By Terry C. Brown, PT, DPT
The 4:30 a.m. alarm clock rings too soon after I stayed up late watching the NCAA elite eight. A direct flight to Washington, D.C., leaves at 6:30 a.m., and I fly frequently enough that the gate agent knows me by name. Uneventful cab ride from Regan airport to my hotel, and as you would expect no rooms available for at least four hours. So here I sit in the lobby writing to you our members.
The trip this time is for a most important event, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Federal Advocacy Forum. I have actually attended 20-some of these events on the Hill. Why, you might ask? Because it is just that important!
There is little you can do that will have a greater impact on our profession than meeting face to face with your elected representative. In this age of partisan politics and unprecedented political tactics, we continue to be represented by individuals who have been elected by the people and I believe in most cases want to do what is right for their constituents. They must, however, hear from them and have the relationship that results in common trust that the information provided is real and in the best interests of the people back in their district. This is why the Private Practice Section (PPS) member can have such an impact. You are a voter, a business owner, employer, provider, and are in contact with hundreds of their constituents on a regular basis. This makes you someone who an elected representative needs to know. But you need to educate both the elected official and their staff that you are that person.
This is where the PPS Key Contact program comes in. We have developed a team of individuals who have committed to developing the relationship both at home and in DC with their elected representative. Our goal is to have a PPS Key Contact for each elected representative. PPS Key Contacts are provided with the education and training to know our issues and develop the skills to be an effective activist. As I write this in the lobby of the host hotel for the forum, I see PPS members arriving, both new and experienced, and feel the stir of excitement about what we can accomplish. This is activism at its best. It’s going to be a great few days.
I encourage each of you to get involved. PPS members working together can and do influence policy. Develop your relationship with an elected representative. Join the PPS Key Contact Group. Host an elected official in your clinic. Volunteer in a campaign for someone you believe in. If you need help or information, contact PPS. We are here for you. We are here for the success of your practice. We are here to advocate for our patients!