PPTA Student Attendee offers Federal Advocacy Forum Blog

by Jeffrey Rothman | Apr 10, 2017

My Experience at the Federal Advocacy Forum...

Victoria Wrightson, SPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Temple University, Class of 2018

 

            I recently traveled to San Antonio for CSM, and after being surrounded by thousands of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students from across the country, I was filled with energy and excitement to be part of the large physical therapy community. I wanted to become more actively involved to help my future profession continue to make advances to better serve our patients. The APTA’s Federal Advocacy Forum in Washington, DC provided me with an opportunity to do so. Upon registering for the event, I was unsure of what to expect. I worried that as a student I would not have enough experience to effectively advocate for the profession on Capitol Hill. I never expected myself to have the courage to speak with Pennsylvania’s Senators and Representatives. By day two of the Forum, however, I felt ready to speak up. I hope that by sharing my experiences with other students I can influence others to become more actively involved in advocacy. Here is an overview of my advocacy experience.

            Monday was a day spent learning about recent changes in leadership, politics and healthcare. We learned about President Trump’s administration, about the future of alternative payment methods, and about strategies we can use to effectively advocate for our causes. My friend Nicole and I also attended the student advocacy session, where we met students from California to Connecticut and everywhere in between. We learned how we can implement advocacy strategies here at Temple University. Before breaking out into our state groups, we learned about the current federal legislative and regulatory issues that the APTA is advocating for on Capitol Hill. The five major issues include: the Medicare therapy cap, the inclusion of physical therapists in the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, the Sports Medicine Licensure Clarity Act, concussion legislation, and #ChoosePT. To end our day Monday, we broke out with our states and made final plans for Tuesday’s visits to the House and Senate. Monday night we had some fun, too. Nicole and I attended the PT-PAC’s fundraiser at a bar in Capitol Hill where we networked with other students and enjoyed some drinks and appetizers.

 

            Tuesday was the big day- the day we went to the Senate and House to speak with our government leaders. Luckily, my Pennsylvania group members were very friendly, encouraging and helpful. We began our morning by visiting Senator Pat Toomey’s office. He was unavailable to meet with us, so we met with his legislative aide that covers healthcare. In the past, Senator Toomey has not voted in favor for any of the bills that the APTA has advocated for, however our group felt that we made a more positive impact on his aide this time around. Senator Casey has supported the Medicare therapy cap bill in the past, so at the meeting with his aide we thanked his office for their support. Here, I surprised myself and spoke up about my passion for concussion prevention and why a more standardized concussion protocol needs to be established. Nicole and I also spoke up in support of the Loan Repayment Program. It was empowering to advocate for our profession with the support of our Pennsylvania group members.

             Overall, my experience at the Federal Advocacy Forum was one of learning and empowerment. I met hundreds of clinicians and students from across the country and had the opportunity to advocate for our profession in a more active way than I could at home. I hope that in the future more students from Pennsylvania attend!

Victoria Wrightson, SPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Temple University, Class of 2018