impactful part of the Federal Advocacy Forum in Washington D.C. was the realization that we the people have the power and responsibility to make change in our country. Sharon Dunn, President of APTA, said in her address to the 200+ physical therapist in attendance that “We are not ruled by the majority, we are ruled by the majority who participate.” It is our duty as physical therapists to use our voices to participate in the legislative process to improve access and care for our patients. Even one person can make a difference, but the first step is to get involved and participate.
Finally, there are so many ways to get involved. From writing letters and making calls to Congresspersons, to donating to PT-PAC (APTA’s grassroots organization), to attending state and federal legislative days and developing relationships with Congresspersons. There is something every individual can do to participate in advocating for physical therapy and patients. Physical therapy students can attend a National Advocacy Dinner and learn more about how to get involved, participate in the Student Advocacy Challenge, join the PTeam, and take part in Flash Action Strategies. Small actions can make a big difference, and attending the Federal Advocacy Forum has inspired me to make a difference in my own way.
At Live Your Life we offer physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, personal training, acupuncture, massage therapy, health coaching and dietary services.
Live Your Life Advocating!
Briana Felton, SPT
Live Your LifeTM
Bringing Physical Therapy and Wellness to You!
Briana Felton graduated magna cum laude from Augsburg College with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology. She is currently working towards her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at St. Catherine University, where she was recently one of the MN Physical Therapy Associations’ Federal Advocacy Student Scholarship winners. She is passionate about helping others achieve their maximum mobility, function, and quality of life. Personally, Briana enjoys being active outdoors, including hiking, paddle boarding, running, and playing sports.