Three years after being elected President of the American Physical Therapy Association, Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD, stood before the House of Delegates and delivered an invigorating address to the body of electorates who first voted her into leadership back in 2015. At the heart of her message was a repeated and compelling charge to act as she emphasized that it is not enough to call out inadequacies in the system, or to idly tweet about embracing change or promoting inclusion. No, she reiterated that as a profession we must band together and work collaboratively to secure the future of our profession.
“The members of the American Physical Therapy Association were bold enough to dream of transforming society,” she reminded, “Now we must deliver on that promise by following the most universal piece of advice we provide to our patients and clients: we must move!”
Memorable Quotes from President Dunn’s speech are highlighted below:
SETTING A NEW TONE FOR THE FUTURE
“Most of us in this room wear those battle scars—and quite proudly. But where our past was shaped with sharp elbows, our future must be shaped with open arms. Where our origins situated our profession in recovery and the treatment of disorder, our future will be characterized by an increased role in sustaining health and proactively preventing disability and disease. And where previously we have demanded respect in part by staking out turf and occasionally pointing to the shortcomings of others, in our future we will demonstrate our value based on the irrefutable data of our own outcomes and in partnership with our colleagues across disciplines. The health care system and our patients will demand nothing less."
QUESTING OVER RESTING
“We should approach our future with enthusiasm, not dread, because our profession has never been satisfied with our position within the status quo. Our existence has been one of almost constant self-challenging evolution. Our progress has never been inevitable; it has always been hard-earned. So if we truly desire to not only see society transformed but to shape that transformation, we must not only weather the storm of health care disruption. Instead, as Dr Alan Jette urged in his 2012 Mary McMillan Lecture, we must face into the storm and choose questing over resting.
WE MUST BE AGENTS, NOT CRITICS
"We cannot transform society through judgment. Our vision charges us not to stand at a distance and point our fingers at our nation's ills but instead to accept a personal responsibility to try to make a difference.
"At our core, we are healers, and as much as ever our country and our society need healing. It is not enough that we tweet about it in judgment. It is not enough that we adopt policies that articulate our principles. It is not enough that we sit idly by, in the comforts that were afforded by those who forged the path before us.
LET NO ONE FEEL LIKE AN OUTSIDER
"To fulfill our mission, our community must vastly improve our diversity by being intentional about inclusion. We must prioritize listening and learning. We must enable the next generation of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to transform our association, just as our association must transform society. Most of all we must get involved—with open arms and open minds—not only as a community, but as individuals."
OUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET: AN ENGAGED MEMBER
"When we formally charge APTA to act, or simply daydream about "what APTA should do...," we sometimes behave as if we're writing a check for someone else to cash. But as an individual membership association, we are charging ourselves-we are writing our own to-do list. APTA is not a distant factory that churns out ready-to-order physical therapy progress on a conveyor belt. It's a community of physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students. It's our community. We are APTA, and APTA is us. Our association's growth, commitment, and determination cannot outpace our own personal development."
FOLLOW OUR DREAMS WITH OUR OWN FOOTSTEPS
"If, like I do, you anticipate a day when physical therapists, like dentists, are part of our society's regular health routines, don't just point the way—raise a hand and accept a portion of responsibility to take us there.
APTA President Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD, Board-Certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist, was reelected to a second 3-year term, June 25, 2018. To read the full transcript of her 2018 address, or to watch the video, visit the APTA website.