Leiselle Pilgrim, PT, DPT
I’ve been a fan of the articles in PT Haven since it’s inception and I’m always happy to see the articles written by those whom I’ve also been lucky enough to also call friends. I’ve hoped to one day be among the authors and was driven to do so when I read my friend and colleague Daniel Dale’s most recent installment about Leadership.
I share a similar background with Dan having served on the Student Assembly Board of Directors (SABoD) for two years as the Secretary and then Vice President. I also wholeheartedly agree with him that we as new professionals should step up and take active involvement in our profession and seek out those leadership opportunities available both within the chapters and/or sections. I also stepped up to seek leadership within my own chapter Florida just months post graduation running for Delegate to the House of Delegates and then the Regional Director of my district.
However, unlike Dan I did not share the good fortune of winning those positions. I wanted to share my experience to shed light on the fact that even when you don’t actually hold a position of leadership just stepping up and getting involved can still benefit you.
Having just graduated PT school in New Jersey, I was not just a newbie to the profession but also to the Florida Physical Therapy Association (FPTA). This made walking into my first FPTA Fall Conference as a candidate and an unknown and nerve wracking experience. However, it made it crystal clear why I would continue to step up. During my tenure on the SABoD I met numerous involved students and was lucky to remain friends with many of them. One of these friends would “hold my hand” through my first FPTA conference introducing me to the “who’s who” of Florida and help to calm my nerves as I introduced myself hoping to garner a few more votes. Another friend, who I had once ran against for a position on the SABoD, would become my new professional “partner in crime” attending the events with me. The best part of it all was that even though I hadn’t won, some of the same individuals who I ran against and had looked up to took the time to come up and congratulate me on just taking the step to become involved and offer their mentorship. They also took the added step to get me involved in the Assembly of Representatives (Florida’s version of the House of Delegates) and help me to make my first motion. I’m proud to add to my list of mentors seasoned professionals in my own state who continue to increase my knowledge on advocacy, on clinical practice and on the issues that currently affect our profession. Since then I’ve maintained an active role as an alternate delegate for my Chapter and am a member of the Membership Committee.
You see, getting involved has a priceless value. Not only are you meeting your fellow colleagues and mentors but you’re also challenging yourself to be better, to aim higher, to learn more and to be the best clinician that you can be. I would do it all over again and I challenge each of you to take the step to become ACTIVELY involved. This may take the shape of being a committee member or attending chapter/section meetings but whatever it is you’re guaranteed you reap benefits way beyond your expectations.