If you're anything like us, direct access can be a confusing term, often misused around the physical therapy clinic. As students, patients ask us why it is important for us to be earning a doctorate degree. Somewhere in the answer the terms "direct access, autonomous care, primary care providers, and differential diagnosis" are jumbled out. Many patients are confused by the extent of these terms. As practitioners, we need to do a better job answering difficult questions like this one. As Alan Besselink describes it in his latest blog post, "it's all in the language."
Currently the APTA recognizes 48 states that have some form of direct access. Of these 48, only 17 truly have direct access to patients. Our current language is allowing patients to believe we are more autonomous than we actually are. Let patients know that we only have 17 states with true direct access so they can stand behind us in promoting more autonomy in physical therapy!
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