My Experience at the Leadership Conference as a Student Representative to the APTA National Student Council by Kali Hall
Upon arrival in Washington D.C. I did not know what to expect, little did I know this event would alter my view of my professional career forever. Being surrounded by so much of our country's history I was able to reflect on how impactful the power of speech was in eliciting change.
I was encouraged that this event would be impactful to the future of physical therapy and could not have been more excited to play a part in that. Taking action towards something that meant so much to me as a SPTA felt invigorating and left me with a hopeful sense that if nothing else I would learn more about what it meant to be an advocate. Within the first five hours of being in Washington D.C., I was able to go to an open house at the APTA Centennial Center which allowed me to meet many professionals associated with APTA. My chapter president, Edward Mathis was incredibly helpful throughout this trip. He took it upon himself to introduce me to board members, professionals from a plethora of states, individuals who work in areas of my interest such as those involved in acute care, and many more. I was able to network with other students in my position as well as clinicians who are currently working within their states from all over the country. During this time of networking, I was able to engage in conversations regarding other committees I could join, student groups that were directly applicable to my current studies, as well as learning about job opportunities on the other side of the country. This was one of the most beneficial events in my student career thus far.
The time following this event was with the other students who represented other states. Each night the students were able to engage in social gatherings that allowed us to speak about board exams, clinical settings we enjoyed, testing tips, and residency opportunities. This time I found it to be helpful because it allowed me to learn about new avenues I could take as a student and other ways I could create change within my community.
The next evening, I was able to go to a Keynote Address. As a young student just starting my career, it was very interesting. The speaker addressed growth, both personally and professionally. He stated that to grow, we must continue a cycle of exploring new ideas and then exploiting one of the things we learned in the exploration phase. This struck me; I could apply much of this thought process to my personal and professional career. I have been applying this concept to much of my schooling since the keynote. I am currently exploring different therapy settings and deciding which setting I would like to explore and focus on.
The following day I was able to attend a Student Development Programming. I enjoyed this event because it allowed the student representatives to meet, interact, and begin to form connections. During this event, we learned about the House of Delegates, which included topics such as what the House of Delegates was, what a motion is and how a motion is passed, who gets to speak for each state, and much more. We were allotted time to view the House of Delegates debate on motions wanting to be passed. I felt that my eyes were opened to an important part of the physical therapy profession: advocacy. I was interested to see that after a motion was proposed individuals representing states were able to speak their opinion on the motion and give feedback to the House. Students were allowed to speak at that time, and it encouraged me that my voice does matter and advocacy could truly impact the profession that we all love.
Overall, this experience was one I would recommend to all students. This was something that helped me to build connections with clinicians and students nationwide, understand why my voice matters, and how to intentionally use my voice to promote a positive change. I will forever be grateful to the Michigan APTA chapter for supporting and encouraging me to take part in this fantastic opportunity.
My name is Kali Hall, I am a student at Baker College of Muskegon in the PTA program. I am my cohort's "class officer", the student state representative of Michigan, and a committee member of Michigan's PTA Engagement Committee. I have worked for the last six years at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital as a Rehab Tech on the spinal cord injury unit. After graduation, I hope to work in an acute care setting with neuro patients.