Physical Therapy as a profession continues to push towards direct access, which allows patients to come to us first in hopes that we can diagnose and either treat them or refer them to the correct medical professional. However, are we able to fully understand the injury and the best path of treatment without seeing an x-ray or MRI? Should we as PTs have privileges to write scripts for MRIs and x-rays?

If PTs are given radiology privileges, are we educated enough to correctly interpret the results? Would DPT programs have to add more classes on radiology?

I can see the pros and cons of both sides so let’s talk about on Wednesday at 9pm EST!


Click here for analytics and transcript.


Transformation Scrutinization: Vison versus Reality

I wonder if academics in medieval universities had their own versions of Twitter debates about the use of the word “doctor.” I wonder if the opponents to its use decried it a foul and unfair title, which should be reserved only for the Apostles and those learned elite of the Catholic church (who had, of course, taken a test and paid the appropriate fee to earn such a prefix). That argument seems ridiculous now, but it’s a worthy perspective for us to consider, especially after a #DPTstudent tweetchat which debated just such a question: should we be called “Doctor” as physical therapists who have earned the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

My very intelligent and witty friend, Courtney Kelsch, who happens to be a student of the English language and an academic herself, later joined in the debate. She’s not a PT, nor a healthcare practitioner, but her post on Twitter reminded me of this perspective. She wrote, “…the title Dr comes from the Latin word for “to teach.” Origins in academia, was never tied solely to physicians. Which is to say, arguing that PTs should not be called doctors makes no sense. Doctoral degree = doctor.” Well stated, and for us, quite embarrassingly so. I wonder just what drives someone who is currently paying for, and working hard to obtain a DPT degree, to feel the title is unfitting for them? What is this? Professional insecurity? Something else?

Yet even as individuals entering this profession are reluctant to permit others to refer to them as a doctor of the field, the American Physical Therapy Association’s Board of Directors is proposing a new vision statement to guide us forward, “Transform Society.” Bold! But, it is appropriate?

Points of consideration:

-Things that I’ve considered transformative to society include antibiotics, air travel, mobile communications, the semi-conductor, the cotton gin, and fire. Public health as a collective overall field can perhaps make this list as well. When physicians in Texas embarked on a campaign to stop spitting on the sidewalks, everyone lived an extra year or two. Not quite as profound as the first flight, but yes, the applications of the germ theory of disease was transformative to society. I just don’t see the same effect happening from widespread deployment of movement impairment analysis.

-This past week a physical therapist related to me the following statement: “Since we are PT’s, we can’t eat until 12:45 once all the physicians have eaten.” The worst part is: this was spoken without indignant offense, but rather in passing as part of a separate story.

-In a video spot a few weeks ago, a physical therapist got on a national TV show and purported cutting edge techniques, which were in reality, non-evidence-based banter that most skilled PT’s would never touch. That damage will take a long time to be undone given the scope of the audience.

-In a thoughtful post written by Jay Deragon entitled, “5 Stages of Societal Transformation,” he states, “Those that reach the transformation stages are the groups who create meaningful and significant change that positively impacts the entire human network. These groups are philosophically connected and grounded in a common set of principles that guide everything they think and do.”

And that’s the catch for me.

I know the APTA Board of Directors is a cohesive group tied together by a common vision. In fact most of the physical therapists I interact with on a regular basis whether at work or through conferences would probably fit the definition of a cohesive group philosophically I just worry that this vision doesn’t extend to the reality of the multi-faceted body of physical therapists that ultimately define the profession. There are tens of thousands of physical therapists that don’t go to conferences, don’t engage in professional dialouge, and who use outdated practice patterns. One former student of mine went down the road to work at a clinic in Texas where the clinic’s owner was adamantly against the concept of direct access to physical therapists.

The examples in this post, from reluctance to use an earned degree title, to persistance in old practice patterns, to flat denial of the role of physical therapists as a primary access provider support my notion that perhaps physical therapy as a profession isn’t ready to transform society. Despite how ready my colleagues and I might be to fight and redefine the role physical therapists play in the health of our society, I worry that just as I wage the battle, others in my profession are undermining it.

So I’m left with the question: how do we transform them?

Work hard to improve health and find ways to engage society in new and different ways? I get it. I want it. But I’m afraid the interpretation of the “transform society” vision will be muted by the volume of those scoffing at it. Not all of those people scoffing will be strangers.




Last week, when we discussed the new proposed APTA vision we discussed several of the vision elements included within it. We briefly touched on interprofessional education and collaboration. The element of collaboration is written as follows in the new vision statement:

Collaboration: The physical therapy profession will demonstrate the value of collaboration with other health care providers, consumers, community organizations, and other disciplines to solve the health‐related challenges that society faces. Education models will value and foster interprofessional approaches to best meet consumer and population needs and instill team values in physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. In clinical practice, physical therapists, who collaborate across the continuum of care, will ensure that services are coordinated, of value, and consumer centered by referring, co‐managing, engaging consultants, and directing and supervising care. Interprofessional research approaches will ensure that evidence translates to practice and is consumer‐centered.

Are we as students given enough of an opportunity to learn about other health professions in order to foster great interprofessional collaboration once we are out in the working world? Do you think it is important that we learn the basics of what other practitioners do as well as educate them on our role as physical therapists? Let’s talk about it!


Click here for analytics and transcript.

#DPTStudent Topic for Wednesday, February 6, 2013: Beyond Vision 2020- Can We Transform Society?

Since 2000 the APTA has been making strides towards Vision 2020, a vision which outlined goals for the profession of physical therapy to reach by the year 2020. These goals included care that was provided by doctors of physical therapy, direct access to physical therapy by consumers and more.

In 2012 the APTA has created a vision that goes beyond Vision 2020. You can read more about it here. While this new vision includes aspects of advocacy, access and equality, innovation, value, collaberation and other strong points, the controversy lies in the first line of the proposed vision which states that “The physical therapy profession will transform society by optimizing movement for all people of all
ages to improve the human experience.”

Some argue that the words “transform society” is too strong. Others argue that those words are exactly what we need as a profession to get our point across. What do you think? Let’s talk about it!

Here is a great video of Bill McGehee, chair of the APTA Vision Task Force, discussing the updated APTA vision.


Click here for analytics and transcript.


By the time we have the letters DPT after our name we will all have gone through four years of undergraduate education plus three years of graduate level education that is PT specific. That is 7 years of higher education but is that enough to be able to call ourselves Doctor? Especially when our undergraduate degree did not have to be in pre physical therapy, biomechanics or exersice science (Mine is in accounting and statistics!).

I want to discuss this as it was a side topic from last weeks chat in which people felt very strongly one way or the other.

Should only PhDs or MDs be able to be called Doctor? Will you introduce yourself as “Hi, I’m Dr. (insert name here), I’ll be your physical therapist” or will you leave out the word doctor all together? With many professions now offering entry level doctorate degrees, does the word doctor have less meaning?

Think about it and then let’s talk about it on January 30th at 9pm EST!

Remember, there are going to be many opinions on this so let’s agree to disagree respectfully!


Click here for analytics and transcript.

The Ultimate Log ‘N Blog for PT app!

Screen Shot of ProtoGeoI wish I had this newly released app last week during CSM 2013! Moves by Protogeo Oy, brings a sweet new movement tracker to the field of personal data monitoring. With no need to purchase a new device, charge it, or risk losing it, Moves is a smart phone app that uses a combination of your phone’s accelerometer and some server-based processing to determine what you are doing and when. Cycling? Got it. Running? Got it. Driving to the next trailhead? Got it covered. (I wouldn’t swim with your phone…but…)

I’d like to see a social component developed on this, but you can share screenshots or summaries of your feats with friends easily enough. This may just be the app every DPT Student needs to track their miles for the Log N’ Blog for PT fundraiser. And, it’s FREE! Enjoy!

#DPTstudent Chat Topic for Wednesday, January 23, 2013: Are We More Than Just Ultrasound and Tiger Balm Patches?

In a follow up to Dr. Eric Robertson’s post last week, “There’s no Such Thing as Bad Press” about the way Physical Therapists have been defined by the media and even how some PTs have portrayed our profession, I want to discuss how this makes you feel as a DPT student and what we can do for both the media and the public to have a better understanding of or profession. Take a look at Dr. Robertson’s post, form some opinions, and join the chat on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 9pm EST!


Click here for analytics and transcript.


#DPTstudent Chat Topic for January 16th: APTA’s CSM Conference- What’s in it for the SPT?

Image courtesy { pranav } via Flickr
Image courtesy { pranav } via Flickr

Yeah, this is were CSM is!

Next week, many DPT students are jet setting across the country to sunny to San Diego for the APTA Combined Sections Meeting. What made you decide to go? What do you hope to get out of it? We will discuss the benefits of being there as well as chat about your thoughts about what being an APTA member means to you. Talk to you all on Wednesday evening at 9pm EST on the next #DPTStudent tweetchat!



Click here for analytics and transcript.

Specializing in the Field of Physical Therapy- #DPTstudent Topic for Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

#DPTstudent Tweetchat topic for January 9th, 2013: Specialization in Physical Therapy

Once we graduate from PT school and have those three amazing letters of DPT after our name, we are considered to be a well rounded practitioner. So where do we go from there? Do you feel that it is a good idea to find your niche within the field and really focus on it and become an expert? Or do you feel that we should continually brush up on all aspects of care and remain general practitioners? Can we have the best of both worlds? There are pros and cons to all sides. Let’s talk about it!


Click here for analytics and transcript.


Does your DPT program have an organized mentorship/buddy program? How has this helped you? Are you a mentor to someone in a class below you? What do you do help them and motivate them?

If your school does not have a formal mentorship program organized- did you adopt a mentor from the class above you? Would you want your school to start a mentorship program? Let’s talk about it! 9pm EST this Wed, December 12th.

PT school is a strange place and I as a 1st year student I am thrilled to have a second year giving me the inside scoop on classes, teachers, and the way things work around here.



Click here for analytics and transcript.