I am writing today to share more about what I gained than the actual events that took place during APTA’s Centennial Celebration and House of Delegates (HOD) 2021. As a new member to APTA Hawaii Chapter and first-time active participant in APTA since graduating PT school in 2012, I was honored to have the mentorship of two experienced delegates, Jeremy Angaran and Doug White, to serve as second delegate during this monumental time for APTA’s Centennial year. Additionally, I was able to sit next to Art Lum (clinician and clinic owner for more than 30 years on Oahu) to advocate for the healthcare needs and resources for the people of Hawaii during Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill. To say the least, the experience was another moment of growth personally and professionally.
In all honesty, I had no idea what I was volunteering my time for because my focus has always been on the day-to-day requirements of the clinician and patient needs. Provided that September 6, 2021 was the one year anniversary of seeing my first patient as a sole practitioner and private practice clinic owner in Molokai Hawaii, participation at the APTA Centennial events were monumental for our profession and a perfect reminder of the day-to-day work that we do for our communities.
Prior to the pandemic, even dating back to being a physical therapy student at University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, I have recognized some of the major concerns we face, which include but are not limited to the challenges of (1) early, direct access to quality care for the community, (2) concerns of reimbursement to maintain business practices, (3) social inequities as expressed by clinicians, patients and community members, (4) predicaments of student loan repayment for clinicians that want to serve the needs of our community and (5) prevention of burnout to healthcare professionals. My participation in the HOD and advocacy day on Capitol Hill allowed me to see the importance of stepping away from our daily responsibilities by taking the time to reflect, collaborate and speak up about the needs of our community and the well-being of clinicians.
As to be expected for a new delegate, the preparation for the House of Delegate meeting was daunting for me, because all of a sudden the messages from the HUB were pouring into my inbox as if the flow of emails were meant to put out a raging fire. I did not know how to filter through the messages or understand the message intentions. Having the mentorship from Jeremy prior to the virtual HOD meeting on August 28 helped me validate the feelings I was having but he encouraged me to take it one moment at a time. The virtual meeting helped me to understand the process and be exposed to a few of the motions being presented while allowing me to stay in “my own bubble” of comfort as I learned what all of this meant for me as a clinician and our profession as a whole. As we closed out the virtual HOD meeting, Jeremy and I huddled together on a virtual call to figure out how to represent APTA Hawaii provided that his work demands due to Covid-19 placed him in a position to no longer travel to Washington, DC for the in-person meeting. This is when Jeremy requested Doug White, PT, DPT, (more than 30 years of clinical and delegate experience that was awarded a 2021 Lucy Blair award) to sit in as an alternate. Between the mentorship and guidance of both Jeremy and Doug, I learned so much more about the role that the delegates play in our profession and for the community members that we treat.
As I was able to engage and learn more, I felt naive and oblivious to what APTA truly did for us as clinicians, our profession and the people that we serve in our clinics, hospitals, homes, schools, etc. Openly sharing this sentiment with Doug and his wife during dinner on 9/11 in DC, I found myself at a new turning point to want to continue what APTA has been doing for 100 years.
To share a personal story, due to having seizures as a child and when I became an “adult” that was losing my parent’s medical insurance, I was denied medical insurance. I asked my mom for advice and she told me that I needed to talk to my congressman and get a job that has benefits. As a young adult, this made no sense to me. So, Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill was another moment of growth. As I hear more about the challenges that we have as patients or as clinicians, I understand why it is important to speak up about our needs.
I was pleasantly surprised to sit next to Art Lum, PT from Oahu in order to advocate for Hawaii. We were able to share the significance of the Medicare cuts, which also included cuts to PTA reimbursement, PTs and PTAs as telehealth providers under Medicare, as well as student loan repayment for rural clinicians, and grants to help support diversity in our profession. Being a clinician in Molokai, these truly hit home for me and made this task to ask for support a simple yet passionate request. Provided the “new normal” of virtual meetings, there was comfort in being able to communicate from the hotel in DC to the advisory of Congress. This forum to communicate allowed us to recognize that they are just a video call or email away, even if we have a time difference upon returning to Hawaii.
The serendipitous events that have led me to not only become a member of APTA again but serve as second delegate for the Hawaii Chapter is an honor and privilege. I recognize that growth occurs when we start to collaborate and use our energy to serve the greater good of our people. One of the many quotes from the centennial events that have stuck in my mind is one said by APTA President Sharon Dunn, “If you want to get somewhere fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I will finalize my writing by stating that I have felt that I was swimming alone. I realized that while swimming, the big wall that I swam into was not a dam, it was the hull of a boat that has lots of encouraging and devoted people to guide and support one another. As a member of the APTA Hawaii Chapter, let us unite and support one another so that we can each serve our communities better and improve the health of Hawaii.
APTA Hawaii Delegate
Posted on October 5, 2021 by Chapter Staff
Originally Published in APTA Hawaii’s Monthly e-Newsletter – October 2021