Interview with Justin Moore, PT, DPT

Many of you (my readers) have requested that I interview Justin Moore, PT, DPT, (@policy4pt) the ATPA’s lead lobbyist on Capital Hill. And, it finally happened!

We touched on a variety of topics in addition to focusing on the APTA’s engagements in the political & advocacy fronts. For more info on things related to the APTA and Political Action check out this page.

Without further delay, here’s the interview. Enjoy!


You’ve got a unique professional story! You went from graduating College with a degree in Dietetics to Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the APTA. Tell us your story. How did you get to where you are today?

I hope the story is still evolving. The chapters to date have been shaped by merging personal interests with the required education to practice physical therapy and be part of a profession. I came to physical therapy through an exposure and interest in serving individuals with disabilities. Dietetics was an early chapter by introducing me to the role of public policy and its impact on the health of communities.  Once in physical therapy, I found an environment that encouraged me to combine my interest in politics and public policy with my passion for my profession to begin to build a career. This was encouraged by Jayne Snyder early in my career which lead me to volunteer at the chapter level. These volunteer experiences led me to APTA’s federal and state forums. I joked to the Director of Government Affairs at the time, Nancy Garland, that she needed a PT on her staff. About a year later, she called to see if I was interested in joining staff. Being young and cheap, I was able to take this chance and begin to learn public policy, advocacy and government affairs from a great group of professionals at APTA. I hope this experiment APTA took on me 15 years ago has also opened doors for other PTs to seek non traditional career paths. The chance the organization took on me has been extremely rewarding and never short of challenge on a personal and professional level.

Let’s say someone at a non-PT event asks you “What is Physical Therapy?” How would you respond?

Physical therapy is about helping people get back what they have lost in their physical function and health.  Physical therapists are the bridge from what you currently cannot do physically to what you want to do.  Restoring movement to enable individuals to participate in their home, their work, their sport, their pursuits, and their communications is our core mission and purpose.

Since you have such a strong background in the public policy facet of Physical Therapy, what should every current and future PT know about how to push their profession forward?

To push the profession forward, you need a firm footing in the current public policies that define the profession and determine how, where and with whom we can practice. Understanding and appreciating the state practice act that defines physical therapy scope of practice is both the foundation and the opportunity. This policy provides the platform for recognition by payers and public programs, but also set up our potential to continue to advance our profession. To realize the opportunities ahead we need physical therapists to participate in public policy process from advocating on PT issues to community involvement to show our impact on society.

What is the biggest hurdle to complete Direct Access across the nation? What is the APTA doing toward this effort? And, what can PTs do to further fuel this effort?

Direct access is quickly becoming a reality. All 50 states have some form of direct access and we are seeing more rapid recognition by payers and the public at large. Direct access will only be a part of the equation as we will need to use this authority in different and new ways. Direct access has been incorrectly seen as our desire to seek independent practices and not as a mechanism to build collaborations with other healthcare professionals. These collaborations and partnership will be the next phase of demonstrating the importance of direct access to our practice and our impact on health care. APTA is seeking efforts to continue to expand commercial payer recognition, building the data case on direct access to show its use and value and efforts to educate the public on physical therapy and when to seek the care and services of a physical therapist. PTs should engage in their clinical environment, with their patients, and with payers to ensure that direct access is utilized and leveraged to improve our health care delivery system.

Pick one of the following you want as a Mentor? And why did you choose him/her?

  • Clark Kent (Superman)
  • Wonder Woman
  • Bruce Wayne (Batman)
  • Tony Stark (Ironman)
  • ______________ (your choice)

My knowledge of superheros is sparse, but I’m going to go with Bruce Wayne. I appreciate that he has become a superhero without a significant superpower. His message of leveraging your strengths, being resourceful, and building wisdom through experience and study have made Batman unique in the superhero space and I would love to have that mentorship.

What’s standing in the way of Dry Needling falling under the scope of all Physical Therapists across the US? How can PT’s help?

Physical therapists have been performing this intervention for years and clinician use is increasing. This intervention has also recently been subjected to the classic turf war of one profession seeking to have exclusive rights to this interventions. APTA is seeking legislative, regulatory and legal avenues to allow physical therapists to continue to use this intervention consistent with their education and training. PTs can help but understanding this public policy issue, educating their elected officials, and support efforts in states that are currently defending PTs ability to perform this intervention as part of their practice.

If you could speak to every PT in the US, then what would you tell him/her?

Remember why you choose the profession and keep that front and center every day. It is easy to get discouraged by the changing healthcare environment, the increasing demands, and all the distractions that pull physical therapists away from their purpose of service.

I would also tell every PT to never forgot that your license is yours. You’ve invested the time, energy, and intellect to have the privilege of a license, don’t underestimate it’s value, its potential, or ever compromise it.

Your calling to the profession and protecting your ability to practice by your license will serve you well and allow you to be a part of this great community of caregivers and clinicians.

Favorite books and/or authors? Any recommendations?

I’m not a voracious reader but have attempted to spend more time in books when on the road traveling and in the evening as my children read.   My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird (H. Lee). I’m currently reading Go Set a Watchman (H. Lee) and am disappointed in the start and struggling to stick with it.   

I would recommend Boys in the Boat (D. Brown) and Rome 1960 (D. Maraniss), both great story about young men and women coming of age in a changing world. They both have an Olympic thread as well which is an interest of mine as I love the Olympic movement, its history and the drama of each edition of the games. Lastly, I would recommend The Road to Character (D. Brooks). I bought this book for a friend that had just given an eulogy and was captivated by her remarks and the concept of eulogy virtues and how society is moving way from these virtues.   The book has one of my favorite lines and life themes about the importance and value of long obedience in the same direction.

Tell us about the Physical Therapy Outcomes Registry. How has it been going so far?

The registry is the project and initiative that I have been most excited about for some time. It’s potential is profession-changing but not without its significant challenges. The excitement and potential of the registry must be tempered by making it meaningful and easy to participate in at the clinic level. We need to systematically build the registry over the next several years and try to learn from each step and improve its utility and its value to clinicians and the profession at large.

The major hurdle for the registry and public launch of this platform for widespread participation is integration with electronic health records through an established sets of standards. Progress is being made but not at the pace we would like to see.

Do you have any passions or hobbies unrelated to PT?

My emerging and growing passion is about the importance of service and how we can participate in our communities to improve their lives and health. My particular interest is sports, recreation and physical activity for individuals with disabilities or significant impairments. I have two colleagues, one that volunteers with a little league baseball team for children with disabilities and one with a ski program. They both have my admiration and have sparked a desire to spend more time in service. My wife and family also have a passion to address hunger issues locally (comes from both my wife and I’s background in dietetics and nutrition). The number of children coming to school hungry in our neighborhood and community is unacceptable and if we can help one kid start their day a little better off than the day before, we want to help achieve that.

Since we’re coming up on an election year, is there anything we should consider in terms of Impact on Physical Therapists across the US?

The biggest impact physical therapists can have in elections is by actively participating. Educating candidates on the importance of health care and physical therapy to our communities and economy is essential. Our role and potential is still not widely understood, appreciated or leveraged. With the power of our collective profession participating in the electoral process, we can take great strides in realizing our role in improving the health of our patients and our communities. We also need more PTs to run for office. We have 11 in state legislatures but we need support and encourage more PTs to seek public service at all levels.

You’ve just traveled back in time and are sitting face-to-face with your 30 year old self. What advice would you give yourself?

Slow down to listen and learn. I was at times in a hurry when I was younger and didn’t take the time to observe, learn, and listen to some experienced leaders in the profession and public policy. Looking back the time spent talking with friends, listening to leaders, and learning by observing how one approached an issue, carried themselves and developed their thoughts was never wasted. Those opportunities always centered me and prepared me to be more aware, more knowledgeable and more engaged but I didn’t always seek them or appreciate them at the time.

Why doesn’t the PT profession have a super-PAC where anyone can donate money for the cause of strengthening ourselves on the political stage?

The physical therapy profession has an established and well regarded political action committee, PT-PAC. PT-PAC is the political action committee of the American Physical Therapy Association and a connected PAC. This means the PAC is limited to soliciting funds from a restricted class (APTA members) and distributing those funds in a transparent and regulated process to directly support candidates that are friends of the physical therapy profession. PT-PAC currently is a top 10 health care provide PAC with about 10,000 donors annually.   Our position on the political stage would be enhance by a greater market share of licensed PTs being members of APTA and a great percentage of these members contributing to to PT-PAC over the creation of a Super PAC in my estimation.

Super PACs are independent expenditure committees that do not make contribution directly to candidates but engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. These PAC are not subject to donor limitations as well and do more broad base issue advocacy. Due to limited resources and the cost of operating a Super PAC, APTA has focused its efforts to build the strongest, most effective connected PAC (PT-PAC). I also believe for a professional society that a connected PAC is most consistent with the role and purpose that these societies have in advocacy and public policy. Nothing restricts a SuperPAC from being established with its focus to advance physical therapy but I am also unaware of any significant or serious developments to form a Super PAC in PT and would encourage more widespread participation in PT-PAC over creating a Super PAC.

Share something about the APTA that most Physical Therapists across the country would/wouldn’t think of.

I think most physical therapists think of APTA as theirs and that is essential. APTA is and has always been the organization that physical therapists can call their own. APTA  is a collection of PTs that are set on protecting and advancing the profession. It will not solve the problems of PTs today or achieve the profession’s priorities without participation. Over our history many PTs as part of APTA have build a great foundation that all of us benefit from today. It’s our responsibility to participate, shape and add to the story of our profession for the next generation and continue to make APTA all of ours.

You’re a busy guy! Do you have any daily routines that keep you on task?

My daily routine is always better when I get a run in. I run for both mental and physical health and need that time on the trail or treadmill to think, plan and dream. I notice when I miss more than a day or two of running, I begin to slide in productivity and time management. I also like to run for solitude, no running partner, no iPod. My wife is the perfect running partner as we have trained for a marathon together and I bet we run for hours without saying a word, just both thinking and enjoying the steady pace. Another daily routine I’m working on is becoming a morning person. I have always worked late and been more of a night owl, but I am beginning enjoy starting the day earlier, doing some daily reading and getting my kids on the bus. My 9 year old son likes to play catch (baseball and football) as we wait for the bus and nothing starts the day better than tossing the ball around before meetings, emails, and time at a desk.

Justin, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts & experiences! It was very informative and spotlighted the importance of a united effort on the political front.

Connect with Justin Moore via twitter: @policy4pt

And, find me @Cinema_Air

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