Let’s just get this out of the way-I am freak. In middle school I spent my summers at Volunteer Camp; all throughout high school, I raised money for the local youth shelter with my friends. In college I raised awareness on public health issues and helped get cigarettes banned from campus. After college, in what has been described as, “the most Portlandian Lifestyle I’ve ever heard,” I volunteered in the oncology department at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital the mornings after bartending the Heavy Metal Bowling League. The point is, I like to get out into the community and try to make it better. Now that I am almost a year into physical therapy school, I am seeing that this profession should be no different.
Exercise is the best medicine. We all know this fact. So why are we not seeing patients until they come into the clinic? Why are physical therapists touting they are, “experts of movement and exercise,” to just their clients and not the masses? I propose that physical therapists should be the new public health experts in today’s healthcare. We can no longer just tell people that exercise is good for them, we have to get out there and show them.
Anyone remember RX for Survival? This PBS documentary series is flat out fantastic and anyone worth their salt working in the public health field should go watch it immediately. One story was about a group of hippie studs in 1967 traveling into the most remote parts of the world to deliver the smallpox vaccine.
These baddasses combed the world to eradicate a disease that affected millions of lives. We should be the new public health badasses! It is time to stop playing defense and start attacking the health problems we have in our communities. If we have the answers and the knowledge then we sure as hell have the obligation to ensure the physical well being of our own backyards.
But enough yammering-what are the actionables? As a student, I am co-directing our Move Forward 5K/10K geared towards getting our community to get moving and learn a little about how to stay healthy. It will be a
MOTHER FUCKING POWERHOUSE OF PUBLIC HEALTH AWARENESS! Along with that, our school is putting on a couch to 5K program for first time runners. I am also revamping my 101 blog series aimed to get basic knowledge on nutrition and human physiology to those who want to learn. Global PT Day of Service is also coming around the corner and I am already planning how Regis University's School of Physical Therapy will get involved. I also am trying to develop a framework in which private clinics can easily start their own public health programs (see above).
The point is physical therapists have the expertise to attack today's biggest health challenges and we need to stop treating these diseases as co-morbidities in the clinic. I am doing what I can as a student. What are you doing?