Sep 18, 2015

National Academies of Practice: Physical Therapy Spotlight


By: Andrea Pfeifle, EdD, PT, FNAP, Susan Tappert, PT, DPT, FNAP, and Irma Ruebling, MA, PT, FNAP on behalf of the members of PTNAP

The physical therapy profession has evolved from a long tradition of interprofessional teamwork focused on the rehabilitation of patients with physical impairments and disabilities.  Hence, collaborative teamwork is a natural and essential part of the deep professional identity of physical therapists.   We are very excited to have established a Physical Therapy (PT) Academy in the National Academies of Practice (NAP) and we are still continuing our journey.

The American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) vision for the profession states: “Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Movement is viewed as key to everyone’s ability to function as independently as possible. The movement system is foundational to the core knowledge and responsibility of physical therapists for optimizing the health of society. Physical therapists use distinctive knowledge and skills when evaluating individuals and contribute to an integrated plan of care for the best health outcome. Fully meeting this vision requires collaboration with other professions towards the goal of maximizing patient function and optimization of movement through the integration of the expertise across professions for the best patient outcomes. The APTA has further developed Guiding Principles for supporting this vision that include “collaboration”. Collaboration is a guiding principle for our work and commits physical therapists to actively value “collaboration with other health care providers, consumers, community organizations, and other disciplines to solve the health-related challenges that society faces.”

The Commission for Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) recently revised accreditation standards for physical therapy education programs and now requires education of students for interprofessional practice.  This demonstrates the profession’s commitment to the central value of collaboration as an essential skill for becoming collaboration-ready practitioners.

Working together NAP provides opportunities to learn about, from, and with others for greater assurance that all health professionals function at the highest limits of their practice in optimizing the quality of life for all. Our formal association with NAP began when two physical therapists spoke with the Dr. David Itzkoff, NAP Bylaws Chair, at that time. When NAP decided to launch 4 new academies – Audiology, Speech and Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy – Barbara Maxwell and Jody Frost gladly took the lead to develop the new PT Academy; identifying seven physical therapist candidates as inaugural members who were working as advocates for interprofessional practice and education (IPE).

New member candidates formed a task force to develop the foundation of the PT Academy. So as not to reinvent the wheel, the Task Force reviewed bylaws from other NAP academies; ultimately selecting the Optometry bylaws on which to base the PT bylaws. One member volunteered to put the Optometry bylaws into a table format that had a column for Task Force members to make comments relative to intent and purpose of the PT academy. By the time Task Force members were inducted into NAP, our bylaws and organizational structure were defined. After an exciting inauguration into NAP at the 2014 Annual Meeting and Forum, we elected officers and appointed an executive board. We also discussed the importance of actively participating on each of the NAP committees and so each new member volunteered for at least one committee. The PT Academy meets monthly or as needed via telephone conferencing. Through this mechanism we monitor our participation in NAP and encourage new member engagement at multiple levels. The NAP PT Academy is flourishing. We now have 19 members who together represent a broad range of diversity in specialties, backgrounds, and interests.

As mentioned, physical therapists are expert human movement specialists. Our growth as a profession is directed toward increasing impact and focus on overall health and wellness. We recognize that interprofessional collaboration is essential to the successful achievement of our shared vision to transform society by improving the human experience. We look forward to working across NAP to transform health care and develop innovative methods that advance individual and community health outcomes as described by the Triple Aim of better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower per capita costs.


NAP Times newsletters are now archived online. The previous four issues will be available on the website. For anyone interested in a copy of an older newsletter, please email info@napractice.orgTo contribute member news or interprofessional events or activities to NAP Times, please submit to Copyright 2015 National Academies of Prractice|

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