The Monday Memo
November 14, 2016 PITT DPT STUDENTS
2016 PPTA Annual Conference
Two weekends ago several first-year DPT students and I traveled to the bucolic Lancaster County to volunteer at the 2016 PPTA Annual Conference, one of Pennsylvania’s largest annual continuing education conventions. The conference consisted of various poster and lecture-style platform presentations and exhibits, hosted by students, physical therapists, and notable professors from DPT programs around the country.
Our role as student volunteers consisted mainly of passing out contact hour sheets and informational pamphlets before and after our respective platform presentations that we were assigned to. We were fortunate in that while we were able to provide a helping hand to the PPTA community and assert our presence as Pitt students, we were still able to reap the benefits of the various educational opportunities around us in between our volunteer times. The particular lectures that I was able to attend were “Rehabilitation in MS: Promoting Functional Recovery and Neuroplasticity” and “Medical Screening for the Physical Therapist: The Sherlock Holmes Approach.” Though the first lecture was slightly outside of our current scope of practice as first year students, the latter was particularly relevant as it highlighted the importance of a thorough screening process in qualifying physical therapists as first contact practitioners. Although we do not typically make medical diagnoses of potential “red flag” pathologies that might warrant imaging or extensive medical work-up, our extensive screening process allows us to rule in or out the likelihood of those pathologies, and therefore the need for further imaging or medical referral. This process decreases the imaging-as-default technique that physicians tend to favor, resulting in decreased costs and increased overall efficiency of the health care continuum.
Advancing the field of Physical Therapy via increased direct access has been a recurring theme in Pitt’s DPT program and throughout the field in general, but there are other less-emphasized methods by which the field can be progressed that I picked up on during the exhibition tables in particular. Most of these tables were showcasing their PT-related products, such as visual feedback machines to work on balance, as well as apps to facilitate extracurricular therapy for patients during their period of treatment and after discharge. In addition to physical therapists’ evolution within the clinic in terms of the progression of our abilities and general scope of practice, we should also be thinking about how we can improve the overall therapeutic process for both patients and therapists. This can be accomplished by emphasizing creativity and intuition in our practice in ways similar to the above examples. We, especially as new and young practitioners with relatively minimal preconceptions and clinical habits, need to ask ourselves: what is the current state of Physical Therapy practice? How can we raise the bar upon our entry into the field? How can we apply the ideas and strengths of our generation to advance the field of physical therapy?
It is critical, therefore, to expose ourselves early on in our educational and professional careers to the field’s current level of thinking; the variety of ideas, techniques, and technologies circulating now; in order to get us thinking about how we can push our practice past the current status quo. The Annual Conference was a great way to get us thinking in that context.
A special thanks to Connor McGee, Doug Reeves, Rhadika Shah, and Ryan Thompson for making the long drive to join me in this experience.
Brooks Kenderdine, DPT Class of 2019
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