On a Mission to Advance the Profession for Future Generations 

By Said Mendez, DPT Class of 2025


The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Capitol Hill Day is an annual event that brings together physical therapy professionals and students in Washington, D.C., so they can amplify their voices while engaging with legislators and advocating for their profession.
This year’s event had 230 advocates in attendance, including 28 students and clinicians from North Carolina. This was one of the largest groups representing a state on Capitol Hill, and Duke had one of the largest groups of students advocating for the profession, with a total of 14. The acts that were advocated for include the Stopping Addiction and Falls for the Elderly (SAFE) Act (H.R. 7618), the Strengthening Medicare for Patients and Providers Act (H.R. 2474), and the Expanded Telehealth Access Act of 2023 (H.R. 33875/S. 2880).
Duke University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and High Point University DPT students made an impact at the offices of elected officials from North Carolina, Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut by educating their respective representatives and senators about the role of physical therapists in healthcare systems.

students pose for a photo by a NC representative's office door

Capitol Hill Day exposed students to APTA staff members who advocate for their profession regularly, helping them learn about the direct effects of public policy on healthcare. The experience also helped students grow their leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. Furthermore, clinicians from their respective states mentored students throughout the day, and many learned about the advocacy and professional growth opportunities available to them in their home states after graduation. Overall, it was a refreshing experience for attendees who were able to help grow and advance the profession for future generations. 

Kyle Covington, PT, DPT, PhD, who led the Duke DPT student contingent on the trip, said it helps them realize the power of their voices to advocate for and make changes in the profession. “I saw a shift in their confidence during the experience. Their enjoyment of talking about the profession grew along with their passion.”

Duke students and staff pose for a photo