The Monday Memo: 1/26/2015

The Monday Memo

January 26, 2015                                                                             PITT DPT STUDENTS

“Direct Access”

Many thanks to everyone that attended Pitt Preview this past Saturday.  We were more than excited to show everyone around our fantastic facilities and finally get to sit down and talk with the new class of DPT students set to start this June.  See you all soon!


As everyone heard mentioned by Professor Timko during his musculoskeletal presentation, one of the goals for physical therapy, as a profession, is unrestricted Direct Access for patients.  This past year, the pursuit for this freedom passed a huge milestone as Michigan became the 51st and final United States district to pass legislation allowing at least some form of Direct Access.


Direct Access has been around in some shape or form for decades and has always been dependent upon state-by-state healthcare legislation, but only now is it available across the country, including the District of Columbia.  In other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, it has been a staple for years, and it is the norm for anyone suffering from a musculoskeletal disorder to visit their physiotherapist right away, rather than wait for a referral. Direct Access in its unrestricted form allows for patients to see their physical therapists immediately, without having to first visit their primary care physician to receive a referral.  PTs can evaluate these patients and then treat them for a certain amount of time, typically 30 days, at which point if the patient has not improved they are required to then visit their PCP.  This type of system eliminates unnecessary health care costs, delays in treatments, prolonged discomfort for the patient, and over-utilization of imaging; all of which are the goals of new prospective health care models that were the motivation for health care reform in the past ten years.


However, with this type of system it brings into question as whether physical therapists are knowledgeable enough to properly evaluate and screen for more serious health issues than mechanical musculoskeletal disorders; and we would say that yes, they are.  The goal of Doctor of Physical Therapy programs is to produce practitioners that are educated in the screening of red flags for more serious diseases and know when to refer for further medical work-ups.  Currently, students at Pitt are taught that the first question a PT should ask themselves when seeing a patient is whether or not the patient is appropriate for physical therapy, or does the patient presentation indicate something more serious.  The first step in instilling widespread confidence in the capabilities of physical therapists is to properly educate and prepare the practitioners for the situations that is appropriate and inappropriate to treat.  Students at Pitt are taught this early, and they are reminded of it often as they are prepared to enter the field as proficient and capable future Direct Access practitioners.


SPOTLIGHT:  Thank you from Dr. Kelly and myself to all of the students that came and volunteered at Preview Pitt this past weekend!  Without your help the event could not have been as successful as it was.


-Michael Turnwald



Check the Calendar for Class Schedules and Events

Social Media Updates
  • #DPTstudent –  WEDNESDAYS , 9-10pm EST!   Check out #DPTstudent page for details!
  • Unite Physical Therapy Students – If you haven’t yet, please check out the “Doctor of Physical Therapy Students” Facebook page. More than 9,500 students have already joined!
  • Our own page! Pitt Physical Therapy, thanks to the Social Media Team, has created an official PittPT Facebook page!
  • #SolvePT (meets on Tuesdays Twitter from 9-10pm EST)
January 26, 2015 |

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