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House of Delegates Update, by Adena Carter

27-Dec-2019 2:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

The Fall meeting for APTA of Montana (MAPTA), saw changes to our delegation with appointment of myself to the the Chief Delegate position, relieving Mary Beth Wilson. So, here I am heading the HOD's portion of the newsletter. Firstly, I would like to thank Mary Beth for her service to MAPTA and her support of the delegates. We will miss you. I am excited to welcome back Joseph Parker who was elected to the Four Year Delegate Position. I think Joe will be a key figure in our association moving forward. Welcome to Holly Ferguson, our new One Year Delegate. Holly has 25 year of PT experience. She is eager to serve, looking for ways to stay involved in the Association beyond her one year position. Finally, Lori Graybill remains our representative for the PTA caucus. Her contributions at the state level with the PTA vote have been invaluable. For all of us, I anticipate a great year ahead. 

Fall and winter are the quieter seasons for the House of Delegates. There is one motion, however, coming down the house pipeline which I believe is of interest to us all and the profession. To be part of the House of Delegates is an honor. There is an energy to the house which infuses us all. It is a patriotic experience which fills one with pride to be part of the Physical Therapy Profession. The most inspiring aspect to me, is president Sharon Dunn's keynote speech. She asks us to be more, do more and aspire to lead our profession to greater heights. This year, President Dunn challenged us to address the financial burden of Student education and debt. See link below: 


In July, the Arizona delegation started a conversation with robust dialogue ensuing. As one would guess this is a complex, multifaceted issue which is not unique to our profession. However, let’s go back to get a little perspective. At the 2106 HOD, RC-11-16 passed. The motion was written as follows: 

“That the APTA evaluate existing and emerging data available from internal and external sources, such as ACAPT and CAPTE, to identify potential effects of student loan debt upon the physical therapy profession, and to develop a plan with feasible options to address the identified issues, with implementation initiated no later than June 2018.” 

As a result of this motion, the APTA developed the Financial Solutions Center. In 2016, the Education Leadership Partnership (ELP) was formed in response to the Excellence in Education Task Force. It is a collaboration of APTA, the Academy of Physical Therapy Education (APTE), and the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT). ELP created a task force to further investigate, “the issues influencing student debt,” A final report is due at the 2020 CSM. 

Addressing student debt is aligned with the APTA's strategic plan for Stewardship, which aims to, “foster Long-Term Sustainability of the Physical Therapy Profession- champion students and early-career issues including debt burden and career-earning potential.” 

Arizona is now proposing a motion which reads as follows: “Charge- Financial Transparency of Education Programs for Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants.”

Full disclosure would entail annual publication of data to assist students and all stakeholders to make informed decisions. Arizona proposes collecting the following information: 

  • Cohort size of the first-year class at the time the report is submitted to CAPTE 

  • Total cost of tuition for the entire program (not by unit, semester, or term because these vary by institution) 

  • Total additional fees charged for the entire program 

  • Average annual living expenses for the geographical area of the program 

  • Total program operational costs including total faculty and staff payroll costs (including full-time, part-time, adjunct, etc.) 

  • The amount of subsidy required by the university, state or other sources to meet total program operational costs, or the amount of surplus above total program operational costs that accrued to the university in the previous fiscal year 

  • A link to each program’s curriculum, listed by each academic session each year 

  • Ultimate National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) pass rates for each program (not the first time, but ultimate pass rates) 

  • Graduate employment rate at 6 months after graduation 

This is a comprehensive list. There is a definite need for more information to understand the problem of student debt. But here are some other areas to consider: 

  • Student financial literacy. There are resources available through APTA and educational institutions however what is the literacy level of applicants/students? 

  • Student perception of debt. Is it now the cultural norm to expect that at graduation one will be saddled with a large debt? 

  • Public Education funding through legislature vs Private with endowments. Is it enough? Does society value Higher education? 

  • Costs of overseas clinical education. 

  • Has the transition to a doctoral program been a contributing factor to debt? 

  • Program length. Is a different model a solution? Decreasing undergraduate requirements. 

For further discussion look also to the HUB where more facets of this problem are found in detail. 

So, in conclusion, I invite you to join me and my fellow delegates on this conversational journey with the goal of making a difference and taking a different path than we've taken. President Dunn's path of change! As she says,

“It's the path we take when we embrace the idea that every day deserves our heartfelt best effort-not just to live that day to the fullest but to shape the future more than it shapes us. Because we want to pay it forward. Because we demand that we leave something better than we had for ourselves.” 

I look forward to hearing back from you. 

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