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Getting Your Feet Wet Early

11/16/2013, 2:15pm EST
By Daniel Dale, PT, DPT

Chapter Leadership

Looking back on my rather short career to this point, I can think of certain turning points that have really helped to mold my career thus far. I can think of my time as Student Assembly President, allowing me the opportunity to interact and rub shoulders with students and APTA leaders alike on such a large stage. I can think of my time as a clinician in my workplace, developing projects and lectures for new hires and established colleagues. However, I still honestly believe that one of the best decisions I have made in my young career was the decision to get involved with chapter leadership opportunities within the APTA.

                Immediately out of school, I made the decision to run for the position of Recording Secretary for the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia. A short five months later, I was elected, and have served in that position ever since. Was I the most qualified candidate? Am I the best, most attentive writer the state of Georgia has ever seen? Am I able to keep detailed notes better than anyone else in this chapter? The answer is no, to all questions. However, this position is about more than just details. I have found that it’s the “details” that keep many new professionals from running for positions within chapter leadership. Allow me to explain further.

                Many new professionals have expressed interests in running for positions of leadership, but express some fear. When approached with the idea of chapter leadership, I’m usually given some of the following responses:

{C}·         “I’m not experienced enough” (President/Vice President)

{C}·         “I know nothing about note-taking/Roberts’ Rules of Order” (Secretary)

{C}·         “I can’t even budget my own money!” (Treasurer)

However, I’ve learned a lot over the past few years to help ease these thoughts. The biggest buzzword that floats around our profession is the M word…mentorship. Besides the clinic setting, there is no better place to find mentorship than in your own chapter. You work under the same rules and laws as your fellow colleagues, you experience similar ups and downs in regards to payment and policy, and you hopefully see these mentors at local gatherings and chapter meetings for face to face interactions.

When I ran for secretary, I knew about Robert and his rules. By this, I mean I knew that I tried to avoid them at all costs. However, when I moved into the position of secretary, I was educated and mentored by my predecessor on the things I needed to know. The position itself was never daunting or challenging—I could figure my way through policy and procedure of the position. The challenge I got was to my leadership skills and my professional development. It was one of the most welcoming challenges I have ever had, as the position of secretary forced me to research and understand state policy and payment issues. It forced me to understand how our state budget worked so that I could help make decisions representing all PTs and PTAs in Georgia. Lastly, it challenged me to think of a position as so much more, allowing myself to be engaged at another level of professionalism. Because of that, I continue to encourage and challenge new professionals to find their niche in chapter leadership. 

Tag(s): Physical Therapy Pulse  All Articles  Daniel Dale, DPT