Learning about the research taking place in physical therapy, what the needs are in health policy and making connections from all over the country are just a few things Jean Weaver, assistant professor and director of clinical education in physical therapy, has been up to through her involvement on the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Health Policy and Administration Research Committee.
APTA members have the opportunity to join one of 18 special-interest sections that provide members resources to connect and remain up-to-date in their area of expertise. Weaver is a member of the Health Policy and Administration section which strives to develop leaders within the profession and advocate for initiatives regarding health policy and the administration of professional physical therapy practice.
Weaver’s involvement on the research committee began after she and a colleague received a grant from the section to conduct research on safe patient handling and equipment in 2014.
“Health policy is an area I’ve always had an interest in because policy and legislation impacts the physical therapy practice,” said Weaver. “It’s important for you to be involved when something is going to impact your practice negatively or positively.”
Weaver and her colleague analyzed the policies on safe patient handling in the states of California, Oregon and Washington in their research.
“Safe patient handling and moving equipment is all about health care providers not injuring themselves as they move or transfer patients,” said Weaver. “We were looking to see if there was a difference in physical therapists’ usage of equipment based on policy.”
The research was published last year. Weaver recently took over as chair of the research committee.
Recipients of the grant give back by serving on the section’s research committee for three years. In the third year, the recipient chairs the committee. The committee provides peer review, reviews abstracts submitted for presentation at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting and selects the recipient of the grant of up to $15,000 after assessing proposals each year.
“If you write a grant proposal at a high level of research, then they know you’re capable of providing peer review and reviewing manuscript for publication,” said Weaver. “The committee looks for proposals that will provide in-depth research and connect to the current physical therapy practice.”
Weaver is able to provide students at UF with valuable connections and purposeful research topics because of her involvement. She feels that involvement in APTA can broaden the perspectives of those practicing in physical therapy.
“When we talk to our students about professionalism, we encourage them to be involved and interact in our professional organization, APTA,” said Weaver. “I hope that students here today and graduating pursue professional involvement across their career because it will only provide depth and breadth to what they do to help their patients.”