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The House of Delegates: Policy and the Profession

06/01/2013, 2:45pm EDT
By Daniel Dale, PT, DPT

Ideas and Action

Daniel Dale, PT, DPT

Daniel Dale, PT, DPT

The American Physical Therapy Association is an amazingly intricate, hard-working body of individuals who work tirelessly to support and grow the profession of physical therapy every day. However, have you ever stopped to wonder how the profession makes policy decisions and directs the action of the profession? Look no further, and allow me to introduce you to the House of Delegates.

The House of Delegates is an APTA policy-making body comprised of voting chapter delegates, the Board of Directors, and non-voting section, assembly, and PTA Caucus delegates, and consultants. The House of Delegates generally meets just prior to Annual Conference for three days, during which time delegates make decisions on issues that may have far-reaching implications for the Association and for the profession of physical therapy.

Each year, the House of Delegates is faced with far-reaching issues that they will debate and then vote on to help direct the policy of the profession. During the House of Delegates, delegates will also vote to elect our leaders to the APTA Board of Directors. Motions for changes in policy can be crafted by anyone, but are brought forward by elected delegates or the Board of Directors at the House of Delegates.

This year, there are many issues coming before the House of Delegates that will affect our profession for the years to come. One of the most interesting motions focuses on creating a new Vision Statement for the APTA. Vision 2020 is nearing completion, and the profession has been hard at work at creating a new Vision Statement to guide the profession in the years to come. This House of Delegates will vote on whether to keep the new Vision Statement as developed by the Vision task force, which reads “The physical therapy profession will transform society by optimizing movement for all people of all ages to improve the human experience.” The House will debate this motion and make amendments if felt they are needed, before voting on whether to accept or reject this motion.

This process will occur for all 30 motions being brought to the House this year. Other motions to be debated include changing terminology commonly used when concluding care with a patient, improving public policy efforts for public access the physical therapy, creating a plan to outline the role of physical therapy in health management for people with chronic disability, and exploring the idea of physical therapists as authorized prescribers of durable medical equipment, among many others.

The APTA has made information available to all individuals about the motions at the House of Delegates this year. Check out to learn more about the House in general, and about the motions being presented. I encourage you to learn more about these motions and contact your Chapter and Section delegates to voice your thoughts and concerns, as you have the power to direct your delegates on how to vote. We are elected to serve the profession and you, so make your voice heard today! 

Daniel is a 2011 graduate of Armstrong Atlantic State University and a past President of the APTA Student Assembly. Daniel currently works for the Shepherd Center, a model spinal cord injury and acquired brain injury center in Atlanta, Georgia. He currently serves as the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia's Recording Secretary, and is serving his second consecutive term as a Delegate to the APTA's House of Delegates for the Georgia Chapter.

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