This past week I had the opportunity to attend Washington, DC to visit the APTA Headquarters and visit with congressional members to advocate for the physical therapy profession and our patients. My advocacy journey began this past spring when Eva Norman and Kathleen Picard presented to our DPT class about advocacy. I then attended the National Student Advocacy Dinner where I heard stories about how PTs, PTAs, and patients are currently struggling. It was there that I repeatedly heard their reasons for getting involved with advocacy – to fight for the change they hope to see.
As I went home that night, I thought back to my first clinical experience, in rural Minnesota. I thought about how busy they were, how they needed increased access to physical therapy, how far some of my patients drove to their appointments, and the issues with insurance. I thought about my second clinical, in a subacute facility for individuals adapting to life following CVA, SCI, or TBI. I thought about the difficult conversations regarding insurance reimbursement, the nursing shortages, and the difficulties with funding personal care upon discharge. I knew that I would need to get involved with advocacy if I wanted to share the current struggles of the physical therapy profession.
Attending, and leading, congressional meetings was an invaluable experience. Leading up to the meetings, I was unsure if I was truly the right person for this task. There certainly were some nerves as we arrived at Capitol Hill that day, but my confidence continued to grow throughout the day. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be able to share my stories and experiences with various congressional members and to be able to educate them on the physical therapy profession. I was able to share stories about my patients in rural MN and how they are being affected by the PTA differential and prior authorization requirements – things you might not think about until you or a loved one are suddenly affected by it. I shared the importance of ensuring access to physical therapy in rural areas, especially now more than ever, following the COVID-19 Pandemic. As I left Capitol Hill, I felt accomplished. However, advocacy does not end there. I am excited to continue my advocacy efforts within my congressional district, build relationships with my congressional leaders, and encourage my classmates to share their stories and get involved with advocacy. I am very grateful for the APTA for all of their efforts and support in ensuring we address the current challenges PTs, PTAs, and patients experience. I look forward to addressing the challenges my patients faced during my clinical experiences and pushing for the change I hope to see one day.
Sammi Meyer is a current physical therapy student at St. Catherine University and will graduate with her DPT in May 2023. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science from St. Catherine University. Sammi has passion for working with individuals in inpatient and subacute settings and ensuring community accessibility & participation for all individuals.