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AOPT 2022 Election - Slate of Candidates

The AOPT Call for Candidates period has closed, and the voting period is open through August 31, 2022.

The following individuals have been slated for the AOPT 2022 election:


Vice President Candidate:

  • James Spencer, DPT, OCS

Director Candidates:

  • Nancy Bloom, PT, DPT, MSOT
  • Janet Konecne, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, CSCS
  • Jake Magel, PT, PhD, DSc, FAAOMPT
  • Lorena Pettet Payne, PT, MPA
  • Tess Vaughn, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, DN

Nominating Committee Candidates:

  • Caroline L. Brunst, PT, DPT, SCS, OCS, AT
  • Zuleima Hidalgo, PT, DPT, OCS
  • Stephanie Pascoe, PT, DPT, DSc
  • Katie Qiu, DPT

Meet our candidates below:

Vice President:

Click here to meet this candidate.

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James Spencer, DPT, OCS
Candidate Profile:
I am excited to be slated for and to serve as Vice President for the Academy. I am a full-time clinician and new business owner. Just over a year ago, I started a private practice, Ajax Physical Therapy in Aspen, Colorado, with my wife Kate. We treat individuals in their homes, outside of the limitations of insurance. In the past year, I have found a new lease on professional life and a different way of thinking about the provision of Physical Therapy. Over the past 16 years, I have worked in a wide variety of clinical, geographic, and cultural settings, first as a travel PT for 10 years, then as a hospital-based PT, and now as a private practice owner. Outside of work, I currently serve on the AOPT Board of Directors as Practice Chair and Chief Delegate. Previously, I have served as AOPT Membership Committee Chair and Nominating Committee Chair. I have also served the larger APTA and several Chapters in many other official and unofficial capacities. I have a unique breadth of experiences clinically and in leadership within APTA that have uniquely prepared me to serve as AOPT Vice President.

Candidate Statement: In the past five years, I have experienced much personal and professional growth – having two children, starting an in-home and out-of-network PT practice, and serving on the AOPT Board. Rather than listing AOPT and APTA initiatives and groups that I have contributed to, I would rather use this space to discuss what I think the role of AOPT and APTA are in advancing Physical Therapy. First, Physical Therapy has a lot going for us. We are the experts in conservative care. Nobody diagnoses and treats musculoskeletal dysfunction like us. We are uniquely situated to treat individuals in a way that absolutely no one else does. For the majority of cases, the evidence-based care we provide is superior to other available and widely chosen options (surgery, injections, snake oil). However, our practitioners often do not receive the recognition we should, financially or otherwise. Despite our one-of-a-kind approach to health care, clinicians are underpaid, burnt-out, and spread-thin by the requirements of bureaucracy. Every topic AOPT engages in should be boiled down to the singular question, “How does this topic affect the wellbeing and effectiveness of clinicians and the experiences of their patients?” In a supply versus demand view of our profession, we need to increase the “supply” of individuals seeking physical therapy. Evidence suggests that as much as 90% of the people who should be seeing a PT for LBP never make it to us. We need to narrow our focus to efforts that break down the regulatory and social barriers preventing patients from getting to our clinics. I believe our greatest responsibility as a professional association is to develop the tools and resources for our Members to effectively advocate for themselves in their own communities so that they may practice to the fullest extent of their knowledge and scope of practice. With our support, PTs should be able to practice to their fullest potential. Furthermore, we need to teach our Members how to be effective leaders beyond our profession. We should empower and encourage PTs to seek careers beyond “typical” PT roles – leadership in insurance companies, heath care organizations, regulatory institutions, and government so they can expertly advocate for the role of conservative musculoskeletal care before other more invasive options. As Vice President of AOPT, I will always put clinicians first, and I will work hard to find the pathways that can incrementally help PTs and PTAs have the biggest impact they can on their communities while gaining the financial and professional respect we deserve.

Director:

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Nancy Bloom, PT, DPT, MSOT
Candidate Profile:
Nancy Bloom, PT, DPT, MSOT, is a professor of physical therapy and orthopaedic surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Missouri. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Virginia and both her master’s degree in occupational therapy and her clinical doctorate in physical therapy from Washington University. After five years of working in acute neurology rehabilitation as an occupational therapist, Nancy shifted her interest to the field of physical therapy. Once licensed, she focused on the field of orthopaedic physical therapy and neuromusculoskeletal health. Nancy currently teaches a variety of courses and treats multiple musculoskeletal problems at the Program in Physical Therapy. The primary focus of her teaching, clinical practice, and research is the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the hip and lumbar spine. She has more than 15 peer-reviewed publications on these topics. She was the recipient of the Outstanding Service Award in Education from the Missouri Physical Therapy Association and the Henry O. & Florence P. Kendall Practice Award from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Throughout her career, Nancy has contributed to continuing education for physical therapy practitioners. She has presented at conferences, both nationally and internationally, and taught continuing education courses in the United States, Canada, and Europe on the topic of Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement System Impairment Syndromes. Nancy served the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (AOPT) as Chair of the Education Committee. During that time, she was an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors, member of the advisory panel, and led a variety of task forces. She represented AOPT at the APTA Task Force for Movement System Diagnosis. Nancy is a member of the APTA, AOPT, and Academies of Sports Physical Therapy and Education.

Candidate Statement: The Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (AOPT) provides a valuable service to members. I want to be part of the leadership that guides the Academy into the future. Because my daily work requires frequent contact with students, clinicians, faculty members, and researchers, I believe I have a perspective that represents the needs of each of the aforementioned groups. In addition, during my six-year service as Education Chair, I was fortunate to participate in the development of the Academy’s current Strategic Framework. Although I support all four initiatives in the Framework, my skills particularly align with the initiative titled Evidence to Best Practice. I believe combining knowledge of the literature with clinical expertise is key to reducing unwanted variance in clinical practice. The Academy has been a leader in supporting the development of the clinical practice guidelines and now has the opportunity to facilitate member implementation of those guidelines.

During the past few years, due to the pandemic as well as advances in technology, I developed expertise in delivering education content and mentoring students and clinicians virtually. At the same time, I adapted my methods of instruction based on new evidence published in the learning sciences literature. Examples include varying the mode and timeframe for delivery of content, and implementing new ways of assessing knowledge and performance. I would like to see the Academy incorporate these and other innovations in education when providing learning opportunities for members.

Another area that could enhance the value of membership in AOPT is increased collaboration with other Academies and the American Physical Therapy Association. I believe working more closely together provides an opportunity to manage overlap in areas of common interest. This cooperation would result in more concise, efficient and economical access to programming and activities.

Our Academy has an important role to play in our profession. If elected as your Director, I will work diligently to help us reach our fullest potential.

Director:

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Janet Konecne, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, CSCS
Candidate Profile:
Janet L. Konecne, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, CSCS, is a clinician and educator from Southern California. She is the Director of Clinical Education and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California and practices at a private clinic in Anaheim, California where she educates the community on movement related issues and prevention. Dr. Konecne recently completed her PhD in Leadership with an emphasis in Health Services. She has been an active member of the APTA since 1982 and a member of the Education, Orthopaedic, and Geriatric Sections for many years. She has received the Charles Magistro Service Award for California. She has a subspecialty in Performing Arts Medicine, assisting dancers, instrumentalists, actors and creative performers with injury prevention and management. She is currently serving as a medical advisor to Pacific Crest, a Drum and Bugle Corp, and has served as a technical advisor for the film and television industry. Dr. Konecne currently serves on the AOPT Board as a Director, and has served on the California Chapter Board, as well as numerous committee positions.

Candidate Statement: Thank you for considering me for this incredible opportunity to continue serving the members of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. I have been a member of the APTA since 1982. As I review the work that has previously been done in the Academy and recognize the challenges that we face coming out of the pandemic, I am excited for the possibilities that are before us. I have been inspired by those who have served before me and I am honored to have worked with our membership to move closer to our goals set by the Academy. I believe we still have work to do to create opportunities for the public to access our services, to mentor a diverse group as they discover and use their leadership skills to serve our profession, and to continue to define and clarify our role as healthcare providers in today’s society. I have a creative and open mind and am known for thinking outside of the box. I believe that we need this type of leadership on our team to assist as our mission is accomplished. Working to further create and refine our Clinical Practice Guidelines should be an ongoing process and I would like to see our evidence-based voice become even more present in social media platforms. Thank you for your confidence over the past 2 years and I look forward to the continued opportunity to responsibly serve in this role.

Director:

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Jake Magel, PT, PhD, DSc, FAAOMPT
Candidate Profile: 
I am a Research Associate Professor at the University of Utah (UoU) in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training and a 21-year member of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. I completed a post-professional Doctoral Program in Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy in 2001 and a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from UoU in 2015. I am a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT). My research focuses on the management of patients with musculoskeletal conditions, with original research presented nationally and internationally. I have practiced for 25 years and mentored students and colleagues for 20 years. I am Chair of the AOPT Scope of Practice Workgroup, Chair of the AAOMPT Practice Affairs Committee and a 2018 recipient of the AAOMPT Mennell Service Award. Evidence-based practice (EBP) has always informed my clinical decisions and I will always advocate for reimbursement models that take into consideration the clinician’s performance as it relates to EBP and value.

Candidate Statement: AOPT strives to be a world leader in providing resources to optimize movement and musculoskeletal health and aligns with my professional values, passion, and dedication. I am deeply committed to assist AOPT governance with dedicated leadership and service. We are challenged to continually demonstrate value in physical therapy (PT). Facilitating the translation of clinical practice guidelines into routine physical therapist practice is a priority and is essential to bolster physical therapists’ value to the public and payers. I am eager to share in leadership that will springboard AOPT’s goal of enhancing payment for services by demonstrating the value of physical therapy. A lack of public awareness of the benefits of PT for orthopaedic conditions is a historical challenge. While research demonstrates the beneficial effects of early PT for conditions such as low back pain, patients consistently consult other provider types when accessing healthcare. I will champion AOPT’s goal to position members as experts in managing movement and functional performance. I will work to place physical therapists squarely in the clinical pathways of patients who need our expertise. Our educational programming must promote evidence-based guidelines to reduce unwarranted variation and inappropriate care and improve outcomes as well as how to implement guideline-concordant care into practice. From my experience in leadership and teaching practicing physical therapists, entry-level DPT and PhD students, I will strive to enhance our programming and ensure its alignment with clinical practice guidelines. I look forward to contributing my passion, leadership expertise and vision to AOPT’s Board.

Director:

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Lorena Pettet Payne, PT, MPA
Candidate Profile: 
Lorena Pettet Payne completed her physical therapy education at Northern Arizona University (1983) and a graduate degree in public health administration from Grand Valley State University. She is a board-certified specialist in Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (OCS) since May, 2000. As the owner of a private practice and most recently working at job sites, emphasis in practice has been the management of chronic conditions and movement disorders, prevention of injury and return to meaningful work after injury. She has assisted in minimizing risk and promoted healthy work habits in diverse settings including auto manufacturing, steel production, food processing, light manufacturing, ranching, construction, the service industry and office environments. Lorena teaches occupational safety and health at the University of Montana for the doctoral program in Physical Therapy. She has served in the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (AOPT) in various elected positions including two terms as President of the Occupational Health Special Interest Group and two terms as President of the Montana Chapter of APTA, and on the Finance Committee of the Practice Section of APTA. She is a board member of Families With Heart, a non-profit group with collaborative relationships with Carroll College in Helena, Montana and El Arca, a non-profit group based in Ecuador. Lorena was the recipient of the 2016 Nora Staal-Evert Award for contributions to the field of physical therapy, presented by the Montana Chapter of American Physical Therapy Association. She is co-author of the Clinical Guidance to Optimize Work Participation After Injury or Illness: The Role of Physical Therapists. On behalf of the APTA, she has reviewed and submitted comment on guidelines developed by American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. She presents on occupational health topics and physical therapy management systems at APTA chapter meetings, Combined Sections Meeting, departments of labor and healthcare systems.

Candidate Statement: Text messaging with your family, your coworkers or for personal bill reminders, is likely the most common form of communication today. It is also likely that this form of communication leads to misunderstandings or incomplete information (in spite of the attached emoji). Throughout my 39 years of physical therapy practice, I know that effective communication is key to the success (or failure) of this profession. It will lead to improved patient outcomes, successful regulatory initiatives, productive collaboration with other providers or peers to name a few examples. The words that are used should validate and respect diverse viewpoints, spark new ideas, promote collaboration and guide innovation. The platform for communication needs to be specific to the message and the audience. Communication should promote consistent messages between every component of APTA to guarantee that initiatives are not redundant or conflicting. Routine assessment of the communication method or platform such as independent study courses, printed material and electronic communication should lead to innovative and timely changes, supporting the values of engagement and innovation. The consideration of Wilderness Medicine Physical Therapy EIG is a great example of engaging with membership and acting on the request. Good communication within the Academy begins with orientation of all Directors and leaders of Special Interest Groups and includes the rationale for bylaws adherence and Board directives. If elected as an AOPT Board Member, I will seek to understand all viewpoints, advance current strategic initiatives, encourage change to ensure value of membership, guide leaders of the committees and groups toward common objectives, advocate for and support regulatory changes based upon accurate information from AOPT and promote collaborative relationships with other organizations. To position membership as experts in orthopaedic practice, I will support initiatives that provide consistent and accessible communication pathways with academic programs, providing the most current, evidence-based information for entry level practice.

Director:

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Tess Vaughn, PT, DPT, OCS, COMT, DN
Candidate Profile: 
Dr. Tess Vaughn lives in Athens, Georgia and owns an Out of Network outpatient clinic specializing in orthopaedics, sports, pelvic health, and wellness. She is a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopaedic PT (2011, 2021) and Certified Orthopaedic Manual Therapist (2004). She also holds a certificate in Dry Needling since 2014. Dr. Vaughn has 26 years of clinical experience in a variety of settings including private practice, hospital-based outpatient clinics, home health, and assisting coverage of athletics at a local middle and high school. She served as the Education Chair of the AOPT from 2013-2016, Vice Chair of the Education Committee from 2011-2013, and a Member of the Education Committee from 2010-2011. Dr. Vaughn was asked by the Board of Directors to lead a Task Force Committee for the Annual Orthopaedic Meeting in 2019.

Dr. Vaughn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of North Georgia in 1993 and her Master of Science Physical Therapy degree in 1996. She later earned her transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Regis University in 2009. 

Candidate Statement: Having sat with the Board of Directors during meetings and strategic planning as the Education Chair for 3 years and the Vice Chair for 2 years, I understand the procedures, the discussions, and the decision-making process. During that time, I served under various Presidents, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Treasurers all with different personalities and different ways to achieve the goals of AOPT. However, even with these differences, the ultimate Mission, Vision, and Values of the Academy have remained the priority. Our goal is, simply, to serve the Members and provide the best way to support you whether through evidence for best practice, positioning ourselves as experts in movement and function, or enhancing payment for our services.

I bring 26 years of clinical practice experience to the role of Director. I started as a staff PT, opened a private practice in 2005, and transitioned to a cash-based practice in 2021. I have weathered the paperwork demands, reimbursement cuts and struggles with staff and as a solo practitioner. I understand trying to become, and continue to enhance our clinical skills to be, a top-notch clinician while also meeting the “numbers” demand. I understand the importance of finding a balance between family, work, our health, and our hobbies. It is my intention to be aware of these issues as I sit with the other Board of Directors and discuss and decide on issues that will affect our profession and how we are able to practice.

Nominating Committee Member:

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Caroline L. Brunst, PT, DPT, SCS, OCS, AT
Candidate Profile: 
Dr. Caroline Brunst has been a clinician researcher with The Ohio State University since 2013 and is currently serving a one-year term on the AOPT Nominating Committee. Caroline presents annually at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting and was a finalist for the AASPT Excellence in Research Award in 2019 and 2021. Her research interests include outcomes following ACL reconstruction and cartilage restoration procedures. Dr. Brunst is a dual board-certified specialist in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy and serves as an item writer for the ABPTS Specialization Academy of Content Experts. Other professional service includes serving as an Ohio Delegate for the APTA House of Delegates and proudly representing the Ohio Chapter as an APTA Centennial Scholar - an APTA sponsored program to build a cadre of future association leaders. She serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce for the Ohio Physical Therapy Association (OPTA) and for The Ohio State University Medical Center. Additionally, she was the recipient of the 2018 OPTA Emerging Leader Award and was a 2020 graduate of the OPTA’s inaugural L.I.F.E. Leadership Academy. Caroline completed her DPT education at The University of Saint Augustine for Health Sciences in 2012 and earned her Master’s in Clinical and Preclinical Research from The Ohio State University in 2018. She completed her B.S. in Athletic Training from The Ohio State University in 2010.

Candidate Statement: I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue my service to you and the AOPT through a second term on the AOPT Nominating Committee. The charge of the Nominating Committee is to provide a full slate of candidates to ensure the AOPT members have a choice when electing their leaders. I am passionate about continuing the effort of putting forth a slate of candidates that holistically represents the entire profession – with diversity in ethnicity, practice area, experiences, race, and identity. Slating a diverse representation in candidates will empower the membership to invest in voices that may not be currently represented in our leadership. Through my personal experiences and my professional service, I have gained an understanding of the importance of representing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our leadership. For our association to thrive, we need proper representation of our profession to match societal needs. I am passionate about being part of the solution to improve DEI within the AOPT and am committed to helping the organization raise the bar for our own diversity by establishing and sustaining a safe an inclusive environment for everyone. I am proud of the work the Nominating Committee has done this year and feel we are providing membership with a full and balanced slate to choose their future leaders. My experiences have equipped me with the network to positively contribute to the Nominating Committee efforts by to tapping into the rich professional relationships I have grown over the years, and the confidence to foster new relationships through the role. I am passionate about continuing to serve you and The Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy and feel I am equipped to be successful in this role through my professional service, relationships, communication, and devotion to the profession. Thank you for your consideration for the AOPT Nominating Committee vote.

Nominating Committee Member:

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Zuleima Hidalgo, PT, DPT, OCS
Candidate Profile: 
Zuleima Hidalgo received her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2011. She later graduated with her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in May 2015 from the University of Southern California (USC). After graduating from USC, she soon was an orthopaedic resident at Kaiser Permanente Southern California where she obtained her orthopaedic clinical specialist certification in 2017. Dr. Hidalgo continued her education at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, where she completed the Spine Rehabilitation Fellowship program in February 2018. She currently works for Kaiser Permanente in Washington, DC where she has been specifically treating patients with a wide variety of spine conditions. Dr. Hidalgo works very closely with the Adult Family Practice Physicians at her center where she helps the physicians identify appropriate candidates for Physical Therapy. She spends 15 hours a week working alongside the physicians. Dr. Hidalgo is currently involved with the DC Physical Therapy Association where she attends meetings, events, and participates with community work on the weekends. She also helped found and establish USC’s Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy’s Latinx Alumni Association where she serves as the current Vice President.

Candidate Statement: Raising awareness about our profession and what we do as Physical Therapists has been my passion since I started my career as a Physical Therapist. We have to learn how to market ourselves in order to flourish. I often find myself explaining what I do as a Physical Therapist more often than actually talking about my day at work. This is why it is so important for me to be involved in my local community and speak at panels, attend Career Days, and educate individuals whenever I can about the numerous careers that there are in healthcare. I am always recruiting co-workers and former classmates to attend events with me or to help with educating others on what Physical Therapy is and why it is so imperative in our healthcare system. Pursuing a position in the AOPT Nominating Committee will allow me to practice what I practice everyday in Washington, DC, and that is to help recruit other Physical Therapists to become more involved. I hope to identify qualified candidates that can help move our profession forward. I am confident in my ability to screen Physical Therapist’s as well as students for certain roles in our community. While recruitment is important I also plan to focus on retention of members. We have to make participation and community service fun in order for more of us to get involved, and that’s what I hope to change and accomplish. I want to build a society and network that we can participate in and enjoy. I think that by participating in local community events we can continue to make a difference for our profession.

Nominating Committee Member:

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Stephanie Pascoe, PT, DPT, DSc
Candidate Profile: 
Dr. Stephanie Pascoe is currently the program director for Evidence in Motion’s (EIM) Orthopaedic Residency Program. She lives in Colorado and has been a part of the Colorado Chapter since 2006. She graduated from Regis University in 2008. As a PT student Stephanie was nominated to be the APTA liason for her class. It was during this time in which she recognized how important being an active member of our professional association is. She attended the student conclave, CSM and AAOMPT most years as a student and began networking with other physical therapist across the country! In her early professional years she was on the professional development committee for the Colorado Chapter which allowed Stephanie to network with many physical therapists. Stephanie went on to complete an orthopaedic residency program at the University of Wisconsin, was involved in the Wisconsin Chapter of the APTA, and then continued on to complete a fellowship in manual therapy with EIM. Just recently she completed her Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy at Bellin College. Stephanie has had the opportunity to speak at national and international conferences. Her passion is teaching post-professional education and using curricular design to optimize residency education and resident outcomes.

Candidate Statement: If elected into the Nominating Committee my focus will be to support the purpose, mission and vision of the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. Having been an active member for more than 15 years I personally have experienced the benefits the Academy has offered to members. I am thankful in so many ways for the Academy and the opportunities the Academy has provided to me. Having completed an orthopaedic residency program, manual therapy fellowship and most recently a doctorate in science, I truly believe physical therapist are the leaders in providing musculoskeletal healthcare. The Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy provides many resources to assure this stays true and becomes more commonly known to the general public across the country. Through my previous experiences and current role of being the program director of the largest orthopaedic residency program, I hope to foster engagement, excellence, innovation and respect as a Nominating Committee Member. At Evidence in Motion, we are constantly pushing boundaries, and much of this is through innovation. With an ever-changing world, being innovative is important to all. Being innovative will stimulate engagement, excellence and respect. However, in a world that offers information constantly, creating innovation and promoting engagement can be difficult. As I reflect on the last few years, engagement significantly decreased in many ways specifically in face to face activities, yet engagement online significantly increased. My opinion on promoting the values of the Academy are foundationally supported by developing relationships. I am where I am today primarily because of the relationships that I have, and have had, throughout my professional career. It is through these relationships where the Academy will fulfill their purpose and mission! So many of us are craving face to face time and active engagement, so refocusing on opportunities for engagement and relationship development would be a focus of mine if elected to this position. As I reflect on the value of innovation, I also believe that this value can be accomplished through building relationships. When I consider the position of Nominating Committee, I feel that those in this position must value relationships. They must connect with other members and encourage those who would represent the Academy to apply for a candidate position. This person requires an ability to communicate well, encourage others and be able to network. I feel strongly that I come to the table with these qualities and hope that through my previous experiences and current positions I can be successful within the Nominating Committee.

Nominating Committee Member:

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Katie Qiu, DPT
Candidate Profile: 
My name is Katie Qiu, and I recently graduated from High Point University in North Carolina in their third doctor of physical therapy class. As a student, I was a member of the university’s first graduate interdisciplinary Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion club, Joining Hands in Health Care, and served as its social chair. At the state level, I was part of several project committees of the APTA North Carolina Student SIG, including Student Conclave, Advocacy, and DEI. During my 2-year service on these committees, I helped set up 2 annual Student Conclaves, 2 annual national advocacy dinners, and several monthly webinars within the Student SIG. Nationally, I was the chair of the APTA Student Assembly DEI Project Committee. At the academy level, I have already presented 4 posters in the past two Combined Sections Meetings in the Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. I also published “Professional and Scientific Societies Impacting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM” as the first author in Frontiers Sociology. During my transition from student to licensed profession, I was invited to join the APTA North Carolina Communications committee. Currently, I am working as an orthopaedic resident at the Palo Alto Veteran Affairs Hospital with a focus on primary care ranging from the routine physician visit to the emergency department.

Candidate Statement: I like the term “servant leader”. Being a servant leader means getting on the ground level to solve the problem with the team member. I believe the most difficult part of a leader is to be unbiased and keep an open mind which would allow ideas to flow in the room while understanding that a decision must be made, and it might not be the perfect solution for all parties. Recognizing that, one of my missions being on the Nominating Committee is to identify leaders who are both willing to get on the ground level with the people they serve and help execute a solution effectively. It is my honor to be selected running for this position as a new graduate. Being selected to be a candidate demonstrated AOPT’s commitment to diversity in leadership positions. As I reflected on my transition out of my role as the Chair of APTA Student Assembly Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Project Committee this June, I realized I could bring what I have learned to a bigger platform, such as the Academy of Orthopedic Physical Therapy. Physical therapy as a profession is changing rapidly. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a broad concept that can seem overwhelming at times. As evidenced by the fact that Diversity & Inclusion are at the top of AOPT’s strategic framework for the near future, one of my main goals in serving the AOPT community is to improve the level of promotion of exceptional candidates who have been traditionally excluded from leading roles and to provide them with a bigger platform in order to advance the trajectory of their career path within the profession. In terms of other strategic plan goals, evidence-based practice is essential in our practice, and it is important to be involved as early on as a student. One of the barriers for students and early professionals to contribute evidence is that they don’t know where to start. With my experiences presenting at different conferences, I can mentor students on how to get the process started and provide hands-on writing seminars for abstracts. Through this mentorship, I could form deep connections and guide them into leadership positions for the Academy. Being in the Communication Committee, my team has focused on various ways to engage members and raise awareness on what we do. This experience will allow me to provide a fresh perspective for the academy’s strategy plan on public awareness. Finally, in my current work in a primary care role in ED and routine physician visits, I continue to investigate the optimal way to incorporate physical therapist practices to relieve the health care system burden, an overarching issue that I aim to tackle during my time in the office.