Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, was recently re-elected President of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). APTA is a national professional organization representing more than 100,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students with the goal to foster advancements in physical therapy practice, research, and education.
Dr. Dunn has been an active member of APTA leadership for many years, having also served on the Board of Directors and as vice president. Her passions are advocacy, member engagement, and the Physical Therapy profession’s potential to add great value to a disrupted health delivery system.
Under the leadership of Dr. Dunn during her first tenure as President, APTA reached a record-setting membership number with more than 100,000 members and a growth trajectory not seen since the early 1990s. She was also instrumental in the decision to invest in a new APTA headquarters building in Virginia, and in the successful congressional effort for a permanent fix to the 20 year long Therapy Cap on Medicare beneficiaries. Dr. Dunn will serve her second three-year term as President of APTA leading up to the organization’s 100th anniversary in 2021.
“I have always been a proud member of APTA, and I was first elected President in 2015. It was a tremendous honor to be able to contribute in a leadership role and to help lead the organization during a transitional period for health services delivery in this country. It has been so enriching to my life and my career to be able to serve the physical therapy profession in this capacity,” said Sharon Dunn, PT, PhD, Associate Professor, Physical Therapy Program at LSU Health Shreveport School of Allied Health Professions.
One of the issues Dr. Dunn and the APTA leadership team will address is the rising cost of Physical Therapy education, which is outpacing entry-level income. Completing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program can cost nearly as much as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) program, and student loan debt can impact a recent graduate’s career choice. Another opportunity she sees is the need for integration of PT across the health delivery continuum as an added value which helps save overall healthcare costs. In her 2018 Presidential Address to the APTA House of Delegates in Orlando, Fla., Dr. Dunn stated that the future of the physical therapy profession will be “characterized by an increased role in sustaining health and proactively preventing disability and disease.”
“President Dunn’s tireless commitment to advancing the profession and advocating for APTA’s members and their patients, and the positive results we’ve seen during her tenure, make it clear she is an incredible leader,” said APTA CEO Justin Moore, PT, DPT. “Sharon has been a true inspiration, not just to me, but also to those whose lives she’s touched. Her passion and positive energy are contagious and I am looking forward to continuing our work together to transform society.”