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Unifying Hands in Service: Highlights from the NACR General Meeting

Updated: 4 days ago

The biannual North American and Caribbean Region (NACR) General Meeting, held on April 27th—28th, was a momentous event, with the Jamaica Physiotherapy Association (JPA) graciously hosting it. Physiotherapists from across the region gathered in Kingston, Jamaica's capital, for two days of insightful discussions, impactful presentations, and meaningful connections, marking a significant step forward in our collective mission. This successful meeting is a testament to our dedication and hard work, and should fill us all with a sense of pride and motivation.

Among the esteemed guests were representatives from the World Physiotherapy Team, including Jonathan Kruger, CEO of World Physiotherapy, Heidi Kosakowski, Head of Membership and Policy, and Stacy de Gale, Regional Executive Board Member. The NACR team, a crucial part of the event, was also present, comprising Sibyl Edward, Chair; Jacqueline King, Vice-chair; Jennifer Audette; and Lori Lawrence, Executive Members. These individuals played a vital role in shaping the discussions and decisions. Representatives from member states included Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Guyana, Bermuda, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States, along with observers from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, added to the diverse and vibrant mix.

The General Meeting at the prestigious Jamaica Pegasus commenced with a full day of activities and discussions. A plethora of reports were tabled, covering various aspects such as the Chair's report, Finance, World Physiotherapy operations, and NACR activity report. Valuable insights were shared during the CEO's report from World Physiotherapy, including the organization's evolution and new policies, along with an update on membership growth, as we now have 128 member organizations being a part of WPT, representing over 600,000 physiotherapists globally.

Based on elections held at the 2023 Congress, the new leadership for WPT revealed that

Mike Landry of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association was elected President, and Suh-Fang Jeng of the Taiwan Physical Therapy Association was elected Vice President. This new leadership brings with it a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective, instilling confidence and a sense of security in the future of our profession.

The significance of leadership development and regulatory frameworks became apparent as member organisations shared their reports and engaged in robust discussions. These discussions delved into the specific challenges faced in leadership planning, succession, and regulatory capacity. Identifying future leaders and enhancing regulatory capacity emerged as crucial discussion topics and critical imperatives for the profession's advancement.

During the discussions, JPA's Standard and Ethics Chair, Offniel Lamont, who also serves as the representative for physiotherapy on the Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine, raised the issue of missions and regulatory challenges faced by Jamaica and other small island states. He specifically highlighted the difficulties in maintaining regulatory standards due to limited resources and the need for international support. This discussion sparked widespread consensus among the participants, leading to a collaborative effort to address these concerns and promote adherence to regulatory standards while upholding the dignity of all countries involved.

A Community-Academic Workgroup has been formed to address our regulatory challenges as a testament to our collective commitment. With its primary objective of ensuring adherence to regulatory standards and promoting the dignity of all involved parties, this group will play a crucial role in our profession's future. Their efforts, culminating in the publication of a guidance paper, will pave the way for a policy document on the area after a motion is voted on at the next congress in Tokyo in 2025. This initiative should fill us all with hope and optimism for the future of our profession.

The day ended as the JPA sponsored a vibrant celebration at the local restaurant ROUND SUH, where guests enjoyed live music and Jamaican food. The participants were treated to fantastic entertainment by Gabby Bailey, wife of JPA executive member Mr. Bailey, who played reggae songs from the 1990s utilizing the flute and violin.

Day 2 began with an educational event on physiotherapy in emergency departments. This in-person educational session focused on Physiotherapy in Emergency Departments, and the presenter was Jeff Hartman, PT, DPT, MPH, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health. This session was intense, lasting 5 hours, and included a plethora of information, difficulties, and unique perspectives from throughout the region. There was one point in the day when one could sense doubt, but this was quickly dispelled when the region's representative, Stacey de Gale, spoke and shared her inspiring story about how resilient we are as a region and people, which, combined with the information shared, challenged all who attended to further advocate for the rights of physical therapists (and our role in occupying new spaces within the healthcare landscape). We thank the NACR team and the JPA for organising such an excellent educational programme. The lecture was not only informative but also very topical and motivating. 

As the meeting drew close, the JPA, the gracious host of the event, was thanked for its exemplary organization and hospitality. The JPA, in turn, reiterated its unwavering commitment to promoting the profession of physiotherapy in Jamaica and beyond. It called upon local physiotherapists to join in fulfilling its mission and vision, emphasizing the importance of collective commitment in advancing the profession. This renewed commitment should inspire us all to continue our efforts.

In conclusion, the NACR General Meeting was a successful platform for unity, collaboration, and collective action. Key outcomes included:

  • The formation of a Community-Academic Workgroup to address regulatory challenges

  • A renewed commitment to advancing the profession of physiotherapy in the region.

Let us continue to unite our hands in service, guided by the shared mission of enhancing healthcare standards and promoting the well-being of all.

Prepared by: Offniel Lamont

Editorial Chair

Jamaica Physiotherapy Association (JPA)



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