How did you first become interested in the healthcare field?
In 1987, while in college, I hurt myself skiing. I had sustained a partial left rotator cuff tear. And the only person that could understand my problem was a sports Physical Therapist who happened to be faculty at the University of Oklahoma Physical Therapy but was practicing in the campus health clinic that day. He knew the special tests necessary to create a physical therapy working diagnosis and care plan. The specialty was not even offered yet. Prior to this appointment, I had an x-ray which was completely unnecessary and unhelpful. Yet, I could still not lift my arm until the correct physical therapy treatment plan, implemented with modalities, exercise and range of motion. I was so impressed that physical therapists could know so much more about the musculoskeletal system than general practicing doctors and had another way to health, managing injuries, physical rehabilitation and quality of life.
What is your current position in your work
I have all but given up on the healthcare conglomerate. Hospitals and even outpatient organizations cannot really contain the creativity of Physical Therapists and what they can offer to our patients and society. However, I see that continued support for the hospital, inpatient and skilled rehabilitation team is crucial to our health care and the continuum of that care. Rehabilitative care for our patients following intensive and acute care is a predictor of improved patient outcomes and return to independence or appropriate care. I currently work for a contract agency that will embrace my strengths so that I can work for community programs for neuro-rehab as well as private outpatient practice. I have also worked consistently with my therapist friend for more than 30 years in Prairie Village for her outpatient orthopedic therapy needs, as well as vestibular and balance integrative needs.
What drew you to the Kansas Chapter of the APTA?
I have been a member of APTA for more than 30 years. Due to the federated model of APTA, the Kansas Chapter of the APTA is more specifically oriented to Kansas Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants. I have been also a member or licensed of the chapters of Virginia, Indiana, New York, Missouri and Colorado. However, the bulk of my years are in Kansas.
If you are a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, then you also need to be a member of one or more of the state chapters. There are so many resources for the therapist housed at the APTA and APTA Kansas websites for consumers under the Choose PT website as well as the members of the organization in discounts and news regarding legislative challenges and state specific advocacy efforts. For me it is the professionalism, collaboration and the specific community of licensed Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistant outreach for improved practice pattern and advocacy for reimbursement has been top of priority lately. The vision of the APTA is “transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” The vision of APTA Kansas is “advancing Physical Therapy to transform lives by optimizing movement and health.”
What does this organization provide its members?
Because the Kansas Chapter is a smaller chapter of a larger organization, all who are members are also members of the American Physical Therapy Association which is at the forefront of advocating on our behalf payment and policies that keep us as an important part of the healthcare picture in Washington, DC. Locally, we can custom fit those items that are specifically crucial to our members here in Kansas. During the initial concerns over the COVID-19 crisis, Affinity Strategies was able to pull experts in the field of epidemiology as well as healthcare policy and telehealth to help us organize webinars to disseminate information to our members quickly. Other top legislative battles we face even in the face of a pivoting health provision in Telehealth is payment parody for physical therapists when it has been deemed that Telehealth is the most appropriate modality of service (whether a pandemic, weather, lack of transportation, or other situations make in person visits difficult). We recently got our physical therapy compact language bill signed by the governor after legislation was passed last year. We offer member discounts to all our conferences and webinars.
Why are you so passionate about the Kansas Chapter of the APTA?
I like to say that APTA creates tomorrow’s practice. The Kansas Chapter creates this for Kansas’ professionals. You buy insurance for everything else; this is just insurance for your career. We fight the forward battles behind policy, reimbursement and practice of our profession. Remember, being a member is like buying insurance for your career. There are no guarantees that you will have a career tomorrow.
What are some of the accomplishments APTA has made in your time with them?
I have been on the APTA Kansas board for over a decade. Initially, I served as the Standards and Practice Chair, Vice President and now President and many of those years also served as a Delegate for the APTA National House of Delegates. The Kansas Chapter of the APTA has had so many victories over the decade. After decades of working toward legislation for direct access to physical therapists’ services, our patient self-referral bill was signed into law in 2013. We then launched a GO Direct, STOP opioid abuse, and #ChoosePT campaign to alert the public about how physical therapy helps with pain and pain management in 2017. We were able to change our practice act during legislation to have the modality “Dry Needling” explicitly protected in our state practice act. During the Covid-19 shut-down and through the pandemic, we responded with regular webinars to address the public health crises, updates on physical therapy and protective equipment as well as inservicing on the usefulness of using Telehealth to reach out to our patients. In 2021, Governor Kelly signed into law our Compact Privilege legislation which would allow physical therapists and physical therapist assistance to practice in all states that have entered into the Compact Privilege agreement with the FSBPT (Federal and State Boards of Physical Therapy). Having the compact in Kansas provides for better access for our patients to get to us, even if that practice crosses a state line. Currently, our legislative agenda is studying the best approach to have the conversation of allowing physical therapist’s prescriptive authority for imaging studies, payment parody under Telehealth practice and getting the PT Compact fully implemented.
What is your favorite quote or motto by which you live?
The only constant is change. Life is more fulfilled when you are fluid and open to every opportunity and every person (even if you don’t agree with them).
What advice would you like to share with anyone new in the healthcare field?
Again, the only constant is change. Learn from your mentors, they have likely dredged that river before, but it will give you power to dredge again and differently.
Do you have any final thoughts our readers should know?
If you have preconceived ideas about Physical Therapy but have never been a patient or have had a loved one receiving physical therapy, you may be surprised by the expertise and intensive education that goes into getting a physical therapy degree. We are entirely a clinical doctoring profession. Our only real extender for physical therapy rehabilitation is the physical therapist assistant. There are many therapists that work toward specialty certification through the APTA Board of Physical Therapy Specialties and take years of study and residency. There are currently 10 specialties from Neurologic, Orthopedics, Geriatrics, Sports, and Woman’s Health to name a few. Most states have some form of direct access, so see if physical therapy can help you!