RESNA ‘full force ahead’ on growing ATP base

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

ARLINGTON, Va. – RESNA isn’t sitting idly by while a large number of ATPs age out of the complex rehab industry, says Charlie Raphael, the organization’s director of certification and education.

“We’re aware that the demographic skews a bit older, and we understand the challenge,” he said. “We’re continuing to try to regenerate the number of ATPs and we feel like we’re ahead of the curve.”

Nearly 25% of the current pool of ATPs could be retired in five years, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the University of Pittsburgh and NCART. The average age of an ATP is nearly 52, the survey found.

RESNA has a number of efforts already in play to recruit more ATPs, including better aligning itself with physical and occupational therapy organizations and talking up the certification at conferences like “Closing the Gap,” where there are “large audiences” of PTs and OTs, Raphael says.

“We want to make it easier for more and more of these people to get involved,” he said. “Invariably, if I’m talking to an OT at a conference, they say they don’t know if they have the experience to become an ATP. I ask them what they do, and part of what they say involves using an iPad, and I say, there you go. Once you start to unravel that ball of string, it becomes more clear.”

Raphael, who has been at RESNA for about a year but has more than 12 years of experience in professional certification, has other ideas, too. Among them: developing an associate ATP program.

“This would be a person who has sat for and passed the exam but who doesn't have the required work experience yet,” he said. “Once they get that experience, they become a full ATP. To me that gets people in the right frame of mind and on the right path, and helps us better understand where we are.”

Another idea: applying the clinical competencies that students accrue while completing accredited higher education programs like that at UPitt toward the ATP work experience requirements, Raphael said.

“When they come out of those programs, the threshold would be less,” he said.

RESNA has seen about a 2% to 3% growth rate in the number of ATPs over the last three to four years, but Raphael says “exams are up and the number of ATPs is up” this year.

“We’re full force ahead with our heads up,” he said. “I think we’re going to do a really good job in 2019.”