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Making a Difference

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By Stacy M. Menz, PT, DPT, PCS

While the phrase above is not why so many of you give back, it illustrates the obvious as it relates to each of us—both individuals and companies—doing their part to create a productive society. Specifically, private practice physical therapists have many ways to “give back”; the most obvious is with our services and expertise. This month, there are a collection of articles discussing how to integrate providing treatment to underserved populations, with successful private practices. The articles in this issue do a great job of looking at how you can thrive as a business in an underserved area, various ways that underserved populations can be accessed, as well as how you can decide as a practice owner how best to integrate this into your existing practice.

Emily Monson’s article “Integrating Treatment of Underserved Populations in Today’s Private Practice” provides insight on what it takes to become successful and thrive in a small, rural area. The points she brings up are applicable to anyone in practice, whether small, large, rural, urban, overserved, or underserved. She discusses diversification of services, getting to know the clients that you serve and their specific needs, becoming involved in the community, and doing your research. What private practice could not also benefit from these same ideas?

Ann Wendel’s article “Transforming Society on a Global Scale” paints the picture that there is no one way to access underserved populations. There is no right way. It can be a pro bono clinic at a university, it can be educating and providing services in foreign countries, it can be staffing a hospital that serves people who are low income and may have nowhere else to go. Each of these scenarios are just one way we as a profession can access those who need us.

And lastly, Scott Spradling’s Administrative Edge article “Practical Programs for Providing Pro Bono Services in Your Practice” outlines options and a practical guide for how you can integrate pro bono services into your existing practice. He laid out a road map and options for how it may best work for your practice.

These articles provide a starting point for practices looking to expand their footprint to address Principle 8A in the American Physical Therapy Association’s Code of Ethics. I know that as I read these articles, I began to look at how my practice could better serve the health needs of the children and families who are either lower income or in an area that has less access to services. I do not have an answer yet, but I at least have the question to start.

How are you and your practice integrating the provision of services to underserved populations? We would love to hear your stories! 

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