Last week, Jacob Melnick wrote on APTA membership and he posed some good questions that got me thinking. Most of us reading this blog will say that membership within the APTA is key and I would agree. Being a member as a student is often advocated by professors in DPT and PTA programs (as it should), however many students upon graduating seem to not renew their membership due to various reasons. This was out of the question for me after graduating and leads me to my topic for this post. I was lucky enough to be on the Student Assembly Board of Directors some years ago as a student. It was one of the most exciting, challenging and fun positions I have had. The Student Assembly represents all student members and really advocates for involvement within the APTA. If you are a student who is reading this, please consider getting involved with the Student Assembly. Consider running for a position on the Board of Directors. Consider getting involved in The Loop. Consider becoming a Core Ambassador. To help spell out why getting involved as a student is important, I am listing 5 reasons why my engagement was instrumental when I was a new grad.
- I had a purpose beyond getting my DPT. As a student, my main focus was, of course, to gain my DPT. I actually wasn’t specifically looking to get involved in the Student Assembly because I was afraid it would take away from my focus on school. If it weren’t for two students in the class above me, I would have never ran for a position. I owe a lot to those students for seeing something more in me, for urging me to get more involved. After getting on the Board, I was introduced to all that the APTA was involved with. I met all the folks working behind the scenes. I got involved with projects that worked to benefit the student members of the APTA. It truly gave me a purpose beyond just getting a DPT–one that has stuck with me in the years since graduating.
- You get to meet the movers and shakers of the PT world. Being on the Board allowed me to attend the major national APTA meetings. As a student this was an amazing opportunity. Being able to meet the folks who were changing the face of PT was truly inspiring. Seeing how humble and devoted to the profession they were has only inspired me to walk in their footsteps.
- You get to work with amazing people–many of whom will be close friends for years to come. Being involved in leadership positions within the Student Assembly allowed me to interact with some excellent fellow students. There is no better way to get pumped up about a profession than working with students ready to make changes and are excited to enter the profession! The amazing thing is that many of my friends who I met and worked with have remained close and have gone on to do great things.
- Being involved help confirm my 5-year career plans. By having a fire lit within me through my interactions with fellow leaders (student and professional), I knew that post-professional training was the direction for me. This may seem weird as this is not what many may say they wanted to get out of being involved in the Student Assembly, but I had a purpose and saw the need to continue to better the profession by focusing my post-professional training early on in my career. The key piece was that I was able to meet many PTs who were involved in different programs or had post-professional training at their company/facility. Being exposed to this allowed me to develop some key relationships to help foster my early growth as a PT.
- Networking. You will network with PTs, educators, APTA staff, and most importantly, other PT and PTA students. This is truly invaluable.
If you are at all interested in running for a position for the Student Assembly Board of Directors, applications are due for the slate of candidates on July 1st. If not in these positions, please check out some of the other opportunities within the Student Assembly. APTA membership will always be something that we are looking to increase and it starts with our PT and PTA students. I charge that if we give students a purpose beyond their degree and the APTA (including its Components) continue to foster that purpose, students will convert to new grad APTA members.
These are just my top 5 thoughts on why being involved with the Student Assembly was key for me. Don’t take my word for it, reach out to others who have been involved to some degree. So, for those out there who were involved in student leadership positions–what were your top take-aways? For students involved now, what are you getting out of it?