The Other Side of Advocacy
“Why invest so much in your education to become a physical therapist if you can’t completely use those skills when you graduate”? That’s the statement I made to a group of students from North Dakota last week. I didn't realize they have full unrestricted direct access and minimal scope of practice limitations.
Are the advocacy efforts complete in those 30 states with minimal direct access limitations? A lot of additional state and federal political efforts are still needed in a variety of areas but putting that aside for a second let’s focus on the social component of advocacy. What we are not doing is marketing in such a way that most people in the United States think of seeing a physical therapist first when experiencing musculoskeletal pain or injury. We are not meeting the needs of society if only a small portion of people are aware of our value and skill set. A recent blog by Ryan Klepps highlights the notion that physical therapists probably only see about 8% of the musculoskeletal injury market.
Who cares if you have direct access when such a small amount of people seek your services? Why aren't people aware of the physical therapists role? Why do they seek other options for musculoskeletal care or avoid care altogether?
It boils down to professional branding, public awareness efforts, and every single one of us displaying our skill set and value every day, to everyone we know and every patient we see. These APTA commercials are a great place to start.
And when people don't know the vision of the profession you can send them this
*Special thanks to all our colleagues from the Florida Physical Therapy association who keep advocacy interesting and entertaining every year as we work to modernize our practice act to reflect our training and skill set.