If you know Dr. John Baker, you might be aware of the enormous impact his energy and passion for physical therapy is having on the profession. At the very least, the impressive list of credentials and initials on his business card should clue you in. The man is dedicated, and tireless, and his list of accomplishments continues to grow.
Dr. Baker was just re-elected Chair of the Physical Therapy Board of Examiners in Maryland for a second consecutive term. And although I have always assumed that the position is prestigious and well deserved, I really had no idea what responsibilities this job requires.
So I sat down with John and I asked him:
Sue Paul: Congratulations on your re-election John! To be honest, I really know nothing about your position. I know that you are largely unavailable on one Tuesday a month, but I really don’t know where you go or what you do. Can you explain it to me?
John Baker: The third Tuesday of the month is very busy. The Maryland Physical Therapy Board of Examiners open session officially starts at 1pm. This session is open to the public. We discuss questions that licensees or other interested parties have sent to the Board. Someone may ask for an opinion or interpretation regarding a particular statute or licensing requirement. We have various committees reporting about projects they are working on. We currently have five committees addressing the following issues: continuing education, legislation, dry-needling, continued competency, & telehealth. We also review and vote on courses that one of the members of the continued education committee thinks we might want to deny.
Sue Paul: So that’s the part of the meeting that the public can attend, right? What goes on at your meeting once the doors are closed?
John Baker: When the doors close we move into closed session. We discuss investigations, therapists we need to follow up on based their initial or renewal applications, and other sensitive information specific to a licensee. This takes most of our time.
Sue Paul: I bet that gets interesting! What is the most challenging part of being on the Board? Is it hard to be Chair of the Board?
John Baker: The members of this Board are “movers and shakers” in the Maryland PT community. No wall flowers here! That is one reason why the governor appointed them. Everyone has different personalities and skills that they bring to the table. Making sure everyone is heard, summarizing and developing consensus, and keeping things moving with a very large agenda can be a challenging task for me to do. I am usually exhausted after four or five hours of it.
Sue Paul: I am sure this position has been an education. It must open your eyes to see how easily errors in practice can be made, and how seriously the Board considers these actions. What advice to you have for physical therapists out there?
John Baker: Know COMAR (Code of Maryland Regulations). Know the Maryland statue and law. It is a little book available online at Maryland PT Board of Examiners website. We see unintentional errors born from ignorance all the time, but we also see abuses and malpractice within the profession as well. If you are a good therapist with honest intentions, adherence to the COMAR regulations will ensure that you provide appropriate care within the guidelines of your professional license.
Sue Paul: Has it made you a better clinician?
John Baker: Absolutely! I know more clearly what is expected of therapists and what can happen if you are not compliant with Maryland regulations.
Sue Paul: Well John, it sounds like your trips to Baltimore once a month are both rewarding and exhausting. I guess I should be grateful to have a business partner who is so knowledgeable about keeping a physical therapy practice both law-abiding and ethical, particularly ours. I feel like I should bake you a cake or throw a party in honor of your re-election.
But then again, maybe a resounding “WAY TO GO, JOHN!” would suffice?