MPTA 2017 Lobby Day will be held on Tuesday, February 28th.
Whether you are in PT or PTA school, a new grad physical therapist or assistant, or a physical therapy professional of many years, we all must understand the importance of grassroots advocacy. Every year in Jefferson City the profession of physical therapy is challenged by other professional organizations. In the past these other organizations included physicians, chiropractors and athletic trainers. Legislation is frequently being pushed to infringe upon the autonomy of the physical therapist.
Effective grassroots advocacy is all about building a relationship with your elected Missouri Senator and Representative. Like any relationship, you will need to make an initial contact with your state legislator. This initial contact can occur either in the home office or the Jefferson City office of your elected official. A great time to make the initial contact is during the annual MPTA Lobby Day, held the fourth Tuesday of every February.
Once you have your initial meeting set up with your legislator, you then need to work on a short outline of items you want to discuss. Your time, especially when the legislative session is occurring (January-May), will more than likely be brief. If you are uncertain what to discuss, call the MPTA state office and they will advise you on current legislative issues that pertain to physical therapy. Once you meet with your legislator remember that this is your elected official, you are their constituent, and they want to keep you a happy constituent. No need to be nervous talking with your legislator, they work for you!
After this initial meeting, you then need to be consistent and tenacious in further developing the relationship with your legislator. Yes, they want to keep you happy. However, you are the one that will have to work hard to keep the relationship growing. Attending fund raisers, phone calls to discuss issues, sending emails, or just a thank you to your state legislator will go a long way towards developing your legislator-constituent relationship.
Every PT, PTA, and PT/PTA student has the opportunity to and capability of developing close working relationships with those who pass the laws that define how physical therapy is practiced-and that it is the responsibility of every practitioner to speak out for patients and the profession. A committed individual truly can make a difference on the issues that face physical therapy today and will face the profession in the future. Just like any relationship, your relationship with your legislator will take effort on your part. The effort will be more than worth it as your voice will then impact the future viewpoint of your legislator on the field of physical therapy.