Being held a bit earlier than normal this year -- and mid-week -- to accommodate an unprecedented growing attendee list, APTA's Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) will head to "America's Finest City" from Jan. 21-24. Last year, the conference attracted nearly 13,000 attendees to Chicago -- a more than 50 percent increase over the last four years.
The eighth largest city in America and second largest city in California with a population of 1.3 million, San Diego is celebrated for its pleasant year-round weather, 70 miles of gorgeous coastline and recent rise as a healthcare and biotechnology hub. This year, it's also an ideal location to house the conference's ever-growing number of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, students, and exhibitors.
Roughly 200 canyons and hills form pockets of open space throughout the city creating a natural hilly geography. In addition, the San Diego River runs centrally from east to west, which functions to split the city into northern and southern sections. In the late 1800s, San Diego's "red light" district thrived in the historic heart of the city, though revitalization efforts have transformed the Gaslamp Quarter and today you'll find a flourishing 16.5-block dining, entertainment and shopping district there.
Minutes from downtown is Balboa Park, which has been classified as one of the world's "best parks." The nation's largest urban cultural park boasts art, science, space and other museums; a number of performing arts venues; a beautiful Botanical Building and Rose Garden; and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. A must-see for all ages, the San Diego Zoo was founded in 1916, houses more than 4,000 animals from species around the world and is open 365 days a year. For some wet and wild fun, don't miss SeaWorld San Diego -- open year-round -- for your chance to feed and touch dolphins, catch a glimpse of a polar bear up close, see threatened sea turtles at Turtle Reef and more.
Wondering what type of weather to expect during your stay? San Diego boasts a climate that makes it the ultimate year-round destination. With an average daytime temperature of 70 degrees on the San Diego Convention Center's outdoor terraces, you might want to pack your sunscreen.
San Diego's world-renowned attractions, award-winning restaurants and flourishing arts community will surely keep attendees both entertained and inspired while in town this winter.
A Little Bit Of Local Insight
While the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld are decidedly two of the city's most well-known attractions, California Physical Therapy Association (CPTA) president James Syms, PT, DSc, ATC, SCS, noted some additional sights to see for attendees who have a little extra time to explore the city, such as the Birch Aquarium located in Balboa Park, the many shops of Seaport Village situated conveniently near the convention center, and Navy Pier, home to the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum with the aircraft carrier USS Midway CVB-41. He mentioned the San Diego-Coronado Bridge as another landmark to visit while in San Diego. The bridge is 2.1 miles in length and ascends to a height of 200 feet to allow U.S. Navy ships to pass underneath it.
"The city is also home to the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon, the collegiate football post-season Holiday Bowl, and two major professional sports teams: baseball's Padres and football's Chargers," said Dr. Syms, noting that sports fans should make a point to visit Petco Park, an open-air ballpark that is home to the San Diego Padres Baseball Club and offers magnificent views of the city. Additionally, he advocates paying a visit to Balboa Park's San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, the country's largest multi-sport museum at 68,000 square feet, offering three floors of sports memorabilia.
But perhaps Dr. Syms' favorite San Diego claim to fame? Its fish tacos. That's right, the tasty meal -- a delicacy long associated with surfers - is ordered in hundreds of fish taco eateries throughout the city. Deep-fried or grilled, smothered in sauce and wrapped in a tasty tortilla, fish tacos might be San Diego's best food delicacy.
Looking to taste test the local flavor during your visit? Dr. Syms recommends paying a visit to Old Town Mexican Cafe, known for their handmade tortillas; El Indio Mexican Restaurant, in operation since 1940; and the Water Front Bar and Grill, San Diego's oldest tavern established in 1933. For a change from Mexican food, Dr. Syms said any of the restaurants in the Little Italy section offer "excellent" Italian food. He also recommended Point Loma Seafood and Humphreys by the Bay.
A Chance to Network
It's just a quick 10-minute taxi ride from the San Diego International Airport to the San Diego Convention Center, situated in the pulsating city's downtown section and next to the beautiful San Diego Bay.
As far as events at the conference go, the Opening Ceremonies is a must-see event, said Dr. Syms.
"There are more than 50 alumni reunions at CSM that will allow physical therapists and physical therapist assistants the opportunity to reconnect with classmates," he said.
Networking opportunities abound at APTA's Combined Sections Meeting in San Diego, with more than 10,000 physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in attendance.
"It is without question the best networking opportunity for any physical therapist or physical therapist assistant," Dr. Syms stated.
When asked why it is a good idea for physical therapy professionals to develop a professional network outside of their state, Dr. Syms responded that the world has become a global community. Therefore, the opportunities for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants are nation- and worldwide.
"At the APTA Combined Sections Meeting, attendees will be able to network with colleagues from all over the country and explore what physical therapy opportunities there may be in other states," he said.
CSM Conference Highlights
At the meeting, 18 specialty areas will have educational programing for all clinicians. There will be lectures on clinical practice, education and the administration of physical therapy services. There will also be lectures and poster presentations on the most current research in the physical therapy profession.
As part of a simpler schedule this year, sessions are going to start and finish at the same time every day in order to allow for better session planning.
The CSM Exhibit Hall, which is open from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Jan. 22-23 and 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Jan. 24, will showcase the latest products that are available to physical therapy professionals.
As the state host of CSM 2013, the CPTA will be taking an active role in this year's event by hosting a preconference course on Jan. 20. "Functional Biomechanics of the Lower Quarter: Implications for the Evaluation and Treatment of Musculoskeletal Disorders, Part 1" will feature Christopher M. Powers, PT, PhD, FAPTA, emphasizing current research findings in gait analysis, lower-limb function and joint biomechanics. Part 2 of the course will take place the following day.
Note that all of the APTA sponsored evening activities will take place at one of the following locations: San Diego Hilton Bayfront, Hilton San Diego Gaslamp, Marriott Marquis and Marina and Omni San Diego.
Recently, San Diego was recognized as the country's convention and meetings destination, and it's not hard to see why. Surrounded by scenic, sunny attractions, you'll "come for the conference and stay for the vacation," as they say.
APTA hosts three national conferences each year: CSM, APTA Conference & Exposition, and National Student Conclave (NSC). CSM occurs every January or February and is touted as "a collaborative effort between APTA and its 18 specialty sections." CSM 2014 will be held next year from February 3-6 in Las Vegas, NV.
Beth Puliti is a frequent contributor to ADVANCE.