News & Press: Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight on James Smith, PT, DPT, MA

Friday, July 20, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gloria Baker
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Jim Smith, PT, DPT, MA

Utica College, Professor of Physical Therapy




July 2018

As you read Jim's profile you'll see that no matter where he's lived, being of service to the physical therapy profession is very important to him.  Much of his career has been in hospital-based practice at John's Hopkins Hospital and Hartford Hospital. Jim is currently a professor of physical therapy at Utica College.  He loves whitewater, canoeing and has won national championships in open canoe whitewater slalom.  In October Jim and his wife Ellen will celebrate their 30th Wedding Anniversary.


Take a few minutes and get to know this month's member spotlight with us! Enjoy the Q&A with Jim below.

How long have you been a member of the NYPTA?  What is your best experience thus far?


I joined the NYPTA in 2005, when I moved to Clinton, NY from Connecticut. I have served 3 times as an NYPTA delegate in APTA’s House of Delegates. While I had prior experience serving in APTA’s House of Delegates, I was fortunate to have Gabe Yankowitz mentor me through my first House with the NY delegation. That process provided me with a mentor and friend, and I have appreciated his wisdom about the House of Delegates, the profession and society. 



Tell us a little about your background, and how your path led you to where you are in your career today.  What's your favorite moment of your career so far?


Much of my career has been in hospital-based practice at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (Maryland) and Hartford Hospital (Connecticut). I was the founding director for the Connecticut Community Colleges’ Physical Therapist Assistant Program, a consortium program based at Naugatuck Valley Community College. Now I am a professor of physical therapy at Utica College.


My service in the profession includes treasurer, director, and Public Relations Committee chair in the Connecticut Physical Therapy Association; president, Education Committee chair, and Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee chair in the Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy; and the Awards Committee chair and service on several task forces for the APTA.


I am excited to be working on the Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy’s honorary lecture, which I will give at CSM 2019.


What are some of the key opportunities and challenges facing the physical therapy profession?


PTs and PTAs provide a valuable service, and our challenge is that the value is not always recognized or appreciated. Our opportunities to overcome that challenge are by (1) validating that value through high quality evidence, (2) communicating that value through high quality documentation and (3) advocating that value to patients, the health care community and society.

What advice would you give NYPTA members who are new to the profession?


Engage in the profession. Achieving licensure is the minimum threshold for serving patients, and we have a responsibility to continually improve the quality of our services. The best investments in my development have been achieved through participation in district, chapter and national APTA meetings and activities. Those have provided me with wonderful learning and with relationships with mentors and collaborators that have advanced my career.


What is a favorite tip you have that you could share with others in our industry?


Advocate. Advocate to your patients to advance their engagement in the profession of physical therapy. Advocate in your clinic for high quality physical therapy. Advocate to legislators so that they appreciate our value to New York. Advocate to society to engage others in optimizing movement to improve the human experience. We do great things and we need to get the word out so that we are the practitioners of choice for movement and movement problems.


What are you passionate about?


Physical therapy, acute care physical therapy, outcome measures, advocacy, and APTA. And canoeing- lots and lots of canoeing!


What else would you like your fellow NYPTA Members to know about you?


In October I will celebrate the 30th anniversary of my marriage to Ellen Smith, RN, MPH, PhD, a professor of nursing at Utica College. Our sons are Patrick, a computer programmer living in Connecticut and Erik, who is about to embark on a 10 months Rotary Exchange experience in India. I enjoy country living in Clinton, NY and invite my colleagues in NY to visit because there are few things better than watching the sun set while drinking wine on our deck.


I love whitewater, I love canoeing and I have won national championships in open canoe whitewater slalom. I continue to race and to explore rivers in NY, Canada and elsewhere.


What is your favorite app or social media outlet?


Facebook- it’s a great way for me to keep informed about my colleagues across the state and the country.


What is your guilty pleasure?





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