So this last month has been crazy. They all have, but this month felt extra amped up. I feel like they are gradually increasing the intensity of school and I’m constantly expected to keep up. Good news is that they are giving us the skills to keep up with the new, more intense demands. So basically what I am saying is BRING ON THE CRAZY! I’m up for the challenge!
I am basically going to spend this whole post telling you about my APTA NEXT convention experience. So if you’re sitting there confused about what the APTA is or what the NEXT conference is then get ready because I’m going to tell you. The APTA stands for American Physical Therapy Association. It is our professional organization. They advocate on our behalf and help to educate the general public about the benefits of physical therapy. That is a really simplified explanation of who the APTA is, but just know that it is important and you should want to be a part of it. You can visit this website to read more about who the APTA is: http://www.apta.org/Profile/ . The NEXT Conference is the APTA’s annual national conference. There are a bunch of different conferences that are available to attend. You have the main three: CSM, NEXT, and NSC. They are all distinct in what they offer and they are all worth going to at least once. There are more national events that deal with national governance and advocacy which are also worthwhile to attend if you want a deeper view into what the APTA is doing on your behalf.
I know that some of you may have just read that and been bored or that you have heard from other PTs that you have met that joining the APTA is a waste of money and to not do it. I hope that by the end of this you will understand that it is completely worth it and that you should form your own opinions by doing some exploring of what the APTA has to offer for you. I know that for me I just signed up for it because I was told to, but I didn’t understand what it was or what I could benefit from it. I still am learning about it and it is exciting. Let me give you the lowdown on my NEXT experience and segment of the reasons why attending a conference can help you decide if being a part of the APTA is worth it for you.
I volunteered at the conference to help reduce the cost of registration. This was a huge help and still allowed me plenty of time to attend informational sessions. There were many jobs that you could get assigned to, but I was assigned to be a directional. So I was partnered with another student volunteer and helped to assist people in finding the room that their session was in. Another student from the program was assigned to be a Session Chair. His job entailed him to introduce the speaker and to moderate the session. This afforded him the opportunity to meet some of the forward thinking experts in the field. Volunteering was amazing because it allowed us the opportunity to meet other students from all over and get to know them pretty well by being paired with them.
When I wasn’t volunteering I was attending sessions, listening to debates and lectures, and networking. I met so many amazing people at this event and now feel so much more connected with others in this profession. I got to meet the president of the APTA and she was such an endearing and warm person for being so high up in the profession. I now know people that are going to be in Birmingham, AL while I’m doing my first clinical rotation that have offered to help me find a place to live and to meet up while I’m there. This is such a nice thing to have. Living in a new place can be very nerve wracking if you don’t know anyone, but now I have these connections and that brings the stress down. I was also able to learn more about some of the different sections that are available. I’m interested in sports and women’s health and so I was able to attend their booths and find out some very valuable information. I found out that it is possible to attend courses in women’s health while still in school and that there are scholarships available starting in the second year. I don’t think I would have found out this information had it not been for this invaluable experience. I attended meetings held by the Student Assembly which really helped to inspire me to want to come back and get more involved. I highly recommend that you follow them on Twitter or Instagram to see what all that they do. I could write on and on about all that I experienced because it was that impactful of an experience. However, I am going to just leave you all with this: Go to a conference! Volunteer yourself to be a part of something. Even if you don’t know exactly how to do the job, you will grow into it. Don’t let fear stop you from getting the most out of your educational experience as you can.
Hope this inspired at least one person,