CPA started hosting Forums in 2017, following a decision to hold Congress every other year. But what is a Forum? It is a platform for open dialogue, discussion and exchange focused on one topic. In 2017, the theme was leadership. In 2019, the theme is promoting healthy aging. We already have a working theme of vulnerable populations for 2021.
Forums are smaller, more intimate events of about 300 participants. This allows us to bring our events to all corners of the country- even smaller or more rural venues. Much of the programming is in the form of plenary sessions – so we all hear and see the same thing, encouraging more discussion between participants. There are four options for breakout sessions (as opposed to 6-8 for Congress). Sometimes, we determine that a session is so important that we repeat it to allow more people to attend.
Forums are also an opportunity for networking. The smaller event allows more time to meet colleagues and have deeper conversations. Students and new grads who attended Leadership Forum in 2017 commented on the value of these interactions in the early part of their careers.
During Forum, we have included a Think Tank session. A Google search of think tank provides this definition: ‘a body of experts providing advice and ideas on specific political or economic problems.’ At round tables of eight, participants discuss specific problems and come up with solutions. We harness the wisdom in the room and have lively discussions. During the Forum 2019 Think Tank, we plan to craft a message to the Federal Minister of Seniors on behalf of the profession.
During the Leadership Forum, participants identified potential barriers to achieving CPA's new vision and suggested possible solutions. CPA’s new vision statement came into effect in 2018: "Physiotherapy is your Essential Partner for Optimizing Health". A few members of the Leadership Forum Think Tank raised concerns that it will be difficult to work towards achieving this vision if not everyone is clear on it's meaning. They also raised interesting questions:
- Who is physiotherapy essential to? Its patients? The health care system? All Canadians?
- What is it essential for? Improving quality of life? Maintaining health goals? Preventing health problems? Reducing health care costs?
- Is the goal to make physiotherapy essential or to prove that it already is? Members of the think tank have given either and at times both interpretations.
From the feedback, six main barriers have been identified:
- differing interpretations of the vision;
- motivational issues;
- goals aren't shared between all physiotherapy associations, LHINs, politicians, regulators, and individual PTs;
- issues with how physiotherapy is branded and advertised;
- lack of advocacy for physiotherapy at higher levels; and
- technophobia within the profession
The information gathered at the 2017 Think Tank is used to inform project planning as we strive to implement the four new strategic directions.
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