Emma Stokes pictured during the WCPT General Meeting in Singapore in April
Emma Stokes pictured during the WCPT General Meeting in Singapore in April

How we can fulfil the potential of our profession

By Emma Stokes, WCPT President

As World Physical Therapy Day has approached, I have been thinking a lot about its theme, “Fulfilling potential”, and how we as a community work together to fulfil the potential of our profession.

It was very much on my mind during my trip to Taiwan, to join the Taiwan Physical Therapy Association for its 40th anniversary celebrations. The President, Suh-Fang Jeng, told me how, after a terrible tragedy at a concert in June where many, many young people were badly burned, she reached out to WCPT for names of physical therapist experts in the field of burns. 

One way WCPT supports the profession in fulfilling its potential and providing high-quality services to patients and clients is through making these connections when people are in need. It was such a clear example of how our international network helps the profession fulfil its potential. I would encourage readers to sign up to the WCPT’s database of experts, designed to connect those professionals who need specialist knowledge with those who can provide it.

Another opportunity has arisen which demonstrates how WCPT can help the profession fulfil its potential – this time through its national associations and education programmes. USAID, the United States government agency which works to end global poverty and build resilient societies, has made a call for funding applications to support projects which increase capacity in physical therapy associations and educational programmes. WCPT will be making an application, in partnership with Handicap International and other organisations.

If we are successful, this will mark a unique change in how we approach our work in empowering other organisations to fulfil their potential. It develops our capacity as an organisation and also signals a move towards seeking other sources of support for WCPT activities. 

As a profession we are strongest, and most capable of fulfilling our potential, when the majority of physical therapists in a country are members of their national association, when there is no professional fragmentation within countries.

So as I write this to you today, on World Physical Therapy Day, my message to you is: if you are not a member of your physical therapist association, join; and if you are a member, please get involved. The volunteer corps in physical therapy associations is key to our profession fulfilling its potential.