Something is always lost in translation when you summarize a summary. But I intend to try. On Saturday I had the honor of attending and presenting in Emory University's "Exploring the Future of Physical Therapy Symposium." We set out to bridge and contextualize two seminal APTA events, the Physical Therapy and Society Summit(PASS) and the Vitalizing Practice Through Research and Research Through Practice(VRTP) Conference. The symposium though not officially sanctioned by APTA was certainly peopled with many of its luminaries. Similarly to PASS, at which I was the youngest PT in attendance, I was surrounded by NIH grantees, journal editors, and progressive thinkers from academia and the clinic.
Emory's event built upon and went beyond past efforts. PASS imagined the future. VRTP established strategic goals. On Saturday, with the help of an APTA lobbyist straight from D.C. and with the Chief Disability and Health Officer from the CDC, we began to compare the current state of affairs with our goals as a profession. To borrow from Capitol Hill, this was a big "frickin" deal... ahem. (Not bad for what was initially a simple Alumni weekend and Foundation Fundraiser.)
Exploring the Future was about initiating change in the PT world. Ivory towers, silos, bloated curricula, exorbitant debt, disconnected scientists, and disinterested clinicians were all on the chopping block. The audience was engaged and asked to reflect on how change can happen and where change is needed. Topics ranged from ACOs to regenerative medicine to innovative co-pay incentivization schema. Comments ranged from "Translational clinicians need to be honored within APTA." to "If you don't donate to the Political Action Committee, at least marry a congress person."
The seemingly obligatory product of Symposiums these days is the White Paper. While such a paper is in fact forthcoming, there was a strong call throughout the event to take action beyond the keyboard. Hopefully bloggers are granted free license in this regard. No blog of any readable length could do this day long event justice. So I want to share a personal perspective that grew out of PASS and was strengthened over the weekend.
Physical therapists must come to lead community initiatives. Our skill set has expanded in many helpful areas but the need for our skill set has exponentially out accelerated that growth. Patient demographics have become population statistics. As clinicians, researchers, and just professionals, our reach needs to extend further now than ever. My personal mission, having attended PASS and presented in Exploring the Future as young leader, is to promote a skill acquisition model for leadership development within APTA. The sooner we identify the societal needs of 2020 and beyond, the better we will be able to "skate to where the puck will be" by preparing our clinicians and leaders to meet those challenges. Where do you think the puck is going?