Discover the benefits of joining a professional therapy association
Dive into alphabet soup: APTA, ASHA, AOTA, ANA, AMA, AAPS, AAP...the list goes on. There's an association (and accompanying acronym) for everyone.
Whether you are a recent graduate new to your profession or an old-timer with years of experience under your belt, a professional therapy association can be a great way to move your career forward. Organizations like the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) can help you stay on top of trends in the industry, keep you informed of continuing education opportunities and requirements, and introduce you to other professionals who could potentially enhance your career.
Of course, you have your excuses for not joining – and perhaps they're even legitimate. Membership dues can be costly, and there just aren't enough hours in the day for yet another commitment; plus, the idea of all that "schmoozing"...well, it's not exactly appealing.
However, being involved in a therapy association can be especially useful when you are searching for a job or trying to make a transition in your career. In fact, professional associations are often "the most forgotten and misunderstood career development tool." By maximizing your involvement in an association you can extend your professional therapy network and find doors opening that might otherwise remain closed.
When employment goes down, memberships in industry associations inevitably go up. Job seekers know that professional associations offer a unique opportunity to make new contacts and market themselves to potential employers. But you shouldn't wait until you are looking for a new position to join; by then, it's almost too late. A professional therapy network takes time to build, and using the chapter meeting to pass out your resume is not optimizing your involvement. Instead, take advantage of the classes and seminars hosted by your therapy association. Get involved with the association's community outreach program. Use the association to give back and you will ultimately get more.
Belonging to a therapy association is only as valuable as you make it. If all you do is write your membership check and sit back and let the newsletters flow in, well, you're probably not going to get your money's worth! But if you participate in meetings, attend seminars and conferences, and volunteer your ideas and services, you will discover a wealth of resources at your fingertips.
- Visconti, Ron. "Develop your career by joining a professional organization."
- Raines, Laura. "Industry associations are valuable assets."