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.