As an SPT and even as a new graduate in the workforce, I always felt that advocacy for my profession was important but was too busy orienting myself to my new profession to even consider being involved on a bigger level. As I developed in my career, I felt called to do more.
Three years into my career, there was a student physical therapist at my clinic who was heavily involved in the APTA. She quickly became one of my mentors in encouraging my involvement in the APTA and asked if I would like to apply with her to be part of a new task force. The task force was addressing an issue that I was interested in, so I decided to apply. A few weeks later, I was disappointed to find out that I had not been selected for the task force due to lack of advocacy experience. I was frustrated – how could I possibly get experience if experience was a prerequisite for getting involved?
I decided to start attending my local PT Pub Nights to network with other like-minded professionals. It was a great way to connect with other professionals in the physical therapy community, and I enjoyed getting a taste of the bigger picture within my profession. After about six months of regularly attending Pub Nights, the organizer told me that she was moving to Boston. When I asked who would be organizing the Seattle events going forward, she said no one had volunteered. Seeing this as an opportunity to take on a leadership role in the local PT community, I asked if I could be the event organizer.
My first PT Pub Night was so much fun and ended up hosting almost 50 attendees. I got to know so many people who were involved in PTWA through these events. Eventually I was approached by Jim Shepherd from the Nominating Committee asking if I would like to run for the House of Delegates. I was elected, which I attribute to how much time I spent building relationships with local PTs at the Pub Night events. As a delegate, I met many esteemed PTs from across the state and found it easier to get involved in committees, meetings and events as my professional network expanded.
For someone who is struggling with where to start, I would recommend starting with something where the only requirement is simply to show up and have an interest. There are PT Pub Nights in Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane. Most metro areas have regular district meetings that anyone can attend. If you are interested in a specific topic or issue, consider joining a special interest group (SIG) or committee. These groups and committees are listed on the PTWA website and are open for members to join. Finally, consider attending Legislative Impact Day. This is a great way to not only connect with other PTs but also to your representatives in Olympia.
Recently, I was elected to Nominating Committee. I am so excited for this opportunity to hopefully seek out people who, like me as a younger professional, want to get involved but don’t know where to start. I hope to show our PT community the benefits of membership and the opportunities both big and small to get involved and make a difference in our wonderful profession.