Information for Physical Therapy Assistants
2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first physical therapist assistant (PTA) graduates.
Though a half-century may seem like a long time, the rise of the PTA from something that seemed like a good idea to a recognized, well-established, and in-demand profession integral to health care represents a remarkably short ascendance. Today, it's hard to imagine the delivery of physical therapy without PTAs on the team. Take a look back at how the PTA profession came into being, and what's happened since.
The PTA Caucus is leading efforts to increase PTA representation within APTA to 10,000 members! From discounts to professional growth opportunities, including the growing PTA Advanced Proficiency Pathways program, APTA offers more benefits than ever before.
The APTA Maryland has a PTA Caucus Representative, Stephanie Thomson, who not only represents the Chapter with the National PTA Caucus, but also assists the Chapter to be the point contact for our PTA members to discuss interests and needs. Our PTA Caucus Rep sits on our Board of Directors. In addition we have an alternate PTA Caucus Representative, Gincy Stezar.
Connect with the PTA Caucus on social media.
The Importance of Getting Involved with APTA and Advocacy
The importance of advocacy and getting more involved in APTA. Doing so has brought about internal changes such as the Caucus and the full component vote, as well as external changes—such as a recent major policy change by TRICARE.
Recent graduate Ky Pak, PTA, agrees. "Allowing us to be suitable providers for TRICARE patients is a big win for us. And it shows that advocacy is important. If you stand up for yourself and say that you're a qualified health care provider, things can get done," says Pak, a former PTA Student Assembly Board of Directors member. Now working as a PTA at Kort Physical Therapy in Lexington, Kentucky, Pak already has seen what being involved in APTA can do. "The PTA Caucus has done a great job of moving the PTA in a good direction," he says.
PTA students, too, recognize the importance of being involved. "Advocacy is our way of furthering ourselves in our profession," says Molly Dalton, a student in her final semester in the PTA program at Somerset Community College in Kentucky. She was director of Student PTA Relations at APTA and is a former member of the Student Assembly Board of Directors. "It's important to have legislators on Capitol Hill—or even just within your state—understand that physical therapy is important," Dalton says. "We need to be included in all the facets that advocacy stands for. For example, I don't have a job unless I get paid, I don't get paid unless I have legislators supporting my field, and I don't have legislators doing that unless I have my chapter's support."
"Just getting involved in your state and your PAC [political action committee] can make a big difference," Dalton adds. "I know that I can be highly influential as a PTA."
Chris Junkins, PTA, who served as National APTA's PTA Caucus vice president and chief delegate, remembers when PTAs weren't licensed everywhere. Advocacy helped change that. "We've got licensure in every jurisdiction for PTAs. We've come a long way," he says. "It's just been amazing to see the growth in my nearly 50 years of working as a PTA."
"Advocacy helps not only with insurance payments, but also with improving the quality of the physical therapy profession and with getting the word out about us on a national and even global scale," says Harris. "It helps us let everyone know what physical therapy is and does, as well as that PTs and PTAs are a collaborative team."
"Seeing the overwhelming support for teamwork, and the collaboration and value of the PTA as part of the physical therapy team—that has been great, says David Harris, PTA (current chief delegate of PTA Caucus). "These are the things that will continue to build us as a profession and will prompt more PTAs to get involved. We've come a long way, but we have a lot more to do."