I had never heard of the APTA Federal Affairs Forum (FAF) until I attended PTWA’s Legislative Impact Day on January, 26, 2017. Legislative Impact Day, where PTs, PTAs and students meet with state legislators to discuss current bills that will impact our profession that will be addressed this session. The FAF is the same type of event but addresses bills at a federal level.
Any APTA member can attend the FAF, which was held this year from March 26-28, 2017. The more therapists and students that attend, the more voices are heard and the stronger the message. Lucky for me, no experience was needed! APTA staff taught us all we needed to know in the two days before we actually went to the Hill.
Our state had six therapists in attendance. We had appointments with both of our senators and the representatives (or their staff) for each of our 10 districts. We had 15 minutes per appointment to review the bills that related to therapy, to relay personal stories and to help each senator or representative understand the impact on our profession that each bill would have.
This was such an amazing experience for me. I am so grateful to my Washington colleagues for their support. A surprise bonus for me was a much deeper appreciation for what the APTA does for us as a profession. I was able to witness the APTA strong presence on Capitol Hill, making a difference for MY career. I saw it, heard it, watched it and participated in it….it felt great! I have always been passionate about physical therapy – and advocating for it in a senator’s office was an honor. Advocacy work DOES make a difference! Being an APTA member IS important for our profession. This type of work requires funding, if we want to remain relevant, viable and be seen as a valuable member of our health care system. Supporting our PAC and the APTA is a huge part of that. I encourage you to get involved! It’s so rewarding!