Should Physical Therapists Join the APTA? Membership Considerations and Tips

Considering whether to join the APTA? Get advice on the benefits, lobbying power, and career support you can expect from membership.
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Have you been thinking about whether to join the APTA but need to decide if it’s right for you? 

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is one of the nation’s most prominent physical therapy organizations. They offer valuable resources to help therapists excel in their field. Members can access professional resources, discounts, continuing education courses, and more. But is it right for you?

Let’s find out. 

Advocating for the Profession

The APTA’s core mission is “Building a community that advances the profession of physical therapy to improve the health of society.” This includes fighting for legislative, regulatory, and payment reform through lobbying and grassroots efforts.

"What we do the most of is advocacy. And that's both at the federal and in collaboration with our state chapters at the state level."

As Justin explains in a recent episode of the Therapy Matters podcast, the number one policy priority is creating a stable payment environment for PT clinics by increasing Medicare rates, with a long-term goal of replacing annual physician fee schedule cuts with economic inflationary index legislation. APTA advocates also focus on reducing the administrative burden of prior authorizations. 

The organization also supports advances in digital health technologies and virtual tools that help therapists deliver the best possible patient care. Members have access to the APTA Digital Health App Formulary, powered by ORCHA, “a single source for choosing among quality-assured digital health tools to use and recommend to your patients and clients.” 

APTA’s efforts have earned much national recognition through the years. Most recently, the American Society of Association Executives honored them with the 2023 Power of Associations Silver Award.

Members of APTA can help create positive change by connecting with advocacy efforts including:

  • Joining a council or state chapter.
  • Volunteering via APTA Engage.
  • Engaging with the House of Delegates.
  • Connecting with the APTA Advocacy Network.
  • Donating to PTPAC and the PT fund.

Maximize the Value of Membership: Discounts and Special Offers

When you make sure to take advantage of all the savings and special offers available to APTA members, membership dues can provide a lot of value in return. In fact, new grad and early-career PTs and PTAs get the most bang for their buck with an APTA membership. The Early Career Dues Discount offers student members a 50% discount on dues post-graduation. They can also access free financial coaching and student loan help through FitBUX. 

APTA membership benefits include promotions for:

  • Continuing Education Unit (CEU) courses
  • APTA Learning Center
  • Combined Section Meetings
  • Specialist Certification
  • Products in the APTA store

Members also save on national brands such as:

  • MedBridge
  • Saucony
  • New Balance
  • ODP Business Solutions
  • Dell Technology Solutions
  • GE Appliances

Professional Development and Continued Education 

Members get abundant professional resources to keep up-to-date on the latest field research, including full access to the EBSCO host, the Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal, and the Rehabilitation Reference Center. In addition to discounted CEUs, the APTA Learning Center provides free classes for physical therapy education and career advancement. 

APTA also strives to help members advance in their careers. Access job opportunities at the career center and create a profile on the Find a PT directory to drive traffic to your practice. PTs can get board certification in ten specialty areas, such as orthopedics, women’s health, and sports. They also have Advanced Proficiency Pathways for PTA and a Fellowship in Education Leadership for educators. 

With these benefits, savings, and continued education opportunities, an APTA membership can really pay off.

Alternatives to Joining the APTA

Nevertheless, membership fees can be a financial barrier (student loans are no joke). So, what do you do when you still want to get involved in the future of the profession?

Being a member of nationwide professional organizations is a great way to network with peers and effect change in the industry. Still, there are other ways to stay on top of the latest conversations in the profession. 

  • Donate directly to PTPAC and the PT Fund.
  • Seek out mentorship opportunities in the industry.
  • Connect with your alma mater or local universities.
  • Open your practice to students.
  • Attend physical therapy and rehabilitation events like TherapyCon.
  • Monitor and comment on legislation at the Patient Action Center.
  • Join state-based physical therapy organizations.

Some may feel like a drop in the bucket of a large, national organization like APTA. For those who want to do more than join APTA and add a line to their resume, consider focusing your involvement in one of the many active local chapters. You can find PT associations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This is a great way to amplify your voice and contributions. 

Find Your State's Physical Therapy Association

To Join or Not to Join the APTA

Physical therapy organizations like the APTA have definite benefits that can enhance your PT career. Not only are you helping to drive real change in the legislation regulating our industry, but you also get opportunities for physical therapy professional development to better PT and better serve your patients.

Key benefits of joining the APTA include:

  • Advocacy for positive change
  • Industry-specific offers and discounts
  • Professional development 
  • Continuing education courses

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. But just understand that the benefits often more than outweigh the membership costs. As Justin Moore said, “If you’re not a member, consider joining this community. People who are involved will tell you: You get more out of it the more you put in it.”

Hear more insight from Justin on Therapy Matters podcast Episode 8: The Biggest Issues Facing Physical Therapy Practices Today.

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