Saturday, November 13, 2010

Getting Started

The most important first step in getting started with physical therapy advocacy is identifying the individuals that represent you. You can find your Senator or Representative by district under "Colorado Legislative Links" or, if you are an APTA member, login to the Legislative Action Center. The Legislative Action Center shows your representatives based on the address associated with your membership. If you have a work, school or old address associated with your membership, these representatives may not be correct, so be sure to double check these are the individuals representing the district in which you currently live and vote.

Through the APTA website Advocacy & Governmental Affairs center you can receive updates regarding important issues facing our profession nationally and at your state level.

The easiest way to get involved as a student is to write your Senators and Representatives. Kyle Ridgeway PT, DPT, outlined detailed instructions on contacting your representative as part of a grassroots letter writing campaign with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Therapists Student Special Interest Group in 2009. Below is an excerpt from Kyle's post, the full post can be found here.


If you are an APTA member you can send electronic correspondence by clicking on “Support Physical Therapy Provisions in Health Care Reform Legislation in Congress” in the APTA’s Legislative Action Center.

1. Click Here to sign into the Legislative Action Center directly:

2. Once signed in click the “Federal Issues” button on the top(A form letter will appear)

3. Under "Current Issues" Support Physical Therapy Provisions in Health Care Reform Legislation in Congress will be listed. Click "Take Action" (a form letter will appear)

3. Select whether you would like to send an e-mail or a letter
* E-mail: will be sent once you click submit
* Letter: Addressed letter will be ready to print after clicking submit

4. Please read over the letter. Add some personal information and insights to make the letter unique

* Whether you are a student or practicing therapist
* What you are interested in
* What patient populations you serve
* NOTE: You can also select a blank letter and enter information on your own
* Make sure to identify yourself as a constituent

5. SUBMIT! It is that easy!!
1. If you selected e-mail, it will be sent
2. If you selected letter, an addressed letter ready to print will appear


Finding Your Representatives

1. Click Here to find your representatives

2. Enter the zip code of where you are registered to VOTE.


1. For each representative that appears click on their picture. This will take you to their profile.

2. Once in the representative’s profile click on the “contact” tab above their picture.

3. Please use the Washington DC Office address for all your representatives.

NOTE: Electronic Correspondence: If you would also like to send an electronic correspondence, click on the link for the representative’s WEBSITE and contact them from their website.

See the talking points and sample letter below… Add some personal insights to make your letter unique and send it onward!!

Coordinate your efforts with other students as important issues arise to remind your legislators to represent you and your profession when they vote.

Practice Act intro

The 2010 sunset review of physical therapist regulation from DORA is currently available. This document can also be found in under "Physical Therapy links"

This draft will be submitted to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee (HHS). There will be a public hearing where the HHS will recommend continued licensor or termination. Licensor can be recommended to continue for up to 15 years.

In January our practice act will be submitted to the senate. There will be a public hearing before the HHS where the CO chapter of the APTA, DORA and others will be present (likely chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc.): this is the 1st reading. After this the bill can be amended or killed. The bill then goes to 2nd reading, at which time there is a debate with the full senate. At the 3rd reading there is typically not a debate, and our practice act will be voted on. This process is then repeated in the House of Representatives. After the bill has gone through both houses, the Governor (John Hickenlooper) can sign or veto the bill, or permit it to become law without signing it.

Summary of Meeting with Renee Peters

On October 21st, Renee Peters took the time to meet with a couple of us from the UCD PT program to share her experiences and offer advice as we prepare for the upcoming Sunsetting of our practice act.

Renee had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC last spring and participate in the APTA Federal Advocacy Forum & Capital Hill Day. She recommends Ellen Caruso and Betsy Murray as our best resources to stay updated on current issues and to advise us on the best ways to take action. When meeting with legislators, Renee's advice is to be clear and succinct, and personalize the message: be memorable. Nearly everyone has an experience with PT - either personally or through family. Use legislators experiences to demonstrate why the bill you are asking them to support is important. Perhaps the most important consideration when meeting with legislators is to make it clear that what you are fighting for will serve the public: legislators aren't concerned with turf wars—make a clear link to public protection.

In preparation for future events, we discussed brainstorming clear and concise answers to common questions such as “what is a PT” and “why is it a DPT?” that engulf the full scope of PT practice, from pediatrics to geriatrics, in a few short sentences. In the near future, we plan to contact the Regis PT program to combine our efforts as a community of student PT advocates.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Community Advisors

Below are several members of our physical therapy community (in alphabetical order) who are active in governmental affairs and advocacy efforts. These individuals have offered their wisdom and guidance to support student physical therapy advocates, and may be contacted by the methods provided.

Jennifer (Jen) Hide PT, DPT, ATC, CMT

Jen graduated from the University of Colorado Denver Doctor of Physical Therapy porgram in 2007. In 2000 she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Human Performance and Sport with minors in Computer Management Systems and Nutrition from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a focus in Athletic Training and graduated from the Cottonwood Scool of Massage Therapy. She is a licensed Physical Therapist, a Certified Athletic Trainer and a Certified Massage Therapist. As a student Jen was secretary of the Student Special Interest Group from 2005-2006 and President from 2006-2007. From 2005-2007 she also acted as the Students Liason for her DPT class.

Jen is currently a member of the Society for Neuroscience and is very active in the Colorado American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). In the CO APTA she currently holds the position of Delegate-at-Large, Co-Chairs the Mentoring Committee and Governmental Affairs Committee, holds membership in the Sunset Task Force and the Research Committee and is the Historian for the Section of Neurology. From 2008-2010 she held the position of Director-at-Large for the CO APTA.

Advice for new advocates

  • Get involved in any way you possibly can. Volunteers are always needed at the state level.
  • Networking is key! Always introduce yourself to PTs and PTAs that you are around. Don't be shy. PTs are a great group.
  • Keep in contact with your classmates and faculty. They are great resources to utilize in the future.
  • Find a mentor through the new Mentoring Committee to help further your knowledge base and continue to grow.

Contact Information

Mary Jane Rapport, PT, DPT, PhD

Mary Jane Rapport, PT, DPT, PhD is a Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Pediatrics, at the University of Colorado where she is the Assistant Director of the Physical Therapy Program. Dr. Rapport has extensive experience in clinical practice and as academic faculty, a productive record of publications, and has been involved with many grant funded projects. She has been actively involved in physical therapy and in promoting pediatric physical therapy through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), serving on numerous committees and task forces as well as in a variety of leadership roles in the Section on Pediatrics.

Advice for new advocates
Don’t give up. Learning and action both take time. Stick with your passions and beliefs, and keep plugging away. The more you know, the more you will want to know. That’s a good thing, because the more you know, the more you will believe and feel the need to act.

Contact Information

Kyle Ridgeway PT, DPT

Dr. Kyle Ridgeway PT, DPT graduated from University of Colorado Denver in 2010 with his Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. He graduated from Pomona College (Claremont, CA) in 2007 with a bachelor of arts in neuroscience. At Pomona College, Kyle was a varsity football player.

While in school Kyle was involved in a variety of activities, including serving as the co-coordinator of the UC Denver Marquette Challenge Team. The Marquette Challenge is grassroots fundraising competition between physical therapy students that raises money for the Foundation for Physical Therapy. The UC Denver Team placed 3rd and 2nd respectively out of over 60 participating schools raising over $25,000 total for the Foundation.

Kyle was also the national social chair for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapist’s (AAOMPT) Student Special Interest Group (sSIG). His blog posts examining research, advocacy, language, and physical therapy related issues received local and national attention from students, physical therapists, and faculty.

Further, he served on the Capitol Hill Day committee for AAOMPT, recruited students to attend Capitol Hill Day 2009 in Washington, DC, and organized a grass roots letter writing campaign through the sSIG blog. He has met with members of congress at the state and national level in both Washington, DC and Washington State. In October 2009 as a part of the AAOMPT National Conference in Washington, DC he spoke with members of Congress regarding physical therapy. In early 2010, he participated in a Legislative Action Day in Washington State, advocating alongside 700 PT’s and PT supporters for the passage of legislation allowing PT’s to provide thrust manipulation of the spine. He spoke with members of the state legislator regarding thrust manipulation and physical therapy.

In 2010 Kyle had the honor of receiving the Pauline Cerassoli Academic and Clinical Excellence Award from the Colorado Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association as Physical Therapy Student of the Year. During graduation he received the Outstanding Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Award from the University of Colorado Denver Physical Therapy Program.

Dr. Kyle Ridgeway has a broad array of professional and personal interests. He currently practices in 3 settings/locations: Acute Inpatient (University of Colorado Hospital), Private Outpatient Orthopaedics and Sports (Panther Physical Therapy), and Long Term Acute Care (Colorado Long Term Acute Care Hospital). He is interested in blogging as well as leveraging technology to improve clinical care, efficiency, communication, and access to scientific research. He loves the mountains and enjoys mountain biking, skiing, and golfing in his free time.

Advice for new advocates
  • Know your audience
  • Know your message 
  • Speak clearly and concisely 
  • You are the expert
  • Be confident
  • Believe in yourself and physical therapy
Contact Information

Tami Struessel PT, DPT, OCS, MTC

Tami is a Professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus and a clinician in Denver, CO specializing in Orthopedics. Her full biography can be found on the program website.

Advice for new advocates
Never underestimate the impact individual contact can make in the advocacy process for healthcare issues in general, and physical therapy issues in particular. In addition, a great way to get started in advocacy for the profession is to join the Colorado Chapter Governmental Affairs Committee.

Contact Information (preferred contact)

303-724-9140 (Alternative)