Standards, for life

‘I’ve always known my home is the PSB; it’s really where my calling is’
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Monday, October 28, 2019

EXETER, Pa. – It’s an “exciting” time to be leading RESNA’s Professional Standards Board, a group charged with overseeing the organization’s certification programs, says its newly appointed Chairwoman Julie Piriano. The complex rehab industry is at a crossroads as to how to best recognize professionals who specialize in seating, positioning and mobility, with a recent bill to create a separate benefit requiring CMS to establish an additional designation above and beyond the ATP. Here’s how Piriano, PT, ATP/SMS, director of rehab industry affairs for Pride Mobility Products, aims to steer RESNA and the industry toward the right solution.

HME News: You’ve been a RESNA member for more than 20 years?

Julie Piriano: It’s actually been 27 years. My supervisor at a seating clinic at the time—she was involved in RESNA—said, “We’re going to the annual conference and we’re putting together a poster presentation. That’s how we’re going to get you to go.” And I said, “Alright, let’s do this thing.” It was like I found my people there. This was an organization of people doing exactly what I was doing and doing it with the same passion.

HME: You must have been involved at RESNA when they first started talking about certification.

Piriano: Yes, I was involved even before the first ATP test was administered. I helped to flesh out what it might look like and what needed to be done to get it to fruition. I sat for the test the second time it was administered.

HME: You’re no stranger to the PSB, specifically, either.

Piriano: My first go round on the PSB was for seven years; then I had to step off (due to term limits). I’ve always known my home is the PSB; it’s really where my calling is. When there was an opening to go back as chair, I threw my hat in the ring.

HME: What do you think about the idea of an ATP-plus?

Piriano: I believe strongly in it. There are nuances that are critical in the service delivery, in the evaluation and in the recommendation of seating and wheeled mobility devices that are different from other parts of assistive technology. While there are standards of practice we all adhere to as ATPs, an ATP-plus would demonstrate that you’ve gone above and beyond the general ATP and that you specialize in the provision of seating and wheeled mobility.

HME: What might the ATP-plus look like?

Piriano: We don’t know what it will look like yet. There are several different roads it could take. We are very supportive and actively engaged in what it could look like. We’re embracing this new landscape; it’s exciting times.

HME: Could the SMS be used as an ATP-plus designation?

Piriano: It certainly could be an answer, because of the rigor that goes into the development of a certification exam like the SMS. In general, there’s an opportunity for us to look at, in the near-term, the specialties under the ATP and how they might also demonstrate additional knowledge in various areas.

HME: Helping to guide the ATP-plus will be a big responsibility, but what else is on your to-do list as chairwoman?

Piriano: Ensuring that complaints are handled. We take complaints seriously, and we police ourselves in the strongest available way. But my concern is that that are complaints not being submitted for fear of retaliation, especially in smaller markets. I want to find out how to make people feel more comfortable doing that.