Looking back and forward with ASHT

Paige Kurtz
Posted by Paige Kurtz, MS, OTR/L, CHT on 07/10/2017

Once upon a time, while I was in OT school, I got a job as an aide at the (then) Indiana Hand Center. I was hired by (then) ASHT President Nancy Cannon. Working near her and many other knowledgeable and talented hand therapists cemented the idea that I wanted to become a hand therapist.

After graduation, I joined ASHT as soon as I could. At the time, joining ASHT was the only way to become a hand therapist, and it was a big deal. New affiliate members had to be out of school for two years to join. “Real” members had a very complicated application process, submitting case studies and examples of their scope of practice prior to the administration of the first CHT exam in 1991. ASHT newsletters were sent out by mail, and the membership directory was printed.

After I took the CHT exam, I could become more involved with ASHT. I helped with many different projects, from publications to the Annual Meeting, and as one opportunity led to another, I became president of ASHT in 2008. I learned so much working behind the scenes and finding out how the organization works. Maybe most importantly, my volunteer experience enriched my life by giving me new experiences and challenges, and wonderful friendships.

I truly believe that ASHT is the member organization that has our career needs and interests at its heart. Promoting the profession is part of both the mission and vision of ASHT. If you believe that it is important for others to know what a hand therapist is, then you understand why it is important to join ASHT.

It is important for physicians and patients to seek a qualified professional who can provide excellence in care.

It is important for insurance companies, nurse case managers and adjustors to understand our skills and services and to reimburse appropriately.

It is important for regulators and politicians to recognize and support us.

It is important to research, publish and disseminate information that helps us provide the best possible care and achieve the best possible outcomes.

And finally, it is important to provide a network for all of us to interact in a community of like-minded professionals.

To me, ASHT is about a dedication to our chosen specialty, benefitting our patients and ourselves in so many ways. I challenge any member reading this to see how you can help volunteer in ASHT. Be part of the future. Find a committee, teach a webinar, join a Journal Club. Going forward, ASHT as a membership organization is only as strong as its members.

Cheers to ASHT for the first 40 years, and best wishes for the next 40 plus!