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National Advocacy Dinner: Call to Action

Thursday, February 14, 2019   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Nicholas
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National Advocacy Dinner: Call to Action

By: Becca Sutton, SPT, South College

The APTA President Dr. Sharon Dunn, a pioneer in the field, said “Policies are not being made for the clinician of today. They’re being made for the students of tomorrow. You are the future of the profession.” If we do not stand and advocate for our future, the priorities and direction of our profession could be altered. As students, it is our duty to empower and inspire each other to be better. It is imperative that we learn about the current issues and challenges we are facing and to become involved. We cannot continue to secure the future of our profession without each other’s support. After all, we are “Better Together”.

Sixteen thousand professionals and students gathered in Washington D.C. to engage and advocate for the field of Physical Therapy at Combined Sections Meeting at the end of January. I was excited to be part of the motivating & contagious energy surrounding the city each day. With my interest being geared to Sports PT, I attended lectures with inspirational and knowledgeable speakers covering topics on treating the athlete with low back pain, PNE+ for tendinopathy management and neuroplasticity after ACL repair. I also had the opportunity to step outside of my sports zone and attended lectures on cardiopulmonary endurance testing and Women’s Health. In addition, I was fortunate to network with students and professionals from across the country at dinners and social events including AAOMPT social, the Pain Special Interest Group meeting and the Student Assembly general meeting.

Being surrounded by pioneers in our field inspired my thinking about how far our profession has come in the past few decades. Because of the dedicated service of many people, Physical Therapists have a strong presence in the ever-changing world of health care. They advocated for hot topic issues like direct access, and we have some form of direct access in all 50 states. They advocated for PT’s role in the opioid crisis and now the CDC recommends physical therapy as a safe and effective way to manage pain. They did this because of their passion for our profession and in doing so secured a future for us students. The creation of the Student Assembly created a strong and collective voice for students from across the country. The APTA Student Assembly is an open and inclusive environment that has allowed me to engage in advocacy and make lifelong acquaintances. I currently am serving on the APTA Student Assembly Advocacy Project Committee where our primary role is to facilitate National Advocacy Dinners around the country. In this role, I get to interact and encourage students from all over the country to be involved in advocating for our profession.

As I returned home after CSM, I realized the necessity of staying involved. A National Advocacy Dinner is a great way for students to start their involvement. This is a community-based event to empower students to engage in local, state and federal issues that are impacting our profession. After the event, students will be more informed and ready to be an advocate for PT. If you are interested in hosting or attending a National Advocacy Dinner, please reach out!

I hope this article fuels you to take action to be more involved at the local, state or national level. I personally am looking forward to opportunities to be an active and engaged member of our profession.

*** You may reach out to Becca Sutton, SPT, APTA SA Advocacy Project Committee at or on twitter at @beccasuttonSPT .



This year, National Advocacy Dinners should be scheduled April 3 - May 12, 2019.

Any student can organize a National Advocacy Dinner in their area! Connect with your classmates and form a team of volunteers. APTA Student Assembly Professional Advocacy Project Committee has provided the following resources to help guide you in planning a National Advocacy Dinner. Including information on: securing a venue and date, setting the agenda, marketing the event, outreaching to speakers and sponsors, examples of previous dinners - and more.

IPTA National Advocacy Dinner Sponsorship Application

While these advocacy dinners are entirely student organized, the IPTA is accepting applications for funding to help offset the cost of food provided at these events.

Students interested in applying for financial sponsorship for the purpose of providing food during their event may apply here..

2019 Sponsorship Applications are due March 1, 2019


Share your thoughts! Comment below!



Christina M. Frank PT MBA says...
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2019
As someone in the PT profession for 30+ years, the PT profession has come a long way with still so far to go. Keep that energy alive to further promote and expand our field.
Michael R. Riley PT says...
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Thanks for your submission. I have been very involved in advocacy and ask myself many times why more therapists are not. In many organizations there are fortunately many that understand that the work they are doing is for the benefit of the whole. These individuals seem to work knowing that the end product will protect those that will come in the future. I often ask therapists how they cannot afford not to be a member and advocate for their profession and their answer is that it is too expensive. Our profession is doing a better job today of educating our new therapists of the importance of membership. Imagine if we could move our membership needle to 60 percent of all therapists being members. Truly, there is strength in numbers!

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