Lessons from a #DPTStudent Chat with Catherine Worthingham Fellows: Advocate!

Last week, the #DPTStudent chat had the privilege of talking to three Catherine Worthingham Fellows of the APTA, Dr. Nancy Kirsch (@KirschNancy), Rob Landel (@RLandelDPT) and Pam Duffy (@PamDuffyPT). As fellows, they have received the highest honor given by the APTA for exemplifying four core values throughout their career: advocacy, education, practice and research. It was an amazing honor to spend an hour with them discussing what they did to get where they are and how students can aspire to a similar level of excellence.

While the #DPTstudent chat approached this conversation with an open mind, a central theme quickly emerged: advocacy. Our profession is undergoing enormous change and it is on the shoulders of today’s students to lead it in the right direction. Dr. Duffy commented that “this generation of PT students brings such energy… students of today are there because they have a passion for what they want to do for patients and society and I really admire that.” This is the attitude we should advocate for and exemplify. We all decided to join this profession for a reason and it is up to us to work for it. So how can a student participate in advocacy?

Join the APTA (@APTAtweets). When asked how she benefited from the APTA as a new professional, Dr. Duffy noted how much information she gained from being a member. While you may not want to be on the front lines of advocacy, just staying informed is a step. Dr. Duffy also appreciated her early membership for the networking opportunities and stated that nearly every opportunity she had in those days was somehow related to her involvement.

Encourage others to join. This is more than just preaching. Dr. Nancy Kirsch made it a point to teach us that we should be finding out why people are not members. Instead of telling people why you are an APTA member, find out what’s important to them and help them figure out how membership can meet those needs. You can bring this attitude to all of your advocacy efforts.

Know your strengths, attack your weaknesses. You can’t do everything! As you move through your time as a #DPTstudent, be mindful of what you’re good at, what you’re interested in and what you’d like to improve at. Good at writing? Look for blogging opportunities. Terrible public speaker? Run for a class office and get better at it. By seeking out professional development opportunities via advocacy, you will graduate a well-rounded, and impressive, PT!

Seek out opportunities. This was a common theme amongst all of the fellows. At the end of the chat, Dr. Landel extended an invitation for any #DPTstudent watching to introduce themselves at upcoming conferences and the other fellows extended the same invitation. Accept the invite! You never know what may come out of interacting with leaders in your field. Bring this same philosophy with you to school and other local activities. There are opportunities to advocate everywhere, you just have to ask for them.

You can watch the chat in full here.

Again, we would like to extend our appreciate to Drs. Landel, Duffy and Kirsch for giving us their time and their lessons and we encourage every #DPTstudent to get out there and get involved!

#DPTstudent Chat Admin