A Quick Round of Professional Compare-sy's

Today (Sept. 30th) is the final day to renew your CPA membership before late fees start to kick in. While I have no interest in being a CPA shill, I will say that I've become acutely aware of the power and value of a strong unifying voice and advocacy group at both the national and provincial levels, and when you join CPA (and automatically your respective provincial association), you are contributing to our professional ability to advocate on important issues that affect us all. Advocacy and leadership was a dominant theme during a lot of my clinician conversations during the Physio Moves Canada project this summer and fall, being raised literally across the country, so it's clearly an important issue to many. More interestingly are the conversations that go something like this: I am not a member of CPA/provincial branch because I don't find they do enough for me, and then later on: we need more people to be members of the CPA/provincial branches so they can do more for us. There's a bit of a weird chicken-egg proposition there - should we wait to join until we see stronger leadership and advocacy? Or should we join to provide the resources needed for stronger leadership and advocacy? For what it's worth, I tend to be in the latter camp but ultimately it's a personal decision and I respect arguments on both sides. But in the interest of ensuring informed decisions, I figure today is maybe a good opportunity to do a bit of a comparison exercise against some relevant other professional groups for those who are still on the fence.

First, I've managed to get membership number for CPA (PT), CAOT (OT), CCA (Chiropractors), CNA (Nursing), and CMA (medicine), and in addition I've tracked down the available data on how many total full active practitioners there are of each group in Canada. So to start, how do we compare in terms of percent engagement?

From this table we can see that CPA has achieved about 55% engagement (the numbers aren't likely precise) out of all eligible full-practicing PTs in Canada. While that pales in comparison to Medicine at 70% and Chiropractic at a whopping 92%, it is better than our colleagues in OT at 46% (who, when we look back at my prior post on attrition, appear to be in worse shape than we are on a number of metrics), and nursing at 45%. That said, but absolute numbers nurses still easily take this case by virtue of sheer numbers.

From what I've learned of PTs over the years, I know that the Chiropractic comparison tends to strike a nerve, and from this table we can already see that almost every DC in Canada is also a member of the CCA, which is quite impressive. But, in absolute numbers, they're still a smaller group so how do they appear to be such a powerful advocacy voice? For that, I did a bit more sleuthing and tracked down the cost of membership for CCA and have compared that to CPA. For this I'm going to use the Ontario numbers (since that's the context I know) but it's likely safe to assume the numbers are similar across the country. And before anyone accuses me of giving away any insider secrets, rest assured that both of the numbers I'm about to show are openly available to the public.  Here are the ones for CCA. And here are the ones for CPA.

So, what did I find?

Yes, you're reading that right. Including HST, our Chiropractic colleagues pay over 350% more in annual dues here in Ontario than do we. And these costs do not include the cost of malpractice insurance, which is not publicly available for the chiros through their Canadian Chiropractic Protective Association, but I'd bet dollars to donuts it's also considerably higher for DCs than it is for PTs. You can do the math, but compared to PT, the Chiropractic association has far higher engagement, a smaller overall membership to manage (so presumably lower operational overhead), and at least through dues they have higher annual revenues.

Again, my intention in showing this is to give my PT colleagues a sense of, frankly, how good we've got it. Again, I'm not trying to push membership, I get exactly zero kickback, I'm not on the CPA payroll, I'm an independent academic who also happens to be a passionate physio that harbours a mild concern that if we don't increase our engagement we risk continuing to lose our share of what we still have in the great pantheon of healthcare. Maybe these numbers speak to you, and maybe they don't. Maybe you disagree with the direction CPA is heading, or maybe you're simply ambivalent or on the fence. Regardless, these decisions are your own and I make no judgment on the validity thereof. But if you were wondering, if you are perhaps one of those on the fence, maybe this information will help you make a more informed decision about CPA membership.