I have always tried to keep an open mind when it comes to where and what I would like to practice, but the reason I decided to attend PT school was because I loved using my hands on people. After a year of musculoskeletal classes affiliated with the Fellowship of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists, I knew I wanted to pursue manual therapy further.
A classmate and I decided to attend the annual conference for AAOMPT in San Antonio in October of 2014, and the experience was life-changing and reaffirming of my passion for evidence-based manual therapy.
The conference’s theme was Clinical Reasoning: The Science, Skills and Value of OMPT
This was a perfect opportunity to continue to build my clinical reasoning skills and listen to some of the best minds in manual therapy, pain science, and rehabilitation in general.
All of the presenters were fascinating, but my favorite session was Neuropathic or Peripheral Nerve Pain in the Causation and Maintenance of many Orthopedic Diagnoses by Jack Stagge. The presentation reminded every therapist to look not only peripherally, but also centrally for causes of pain and went over several tests to help rule in or rule out diagnoses.
Another key aspect of the conference was having all these great minds accessible, specifically on Twitter. Using the hashtag #aaompt2014 I was able to create separate dialogue with other therapists attending the conference. It was this hashtag that led me to meet the great Dr. Emilio “Louie” Puentedura. Louie responded to a remark I made on Twitter, and we hit it off from there.
The picture above just shows how many great clinicians want to help younger students and clinicians grow in their profession.
I am excited to go back to the conference next year and continue my education in the realm of manual therapy.
Sometimes an opportunity presents itself, and you are not 100% sure you should take it, but you plunge forward anyway. The American Physical Therapy Association’s Federal Advocacy Forum was just that opportunity. In April of 2014, I was privileged enough to attend this giant advocacy event with three other classmates.
I was nervous as the event called for us to speak to our Congresspeople on issues that affected physical therapists, but the entire first day was spent prepping us for these meetings. I learned the best ways to engage staff whether through email or phone calls. I learned that most Congresspeople really do care about their constituents, but there are so many issues they have a hard time keeping up with them.
When we actually went to Capitol Hill, I was armed with passion and a knowledge of the bills we were looking for support on and why we were looking for support on them. We rarely actually saw the Congresspeople. We mainly saw support staff related to Health Policy. Every one we came across was pleasant and willing to listen, and we garnered support with nearly every person with which we spoke.
In the end, I realized how important advocacy is for our profession and patients. People of Congress are inundated with bills, causes, and problems, and it is impossible to be an expert on all of it. This is why WE need to be experts on it.
I created a network that weekend and have continued to remain in contact with most of those people through the IPTA. I know my future in PT will be a future of State and Federal Advocacy, and I cannot wait to push our profession further.
In October of 2014, I attended the American Association of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists annual conference. I have an entirely different reflection on that, but it led me to join the Student Special Interest Group for AAOMPT. I became the Fundraising Chair and became a member of a great group of young leaders in physical therapy.
Technology is a wonderful thing, and it allows the SSIG to meet virtually once a quarter. We participate in Google Hangouts to plan events, discuss our goals and just share ideas. It is so rewarding to speak with other students with the same interests, but with different experiences.
We were able to meet at Combined Sections Meeting and talk about our individual futures as well as where we saw the AAOMPT sSIG in the next year. Four of the five attending were planning to apply for residencies. This was great for me to hear as I am applying to residencies, but am apprehensive with where to start. It was refreshing to meet face to face with the people I had been collaborating with for 6 months.
I have already planned one fundraising event for CSM and raised over $200 to fund student travel to the AAOMPT annual meeting. I am planning another event to provide travel for one more student.
I never expected to join a sSIG and be a chair member, but if there is one thing I have learned from life and school, it is that being open to anything will provide unexpected opportunities and valuable experiences.