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Veteran PT, Industry Advocate, Joins VGM Advantage


VGM Advantage has hired Stephen Anderson, PT, DPT, to serve as its new senior health care advisor.

In his new role, Anderson, a 37-year physical therapist veteran, will provide business consulting and thought leadership to VGM Advantage’s membership group. Included in his consulting services will be a series of recorded videos and podcasts. Titled “Profiles in Leadership,” the program will be used to help engage with members across the nation.

APTA Announces the 2016 Honors and Awards Program Recipients

Each year the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) honors outstanding achievements on the part of its members in the areas of overall accomplishment, education, practice and service, publications, research, and academic excellence. The following Private Practice Section members have been selected by APTA’s Board of Directors to receive the following awards:

Patricia A. Hageman, PT, PhD, FAPTA
Award: Catherine Worthingham Fellow of APTA

Stephen McDavitt, PT, DPT, MS, FAAOMPT, FAPTA
Award: Catherine Worthingham Fellow of APTA

Robert M. Poole, PT, DPT, MEd, ATC, FAPTA
Award: Catherine Worthingham Fellow of APTA

Anthony DiFilippo, PT, DPT, MEd, OCS
Award: Lucy Blair Service Award

Cindy Miles, PT
Award: Lucy Blair Service Award

Margot M. Miller, PT
Award: Lucy Blair Service Award

John D. Childs, PT, PhD, MBA, FAPTA
Award: Marian Williams Award

Fred Gilbert, PT, DPT
Award: Mary McMillan Scholarship Award

Award recipients will be recognized during the Honors & Awards Ceremony on Thursday, June 9, 2016, from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the NEXT 2016 Conference and Exposition in Nashville, Tennessee.

We applaud these individuals for their outstanding accomplishments.

Past Robert G. Dicus Award recipient Ernie Burch, PT, FAPTA

As a Private Practice Section (PPS) Awards Committee member writing about past recipients of the APTA PPS Robert G. Dicus Award, I had the privilege of interviewing Ernie Burch, PT, FAPTA. Despite all of his significant accomplishments within the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and being an icon in physical therapy private practice, Burch remains a modest and gracious gentleman who is an absolute pleasure.

After serving in Korea as a U.S. Army infantry officer from 1951 to 1954, Burch graduated from physical therapy school in 1956 from the University of Pennsylvania. He had planned on attending dental school, though one of his friends and, 1955 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Bill Rhodes, talked him into instead pursuing physical therapy as a career. The physical therapy profession has certainly benefited from his decision.

After graduating from school, Burch worked at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, progressing from staff physical therapist to chief physical therapist before leaving in 1967 to join his long-time friend, Bill Rhodes, in private practice. They established Burch, Rhodes & Loomis in Baltimore.

Their practice was innovative and successful from the start. As far as Burch believes, they were the first private practice in the country to accept students for clinical affiliations. He has always been passionate about mentoring and trying to grow the next generation of private practitioners. After decades of success in private practice, he sold shares of the practice to his employed therapists at a discounted price to foster their engagement in private practice physical therapy. Mentoring and teaching was important to Burch, as he also served as a guest lecturer and clinical educator at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Department of Physical Therapy from 1967 to 1994.

Though Burch was quite successful in private practice and in his mentoring of upcoming physical therapists, he truly shined in the depth and breadth of service to the APTA. He has had a great impact on our profession as we know it today. His introduction to involvement in the professional association started with him serving as the secretary for the Maryland Chapter of APTA in 1959, where he recalls fondly his good fortune to be mentored by then Maryland Chapter president Florence Kendall. Burch’s professional activities and the awards he has received over the years are pages long. Here are a few highlights of his most significant activities and awards:

  • Maryland Chapter – President 1963-1965
  • APTA – Vice President 1985-1988
  • APTA Private Practice section – President 1988-1992
  • APTA Henry and Florence Kendall Award for Outstanding Achievement 1978
  • APTA Lucy Blair Memorial Service Award 1979
  • APTA Catherine Worthingham Fellow Award 1992
  • APTA PPS Robert G. Dicus Award 1994

Burch states that he has so many wonderful memories of serving in the physical therapy profession and has had the privilege to learn from some incredibly talented and inspiring colleagues. He says it is hard to pick what he is most proud of. While serving as APTA PPS president, he took PPS from debt to financial stability and achieved a healthy reserve by the end of his term.

During his 40-plus years of service to the physical therapy profession he impacted many key areas: lobbying for direct access by PTs, referral for profit issues, and many other areas affecting our profession. On the topic of reimbursement and referral for profit Burch was quoted as saying, “All of our reimbursement battles are about so much more than monetary compensation. We are fighting for the rights of our patients.”

2014 Robert G. Dicus Award Winner Patrick Graham, PT, MBA


Past PPS president Tom DiAngelis, PT, and Patrick Graham, PT, MBA, at the 2014 PPS Conference Awards Gala.

“I am a very humbled man who is extremely grateful for this award and opportunity. I truly feel like the most blessed man alive.”

When Tom Diangelis called me, I thought “Oh man, he must be calling for money,” but I answered the call since it was Tom. The call was not about money, and I was shocked when he said, “I would like you to speak at opening ceremony.” I thought what in the world would he want me to talk about? I was speechless and overcome with emotion when he told me that I had been awarded the Dicus Award. I could barely get out the phrases, “Are you sure?” and “Thank you!” I was told that I had up to 15 minutes to speak, and I wondered if that included extra time for my Southern drawl.

This evening is even more special to me as I look around the room into faces that mean the world to me. My wife, Susan, and two daughters, Mary Frances and Katie Claire, made the trip with me and I am also honored to have my parents, Dr. Donovan and Wilma Graham, here tonight. These people help define who I am and have supported every step I have made. There are other faces that I see in the crowd that have nurtured my journey as a physical therapist and as a member of the Private Practice Section (PPS). There are too many names to call but there are two people that have made such a mark on my life that I know I would not be standing before you as a Dicus Award recipient without their guidance, support, and friendship. Steve Anderson and Drew Bossen, you are true friends in the profession, in the section, and in life. Thank you and love you guys!

Everyone in this room has a unique story to tell. All of our stories are still being written and the illustrations are still being drafted. There are parts of our stories that we choose to put in but there are also parts that seem to have chosen us and were not in our control. All of these parts make up who we are and write our story. My journey to become a physical therapist started with a part of my story that I did not choose. I tore up my knee playing soccer in college and ended my career with surgery. Honestly, I had never heard of a physical therapist before and after my first visit as a patient, I was not sure I ever wanted to see one again. As my knee began to heal, I admired and was intrigued by the physical therapy profession and changed my major from pre-med to physical therapy. As I began to call physical therapy schools in the South, I found out that applications were due within the next two days. After overnighting an application, cramming in a physics class in three weeks, and contacting people who I had never met before for living arrangements, I pulled into Augusta, Georgia, at 3:00 a.m. in 99 degree weather with 100 percent humidity! That ended up being a great part of my story as Susan, my wife, was also in that class.

I have been blessed with so many opportunities in Columbus, Georgia, working with my father-in-law and brother-in-law in a 59-year-old practice that prides itself in the care of its patients and the top-notch therapists that it employs. Today, I run the practice with Brian, my brother-in-law, and am very fortunate that he as well as the entire company understand and promote the importance of being involved with PPS and support my journey. That leads me to a part of my story that I did have something to do with. In 1998, I planned to attend my first PPS meeting in Chicago and my father-in-law, George McCluskey, called an old friend and former Dicus winner himself, Ernie Burch, and asked him to find me and speak to me. That is the kind of thing we do in the South! Ernie did indeed find me and introduced me to Marilyn Moffet and Larry Fronhiser, who was the PPS president at the time. I expressed, with my Southern accent and my naïve understanding of how things worked, my desire to be involved. Before I knew it, I was asked to be chair of the Government Affairs committee. I honestly had no idea what that meant or what was involved, but I knew it was going to help write my story.

I was part of American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and PPS Government Affairs for 15 years and had the privilege of being on the board for PPS for eight years. To have the opportunity to network with other therapists in like practices through the PPS is educational, supportive, and informative. I am a better therapist, a better leader, and a better administrator because of what I have learned through PPS. We all have a common goal of providing the best patient care possible in every situation and circumstance, even under pressing times in health care. I encourage those of you that are sitting in the audience that want to be involved to go after it, jump in, ask what you can do. Help write that chapter of your story. I can tell you from personal experience that you will receive far more than you give. For those of you out there that know me, you will appreciate my statement that wearing a seersucker suit and white buck shoes can also help when you want to be noticed.

Our personal stories include a lot more than what happens in PPS or in our journey as a therapist or health care provider. Personal challenges and unfortunate circumstances cross all of our lives. I always say that everyone has challenges whether it is related to health, finances, or relationships but the important thing is what you do with those challenges and how you handle them. As many of you know, health issues have written a lot of my story but because of them, I am a better caregiver to my patients and I can better understand what it means to be scared as a patient. I can more easily share the message of hope because that is what drives me every day. My story is unique. Your story is unique. Like the Capital One commercial says, “What’s in your wallet?” I ask you today, “What’s in your story and how are you helping to write it?” Thank you again for this incredible honor and opportunity to stand before a room full of my heroes!”

2015 R. Charles Harker, Esq. Policy Maker Award


We are happy to announce that HPA The Catalyst (the Section on Health Policy & Administration of APTA) wishes to recognize Sandra Norby’s, PT, numerous contributions to health policy with the 2015 R. Charles Harker, Esq. Policy Maker Award.

This award was created in 1997 by the Section on Health Policy, Legislation & Regulation (now the Section on Health Policy & Administration) to recognize APTA members whose actions have significantly impacted health policy, who have demonstrated leadership in health policy making at the state or national levels, and initiated a policy shift of broad magnitude for the profession.

Sandra Norby, PT, of Le Mars Physical Therapy, PLLC has been a physical therapist since 1989, when she graduated from the University of Iowa with her master’s physical therapy. Sandy has also been a certified athletic trainer for many years. Her primary focus today is orthopedics including sports, work injuries, and total joints. She also has experience in neurological rehab for strokes and balance problems. Sandy has a strong personal commitment for the physical health and wellness for the people of Plymouth County. Norby most recently was the director of Rehab for the Center of Neurosciences, Orthopedics and Spine in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. She is well-known in the Siouxland medical community. Norby is involved in the American Physical Therapy Association, serving on the Reimbursement Committees of both the Iowa PT Association and the Private Practice Section.

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