Into the Unknown
If you started belting “Into the Unknown” like you are Idina Menzel (Elsa from Frozen) after reading the title, don’t worry you aren’t alone. While for Elsa, the song was in response to a mysterious voice beckoning her into the unknown, perhaps the events of 2020 are calling us and our profession to a similar journey of self-awareness and discovery.
Has anyone ever asked you ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ I think I am pretty safe to say that we have all been asked this question at least once, and that most of us NEVER envisioned 2020 going the way that it has. That being said, as I reflect upon the impact the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement had on this year’s APTA House of Delegates (HOD) meeting, I am reminded that we are a profession that has evolved and thrived on forging into the unknown. We address the necessities of our society by building upon our knowledge and skills, utilizing new technologies, pushing for educational advancement and by traversing into new clinical environments and specializations. Consider how far we have come over the past almost century. We have evolved from being an exclusively female profession of rehabilitation aids helping war veterans and polio patients to now diversifying our membership, expanding our presence in a multitude of practice specializations, achieving doctorate educations, and taking on more practice autonomy, to highlight a few. While we should both celebrate and be humbled by our achievements, let’s not stop here. If we were to ask ourselves ‘where do we see our profession in 10, 50 or even 100 years?’, what do we envision for ourselves? Where do we go from here?
What does it really mean to be a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant? What makes us stand apart as a profession? Why do we invest so much of our time and energy on researching, advocating and providing the best care for each patient? What issues would we unite around and fight for?
Take a moment- I am sure you have come up with at least one fundamental issue that you would want to have changed or improved upon. Maybe it’s the education cost to reimbursement ratio, maybe it’s the burnout from lofty productivity goals and endless documentation, maybe it’s the wish to be an “essential” healthcare worker; whatever “it” is, I challenge all of us to step out from behind our documentation, differing environments and social media feeds to actively question the status quo and start a collective roundtable dialogue, invite all members of our profession to participate. The steps forward for our profession start now. Let’s not just #choosept, but let’s #prioritizept. Let’s start the new century as a unified front with a collective vision as we enter into the unknown.