"Physical therapy is not a subspecialty of the medical profession and physical therapists are not medical doctors; we are a separate profession that provides a unique service that physicians are unable and untrained to provide."

Letter to the AMA from the APTA, Dec 2009

Monday, January 23, 2012

Florida Temporary Licensure - From a Ripple to a Wave

I got my first real taste of the less glorious side of politics when I spent 2009 and 2010 passing out flyers, attending fundraisers, and throwing candy for Chad Hays, my step father, now State Representative for the 104th district in Illinois.

Fast forward to January 16th, 2012—myself, some close peers, and colleagues in Physical Therapy are attending the Advocacy Forum put on by the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA) in Tallahassee, Florida.

The 2012 FPTA Advocacy Forum was a success.

The forum allowed students and clinicians to learn more about the political process, how to advocate for our profession culminating with attendees having the opportunity to observe our own bill navigate a key House committee.

After our bill was introduced to the sub-committee by Representative Goodson, I joined other physical therapists in giving testimonials.

The bill passed unanimously in the Health and Human Services Quality sub-committee. The advancement of our bill that day has created a ripple effect. The result forwards the ultimate goal of allowing new graduates to practice while waiting to sit for board exams, but also splashes into important directions relating to the association’s future.

Equally important is the impact on the dozen physical therapy students in attendance at the capital in concert with the excitement from those students still in class on the home front who were kept notified through social media. Representing the future of the profession, we have truly seen democracy at work . . . .SO EXCITING.

Temporary licensure was re-exposed by a student this September to the FPTA in Orlando at a district caucus during the association’s annual conference. At the general assembly gathering the next day, University of St. Augustine students were recognized for raising $1000 for PT-PAC. Soon thereafter we each witnessed the organization quickly vote in support to pursue the legislature. Furthermore, not only did students witness their dollars at work, the receptiveness by the practicing clinicians to the idea served as justification and encouragement to students who do not think their voice could be heard. It further served as validation to those individuals who moan and grumble on the fees for FPTA/APTA membership they pay.

Here we are today, spearheaded by young professionals who juggle the rigors of doctoral education and sacrifice valuable study time (more importantly free time) to advocate for their trade. I felt as proud as when I had received my acceptance letter to PT school as the number of students at the advocacy forum exceeded the amount of practicing clinicians.

Thank you for making a difference.

The undulation of the Temporary Licensure stone thrown into the pool of politics is further seen in the development of the organization’s relationship with Tallahassee. We have made headway not only with our sponsors in the House (Rep. Tom Goodson) and in the Senate (Senator Bill Montford), but also with Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Ronald Renuart, the vice chair of the Health and Human Services Quality Subcommittee. Eric Chaconas, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT and I were introduced to “Doc” Renuart in Jacksonville last fall.

The receptiveness from Representative Renuart that day left me feeling that the FPTA would have a tough road ahead of them.  However; Rep. Renuart was in full support of our bill on Tuesday arguing that Florida produces great physical therapists and we need to keep them here!

Anything is possible. We need to keep the swell that we have created this January 2012 session from turning into a tsunami headed in our own direction.

The day was a success. I am not looking at the glass optimistically as if it were half full. I am certainly not looking at the glass pessimistically as if it were half empty. I am however looking at the glass opportunistically; to drink it. Simply put, as a member of the FPTA, we need to evaluate and reflect our triumphs and mishaps. The organization, location, and presentations given during the advocacy training were terrific. Awesome hotel, food, excellent support information, and presentations that were interesting, helpful, and informative.

However, our sponsor in the House thought we were massage therapists. At one point, I had to explain to him that physical therapists were to bones and muscles as dentists were to gums and teeth so he would stop raving about the massages he has had before. He was good for a non-controversial issue, but what about direct access or dry needling? He clearly did not know the field.

There were many questions that could have been anticipated (dates, how it was before, why tests dates) but had to be answered by several different individuals because one could not fully articulate the nuances of our field. In fairness, legislators are bombarded with issues from hundreds of fields; the education of our elected officials is our job. The advancement of our bill that day has created a ripple effect that shouldn’t be left unrecognized.

I read a blog by Mike Reinold, a physical therapist that I hope to meet someday, and Head Athletic Trainer/Assistant Director of Medical Services for the Boston Red Sox. The article highlighted the common adage used in physical therapy called the “kinetic chain.” Dr. Reinold’s focal point was that far too often the body is more analogous to a ripple in the water with some parts not following the notion “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. He noted that the body follows a “kinetic ripple.”

My extreme love for Anatomy and Biomechanics was put on the back burner, for I found the ripple synonymous with our progress in the state capital on January 17th. I was intrigued in that the correlation heads in all directions. Perhaps we can all look further into Temporary licensure in that not only does the legislation create jobs for new graduates, but also lays the foundation for the future of young practitioners, their involvement, and the success for the organization at the Capital. FPTA staff, students and clinicians…stay diligent, because you never know what’s over the next wave.

Leighton Peavler, SPT, FPTA, GAC
Student Representative, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
For comments and questions, please do not hesitate to contact Leighton at LeightonPeavler@gmail.com

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Tim Richardson, PT owns a private practice at Medical Arts Rehabilitation, Inc in Palmetto, Florida. The clinic website is at MedicalArtsRehab.com.

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