Physical therapists are vital in elevating important issues to the forefronts of legislative agendas – and are the key link in educating Georgia’s legislature about critical problems facing their profession.
The reconvening of the Georgia General Assembly offers the perfect opportunity to bring to light issues that directly affect physical therapists and their patients – including the push for more access – making it more important than ever to become actively involved in advocating for your profession.
The first step
Whether it’s a letter to your state senator or hosting an informative forum, taking the first step is always the hardest.
But understanding how to utilize available resources can make it a lot easier.
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) provides a number of services to assist state chapters and their members in reaching their legislative goals. APTA can track and analyze state legislation, as well as assist with grassroots movements and formulate legislative strategies.
Physical therapists can also contact their elected officials.
Through the Georgia General Assembly’s homepage, you can obtain a list of your district’s representatives and visit their individual pages for email addresses, phone numbers and mailing addresses.
A similar service is offered on the Georgia State Senate website.
These services are extremely useful in ensuring your message reaches the right person.
Email and call your legislators to inform them that you are a constituent and need their action.
When contacting your local representatives, make sure to personalize your message. Let them know how these changes will affect you, your practice, and most importantly, your patients.
By personalizing your message, representatives are informed of the problem – and the overall situation.
Keep in mind, however, that electronic communications and letters can be overwhelming, as public figures may receive hundreds on a weekly basis. As a result, face-to-face meetings can be even more effective to discuss the effects of the issues that face the profession.
Find out when your representatives will be at their local offices and request a meeting. Ask to speak with the person who schedules in-district meetings, and submit a request in writing.
If you do schedule a meeting, make sure you are prepared. Utilize resources provided by APTA and PTAG to stay up-to-date on the most current legislative issues – and continue to stay informed.
The more emails, calls, and meetings your representatives receive and/or schedule, the more likely they are to take notice of a particular issue. Be sure to encourage your patients to take action and provide them with easy access to educational resources and template emails/letters through the APTA, Patient Action Center.
Your profession needs your voice.