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Q&A with New Ethics Chair, Dr. Tony Grillo

Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Grillo earned his undergraduate and Master's degrees in Physical Therapy at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. He subsequently earned his DPT at Virginia Commonwealth University and completed an orthopedic manual therapy fellowship at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. He has over 15 years of experience, working at a private practice in Williamsburg, Virginia and in Charlottesville, VA.      

In an interview with Dr. Grillo, he discussed his new role with the VPTA as the Ethics Chair and the current climate of the Physical Therapy Industry.

Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Grillo earned his undergraduate and Master's degrees in Physical Therapy at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. He subsequently earned his DPT at Virginia Commonwealth University and completed an orthopedic manual therapy fellowship at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. He has over 15 years of experience, working at a private practice in Williamsburg, Virginia and in Charlottesville, VA.      

In an interview with Dr. Grillo, he discussed his new role with the VPTA as the Ethics Chair and the current climate of the Physical Therapy Industry.

Why did you want to become a PT?

Originally, I wanted to go into sports medicine or athletic training; however, a family friend who was an athletic trainer at the time talked me out of that and recommended Physical Therapy school instead. Her rationale was that Physical Therapy offers a more diverse opportunity and scope of practice. She was absolutely right!

How has the industry changed since you started practicing?

There are definitely more Universities offering Physical Therapy programs and with greater competition than when I was in school.  The scope of practice and breadth of interventions provided by PTs has grown substantially and will continue to do so as research and new treatments emerge. Overall, I believe this is reflected in the quality of education and where our profession is heading as a whole.

What does your role of Ethics Chair Entail?

 The Ethic Committee provides several educational and professional resources which are available online at the VPTA website. My roles within the VPTA and this committee (as well as our duties as practicing clinicians) are to promote best practice and provide an avenue for patients and/or clinicians who want to discuss ethical concerns. This may stem from something they've seen, experienced, or occurred in their practice or treatment. Unfortunately, there are a number of ethical (and legal) concerns occurring in clinical practice on a daily basis and clinicians and patients should feel comfortable discussing these concerns when they realize there is a problem.

Why should people get involved with the VPTA?

It is extremely important to get involved in the VPTA and the APTA because these are our professional organizations. They are the face of our profession at the state, national, and international level.  They advocate for our profession and fight battles to protect our profession, on issues many physical therapist are not aware of.   A lot of what we do as Physical Therapist and how we treat patients on a daily basis is being altered or taken away from challenges posed by new restrictions and/or other professions. VPTA and APTA are organizations that physically and financially advocate for us so we can push forward and protect our profession. 

Unfortunately, there are a growing number of other professions who claim to offer treatments and services similar to those done by PTs.  This tends to bring ambiguity to our profession and the image we have to the public and healthcare professionals.  We need to do a better job of advocating and defending who we are and what we do. Each physical therapist owes it to themselves, their profession, and to each other to give back in some way; be it with time, their expertise, or financial contributions. 

How would you like to see the industry move forward?

I would like to see more movement with direct access and increase our role as primary provider for musculoskeletal conditions. I feel this is an area we have expertise in - far and above many other professionals who are currently providing primary level care for this condition.  The public needs to know we are musculoskeletal experts.

What do you advocate for in Physical Therapy?

I'm a big advocate for increased development and use of residency and fellowship programs. I would like to see these programs be a required portion of our education, to some extent in the future. I feel they're an extremely valuable means of specialized education and bring the quality of practicing clinician to their highest caliber. Clinicians who have gone through residency and fellowship are easily identifiable in their commitment to practice, clinical skill, advocacy for the profession, research, and are generally a huge part of modeling the profession, that I believe, we want to be.

Why did you get involved with the VPTA?

I got involved with the VPTA for a number of reasons. First, for the opportunity to be a part of the decision making at the local and state level.  Second, I want to know firsthand the issues the profession faces and what are being done to improve them.  Finally, I want to be a part of the solution. These issues can be clinical, political, or related to scope of practice, etc.  I believe it's extremely important to know how the healthcare landscape continues to change, what our role is as physical therapists, and what we can do to guide the profession to be what we want it to be. 

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