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Strategic Planning to Shape the Future

Larsen, Deborah S. PT, PhD

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: September 2011 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 150
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e318229b4fc
President's Perspective

President, Neurology Section

Address correspondence to: Deborah S. Larsen, E-mail:

It is with great excitement and a little trepidation that I assume the role of President of the Neurology Section. As a first order of business, I'd like to take this very public opportunity to thank Kathy Sullivan for her leadership over the last 6 years; she did an outstanding job, and the Section is in a much better place as a result of her leadership. Thanks Kathy! I'd also like to thank the outgoing committee and Special Interest Group (SIG) members for their service and welcome those assuming new positions. Thank you for your willingness to serve. We are lucky to have such dedicated members.

I have spent the last year, as President-elect, watching and learning as much as I can about the Section, trying to meet as many of our members and nonmembers to determine the needs of the Section and what might entice nonmembers to become members. I have talked with former leaders and those looking to volunteer for the first time. It is reassuring that the Section is in an exceptional position and supported by extraordinary leaders, volunteers, and members. Furthermore, this is an exciting time for the Section, a period of dramatic change in health care and opportunity for the profession as well as organizational/governance change within the association. We, as neurologic physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, and students, are poised to shape the practice of the future, and with that opportunity, comes great responsibility to make strategic decisions.

With that in mind, the Section held a research strategic planning meeting in April 2011 that was attended by a spectrum of our membership: junior to senior researchers, early to late stage clinicians, APTA and Foundation leaders, and students. One might ask: Why? We felt that the Section should take a critical role in promoting neurologic research across the translational continuum (T1-–bench to clinic; T2—clinical trials; T3-–translation of clinical trials into clinical practice [knowledge application, comparative effectiveness research]; and T4-–knowledge dissemination),1 but especially to ensure knowledge application and dissemination. The group also felt a critical need to develop and prioritize research themes for which we can influence funding and the APTA's future research agenda. This is timely, given the recent publication of that agenda,2 which will guide the APTA's research-related activities in the coming years, and the pending activities to solicit support and federal funding to see the agenda to fruition.

Strategic planning is a vital component of Section business, and we are at the end of our 5-year plan. So, in September, the Section's Board of Directors, Committee Chairs, and SIG Chairs will come together to review our accomplishments and develop a new strategic plan. The research priorities, developed in April, will inform our new plan as we chart the course for our activities over the next 5 years. We will also examine our members' priorities, based on the results of our resent member survey, to ensure a new strategic plan that delineates an agenda to maximize our education, research, communication, advocacy, and clinical practice activities.

Through engagement of our members and outreach to nonmembers, it is my hope that we can expand our membership to diversify our perspective and meet the needs of neurologic physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, and students in all practice, education, and research settings. Through inclusion of all perspectives, we have the opportunity to carefully develop a strategic plan that will not only define the Section's activities for the next 5 years but also shape the future of neurologic physical therapy practice and ultimately health care for people with neurologic disorders into the next decade.

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2. Goldstein MS, Scalzitti DA, Craik RL, Dunn SL, Irion JM, Irrgang J, Kolobe THA, McDonough CM, Shields RK. The revised research agenda for physical therapy. Physical Therapy. 2011;91(2):165–174.
© 2011 Neurology Section, APTA