A Student’s Reflection on The Scully Lecture
In the Scully lecture, Dr. Delitto discussed a hot topic issue that our country, the opioid epidemic. Each year many people go see their doctor for low back pain (LBP). While some patients get a referral for physical therapy, even more receive pain medications. The question I’m sure many of you are asking is “Why isn’t everyone being referred to PT?” or “Why don’t patients just come see us first?” As physical therapist, it seems obvious that we can best treat these individuals and provide them with the best care, but how do we get everyone else to see it this way?
As I am beginning to realize, it is going to be a slow process of building our brand and getting people to recognize physical therapists as first contact practitioners. Although this won’t happen overnight, we should not take a back seat in the meantime. As young professionals, we now have the opportunity to shape this brand and the profession that we will be working in for years to come. For one, we can use social media to share our experiences as physical therapists and inform others about what we do. This is one of the most accessible resources available to us, one that we are all familiar with, and best of all, it’s free! As physical therapists, we can also make sure to be active in the community, whether it is participating in sports for individuals with disabilities or screening runners at a local race. The more contact we have with people, the better we can educate them about what we do. Individuals who have been to physical therapy are more likely to go to a physical therapist as a first contact provider in the future. Lastly, I encourage you all to become involved with the APTA. As our professional organization, they support us through legislative advocacy, clinical practice guidelines, and campaigns for public awareness.
-Robert Jesmer, SPT