By Tom DiAngelis, PT, DPT
In August, I wrote about the events that had transpired at the 2014 House of Delegates and the actions of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Board of Directors. I was surprised, and encouraged, at the amount of discussion and the emails that followed. Seeing our membership engaged in this issue and being contacted by members questioning the implications of the actions taken was stimulating.
Based on the input surrounding the issues raised, I begin to question if PPS is at a crossroads. According to Merriam-Webster, one definition of a crossroad is “a crucial point especially where a decision must be made.”1 Are we—as a section—at a point where we must make decisions that could drastically change our future? Some of you have raised many questions, while others ask about what major decisions must be made. It truly is not just one decision, but several decisions that are interwoven with a variety of considerations.
One question that I am frequently asked: “Should we look at our service contract with APTA.” I am not sure how many of you are aware, but PPS does contract with APTA for management services and office space. This has not always been the case, but several years ago when the section fell on hard times financially, the decision was made to enter into a contract with APTA for these services. The arrangement has been a win-win, as it has served both PPS and APTA well. However, just because an entity or individual has served you well does not mean that the arrange- ment is a lifelong commitment. There comes a time when you must weigh the pros and cons of any agreement and decide whether to continue. The question should not be considered only from a financial standpoint, but also from a philosophical one. Are we at a crossroads where we have to consider a different arrangement for the management services and office location of the section?
Taking this notion a step further, some members questioned whether it was time for PPS to dis- engage from APTA altogether and become an independent entity. Obviously, the implications are much greater, requiring careful deliberation and analysis of the consequences. This raises many questions: Are we stronger or weaker if we separate ourselves from APTA? Can we have our own political action committee (PAC) that would be strong enough to stand on its own, or would we end up with two weaker PACs? Would we consider aligning with another established entity? What would the impact on membership be both to PPS and APTA? What are the financial implications? Many more questions exist, but the most important one remains: Are we approaching a crossroads where these discussions should be at the forefront of section discussions?
The PPS Board of Directors spends time at our board meetings having generative discussions about these exact questions. This should not be perceived as board intent, but is simply what boards should do on a regular basis. These discussions are healthy and thought-provoking as we try to navigate the section on the best course possible. We do not have the answers, but what we do believe is that as a section, we should start to look at and partner with organizations outside of APTA. However, where the section goes beyond that will require all members’ input regard- ing what you want for the future of your section.
The section is approaching a crossroads, a normal course that all organizations experience at different times. Should we turn—and if we do turn, which way?