UTC students, faculty, and Chattanooga clinicians recently visited the Tennessee State Capitol for Physical Therapy Day on the Hill, where they met with state legislators and sat in on a session of the House Health Committee.  The event was hosted by the Tennessee Physical Therapy Association (TPTA).

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UTC students with Senator Bo Watson (far left)

All students who attended the event attended an educational program focusing on advocacy, presented by the TPTA. Students learned how to develop professional relationships with elected officials and convey their opinions about bills that may be before the state legislature.

“Once the students leave the educational program, they go with us into the different hearing rooms and discuss the process that occurs when a bill is introduced,” says Dr. Debbie Ingram ‘84, Head of the Department of Physical Therapy, who brought thirty students from her Psychosocial Aspects of Disability class. “We talk about how it is discussed and debated in conferences and committee meetings and then how it gets to a full vote of the state house and the state senate. We typically have a couple of bills that are discussed, processed, and perhaps voted on in the State Legislature. An example might be one that looks at some aspect of the Physical Therapy Practice Act that needs to be expanded or changed.”

Senator Bo Watson ‘83 hosted an event for the UTC students in the senate lounge, where he talked extensively about professionalism.

“The take home message was that when our students enter practice they take on a tremendous responsibility to patients to be informed of issues and to be advocates for our patients,” says Ingram.

UTC PT students also visited the senate chamber, the house chamber, and the governor’s office.

“Many of our students had never been in the state capitol, and none of them had been in the office of an elected official. So we wanted to develop the comfort level of being able to do that,” says Ingram.

Students also met Chancellor Steve Angle and representatives from University Relations and Alumni Affairs, who were participating in UT Day on the Hill, which coincided with PT Day on the Hill.

To make up for class time lost to inclement weather, Ingram had to teach class on the back of the bus on the way to Nashville.

“There isn’t usually much to do on long bus rides. We made good use of the time,” said Ingram.

“Being an advocate is an important part of a PT professional. Experiencing that process as a student will hopefully provide them the skills to do so in the future,” says Ingram.

UTC PT in Las Vegas

The UTC PT Department also attended the 2014 APTA Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) in Las Vegas recently, where six UTC faculty members made peer-reviewed presentations on topics that ranged from cranial remolding in young infants to the influence of gender, age, and ethnicity on the lumbar spine.  Dr. Debbie Ingram also co-taught a course on compliance.

The APTA CSM is an annual three-day conference where physical therapists and physical therapist assistants come together to grow in new knowledge, learn about new products and techniques, and share in clinical experiences and practices.  This year there were 11,331 participants at CSM with representation from 18 different subsections within the physical therapy scope of practice.

Drs. Barry Dale, Nancy Fell, Debbie Ingram, David Levine, Cathie Smith, and Larry Tillman, made presentations in Las Vegas.  Current UTC doctoral students and doctoral graduates who presented their research included Libby English, Heather Nethery, Courtney Williams, Emily Lowndes, Megan Hemmingsen, and Angie Roberts.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to go to CSM this year and present a poster with one of my research advisers, Dr. Tillman,” said Emily Lowndes, a PT doctoral graduate. “What I really enjoyed about being able to present this information at CSM was the conversations held with others who took interest in this topic.  It always seems that the more you seek to find answers in research, the more questions you come up with.  CSM is a wonderful resource to help you find those answers, ask other professionals questions, and see what is on the cusp of up and coming research and literature.”

Since graduation, Lowndes has taken a position in Yakima, Washington, in an outpatient clinic associated with a hospital.

“My newest goal is to help establish a community integration and recreation program for individuals who have suffered any neurological condition,” says Lowndes. “UTC provided me with a wonderful education that allowed me to be competitive with my peers regardless of where I interviewed. The professors at UTC taught me not to just learn something because that was the knowledge placed before me, but rather to ask questions and validate what I saw.  They taught me how to ask important questions and how to seek out the answers.

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