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Protecting Our Profession

Vol. 17 •Issue 7 • Page 8
Letters to the Editor

Protecting Our Profession

To the Editor:

This is in response to the letter by Mark E.S. Bartlett, PT, RD, "Curbing Professional Intrusion" (Letters, Jan. 16).

First, I would like to commend Mr. Bartlett for his concern on personal fitness professionals possibly intruding on our profession. He is perfectly right when he said, "Something must change! If the laws and statutes need to change, then we need to do it."

It is not only personal trainers who are possibly intruding. There are other providers such as massage therapists, athletic trainers, etc. But what changes do we have to make to achieve the purpose of protecting our profession?

To propose some changes we have to make to protect our profession, I'd like to take this opportunity to comment on the above question.

First, on his concern about physical therapists just out of school getting a job in the hospital ambulating patients. I really don't see a problem with this. As a matter of fact, this is the first change that I would like to suggest.

We have to be proud of our profession! Walking patients in the hospital is one the roles we play in the acute-care setting. Would we entrust our family members and relatives who just had surgery to learn how to walk again from somebody off the street? Of course not! My hat is off to our colleagues working in the acute-care setting. Physical therapists are one of the higher paid professionals in the hospitals because we help patients restore their function, and walking is one of them.

Physical therapy is a very humble profession. We have to be proud of it! I truly believe that this is the first change we have to make.

Secondly, Mr. Bartlett asked: "What is the sense of requiring physical therapists, ATCs, MDs and DOs to have master's degrees and doctorates? What is the sense of the DPT degree when we can't write prescriptions, can't order X-rays, or tests?

As physical therapists, it is not necessary for us to write prescriptions or order X-rays to help our patients with musculoskeletal dysfunctions.

Furthermore, doctors of physical therapy have advanced their knowledge on pharmacology and imaging that can further assist them in evaluating and treating their patients.

I believe this is the second change we have to make to protect our profession—advance our studies in physical therapy to benefit our profession and the bottom line, to help our patients more.

Lastly, we have to unite as physical therapists. The best way to achieve this purpose is through the APTA. To some, the APTA membership could be an expense. However, in reality, the membership dues are our best investments for the future of physical therapy. We have to support our organization. This is the best way we can protect our profession.

When we become PTs who take pride in our profession, who are motivated to further our studies, and who are members of APTA, it will make physical therapy very strong.

–Gerry Catapang, DPT


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