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Empowering Advocacy: A Guide for Your First Year of PT School

Welcome, future physical therapists, to the exhilarating journey that is your first year of PT school! As you dive into the world of anatomy, biomechanics, and patient care, there's another crucial aspect of your education that often goes overlooked: advocacy. Yes, you heard that right. In this article, we're going to delve deep into how to advocate in your first year of PT school and why it's a skill you simply can't afford to ignore.

I. Understanding the Role of Advocacy in PT Education

Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of advocacy strategies, let's take a moment to understand why advocacy is so important in the world of physical therapy. You see, as future healthcare professionals, it's our responsibility to not only provide excellent patient care but also to advocate for the needs of our patients and the profession as a whole. And that advocacy journey begins right here, in your first year of PT school.

To grasp the significance of advocacy, it's essential to recognize that advocacy goes beyond just speaking up for what's right—it's about effecting meaningful change. That's why organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) are dedicated to empowering PT students and professionals to become effective advocates for their patients and communities.

II. Advocacy Strategies for First-Year PT Students

Now that we understand the importance of advocacy, let's talk about how to put those advocacy skills into action during your first year of PT school. One of the most effective ways to advocate is through communication. Whether it's speaking up in class discussions, writing letters to policymakers, or engaging with your peers on social media, communication is key to amplifying your voice.

But advocacy isn't just about talking the talk—it's also about walking the walk. That's why organizations like the Physical Therapy Board of California offer valuable resources and support for PT students looking to make a difference in their education and profession. From advocacy toolkits to mentorship programs, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved and make an impact.

III. Navigating Advocacy Challenges in PT School

Of course, advocacy isn't always smooth sailing. As a first-year PT student, you may encounter obstacles along the way, whether it's navigating complex institutional policies or facing resistance from peers or faculty. But fear not, because with perseverance and determination, you can overcome these challenges and become a powerful advocate for change.

Remember, advocacy is a journey, not a destination. It's okay to stumble along the way, as long as you keep moving forward. And don't be afraid to reach out for support when you need it. Organizations like the Foundation for Physical Therapy offer fellowship programs and other resources to help you hone your advocacy skills and make a difference in your first year of PT school and beyond.

Conclusion: Your Voice Matters

In conclusion, advocacy is not just a buzzword—it's a fundamental aspect of your education and profession as a future physical therapist. By embracing your voice and advocating for what you believe in, you have the power to shape the future of PT education and healthcare. So, don't be afraid to speak up, stand up, and make your voice heard. After all, the world needs more advocates like you.

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About Sebastian Stoltzfus

Sebastian Stoltzfus
I'm an ICU physical therapist practicing in Dallas, Texas. I love reading, lifting, hunting and the Pacific coast of Mexico.


  1. Clinton Boone

    Awesome article Seb! Thanks for all the info.

  2. Sebastian Stoltzfus

    Thank you Clinton. I hope it is helpful for all my colleagues out there.

  3. Katie Franklin

    Thanks for the article! Pending successful completion of the NPTE, I’ll be starting out as an ICU/acute care therapist in August. I’m so excited to be part of a mobility-friendly facility — I’ve seen the other side of the aisle as a student on rotation, and the overall QOC provided to those patients is vastly different. Way to encourage mobility advocacy!

  4. Sebastian Stoltzfus

    Thanks for your comment Katie. The ICU can be an inspiring place to work. I also know the other side of the coin exists where patients are pretty much chained to their bed. No matter where you end up, I hope you’ll keep fighting the good fight. Take care

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