Adrienne Price, Director, Georgia State Board of Physical Therapy; Director on the FSBPT Board of Directors
The roles of an administrator and the administrative staff member have always been fraught with challenges; however, I don’t believe that anyone could have anticipated the types of tests and trials facing those who serve in these roles during a pandemic. Not only were we to continue to organize and manage Board activities in relation to licensing and disciplinary matters, but we had to do it while experiencing the very natural feelings of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty for our futures, both personally and professionally. Our priorities and the methods by which we conduct our business were turned upside down by Executive Orders, social distancing mandates, COVID-19-positive family and colleagues, and an increased reliance on technology. Without warning, we were ushered into brand new territory in the regulatory arena as well as every other aspect of our lives. A tremendous chasm was created, leaving many of us unsure of how to cross it.
To bridge the great divide created by the pandemic, administrators, and administrative staff pivoted to offering board access and services, such as board meeting attendance and applicant interviews, through virtual platforms. Administrators and administrative staff members implemented emergency rules, emergency orders, board decisions, and institutional policy changes that expanded the scope of physical therapy practice for some and temporarily waived or suspended requirements, extended timelines and deadlines, and waived or suspended fees for others. Many of these measures served to improve upon racial and ethnic disparities in some communities by increasing access to care through telehealth, a change that Congress supported in the passing of the CARES ACT, which allowed physical therapists to receive compensation for its use. Through administrative efforts, new graduates were able to achieve full or temporary licensure and subsequently gain employment, securing financial stability for their families.
A plethora of changes commenced, and it was a tremendous amount of work. In spite of it all, administrators and administrative staff members rose to the occasion! You identified any shortcomings and gaps in access to your services, your boards, and other resources and as a result, the chasm that started out so great grew smaller and smaller.
As we remain under the weight of the pandemic, we know that our work is not done. We will continue to be needed to collect and provide data that will help to leverage the use of the profession for the continued improvement of our health care system. We will be needed in the fight to maintain any valuable expansions in scope and eliminate any remaining direct access restrictions. We will be counted on in ways that we cannot foresee. And whereas we have yet to see the full, long-term impact of the pandemic on our roles, one thing is ever so clear: Administrators and administrative staff members you are the bridge over troubled waters. When the decisions are made, it is you who ultimately brings them to fruition. So, pause, contemplate, and then appreciate how critically valuable you are to employing all the measures that come forth. It is you who have significant impact on the mitigation of risks and any negative, long-term consequences that the pandemic has or may create for our regulatory bodies, licensees, physical therapy organizations and affiliates, and the community at large. Without you, the other side of the great divide would remain so far away; but with you, the gap is not too difficult or impossible to cross! Remember, your role provides the structure that is built to span regulatory obstacles. You make a way, sometimes out of no way. You are a bridge over the great divide.
Adrienne D. Price RN, BA, MSN, obtained her Associate of Science in nursing from Macon State College, her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mercer University, and her Master of Science in nursing from the University of Phoenix. As a registered nurse, she practiced in a number of different health care settings including obstetrics, gynecology, hospice and palliative care, pediatrics with a concentration in developmental disabilities, public health, and nursing regulation as a Legal and Disciplinary Nurse Consultant. She has served in roles with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), the County Health Emergency Assistance Resource Team (CHEART), an affiliate of the Public Health Task Force for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) in the North Central Health District, and the Georgia Statewide Opioid Task Force. Adrienne has been with the Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Georgia Office of Secretary of State for fifteen years and has served in her present role as the Executive Director of multiple licensing boards, including the Georgia State Board of Physical Therapy, for eight years. She has been involved with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy as a member of the FSBPT Membership Survey Task Force, a member of the FSBPT Resolutions Committee, the Chair of the FSBPT Re-entry to Practice Task Force, an awardee of the FSBPT Outstanding Service Award in 2018, liaison to several tasks forces and committees and as a member of the FSBPT Board of Directors.
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