News & Announcements

Section on Women’s Health Launches New Mission, Vision and Strategic Plan

Watch the President’s Message:

In honor of our 40th anniversary in 2017, we are rolling out new and upgraded membership benefits building on the wonderful feedback we received from the 2016 SOWH Membership Survey and the 18-month organizational study administered by the SOWH Name Change Task Force and Navigate Consulting.

Through these efforts, you’ve told us you most value evidence-based research and practices such as those in our Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy, our discounted education courses, and our ever-growing programming at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting.

The membership survey also confirms that being part of a passionate, professional, and specialized community is vital to you, especially connections made via our PT Locator directory and events. In response, we are improving and expanding even more of these services. Watch for monthly updates throughout 2017!

Most importantly in this celebratory year, SOWH will be enacting a new mission, vision, and strategic plan that simultaneously re-centers on our historical roots and secures our position as a contemporary, innovative organization. These statements demonstrate our continued commitment to both our members and to being a member-driven organization—just as we were when founded by Elizabeth Noble in 1977.

The inspiration for a next-generation mission-vision emerged while the SOWH Board of Directors was crafting a three- to five-year strategic plan. Moving forward, the Section will focus on the following:



Our mission is to advance global excellence in abdominal and pelvic health through evidence-based practice, innovative education, research, and social responsibility.


As a global authority in abdominal and pelvic health, we transform society by empowering professionals and people everywhere.


Join our member-led, collaborative, nonprofit community! We are committed to education, research, and promotion of personalized care in abdominal and pelvic physical therapy.

The need for this shift surfaced organically as the Section grew to nearly 3,000 members and developed a richer cache of member data, rebranding research, and insightful feedback. The board realized it needed to create a brand that clarifies our unique values, attributes, and purpose. Like the world around us, our practice, patients, and members have evolved dramatically in the past four decades, presenting new opportunities and shifting needs and desires. Why should members join us today? How can we make a difference in their lives and those of their patients?

These answers go far beyond a name change for the organization. Our rapidly growing educational offerings—nearly double the number offered in 2016–focus almost exclusively on pelvic and abdominal health physical therapy, as do the most popular contributions for our journal, on-demand learning modules, and conference programming. Analytics from multiple sources show that professionals and consumers alike are reaching out to us specifically for guidance around pelvic, abdominal, and obstetrics physical therapy issues. However, our mission and vision at that time did not clearly reflect our specialty or inclusiveness as it is actually practiced.

The new strategic plan sets the stage for the next exciting decade! Although it identifies six primary goals, all of them are bound by the themes of increasing communications, data-driven decision-making, and service to an increasingly diverse and global physical therapy community.

The Six Goals of the 2016 to 2019-plus Strategic Plan:

  1. Provide multi-level professional education that is excellent, relevant, and diverse.
  2. Conduct effective branding that is supported by timely, clear marketing and communications.
  3. Build community through professional and social networking, and create opportunities for the next generation of leaders.
  4. Promote best practices through practice guidelines.
  5. Develop and implement a rigorous research strategy.
  6. Review our governance structure and practices to become a more strategic board.

Our redefined future actually beckons us back to the roots of our initial creation, when we were known as the APTA Section on Obstetrics and Gynecology. Our latest shift reaffirms that what SOWH “owns” in the physical therapy community is primarily what we treat – pelvic and abdominal health.

I am tremendously proud and grateful for the amount of work achieved by so many volunteers and your elected leaders and staff during the past year and a half. A heartfelt thanks goes to every one of you who shared your opinions and ideas via the membership survey, 2016 town hall meeting, one-on-one interviews with our consultants, and other communications. We could not have accomplished this without your feedback and faith!

In terms of next steps, an overall Program of Work is underway to break down the plan into assigned tasks and duties of committees, task forces, staff, and the board. We welcome your involvement! Please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ashley Watts at if you’d like to participate in any of our projects to improve the world’s pelvic and abdominal health.

Meanwhile, the Name Change Task Force will continue its work toward a potential new name reflective of our distinctive focus on pelvic and abdominal health. The goal is to make a recommendation to membership and APTA in the upcoming year. Please direct any related questions to Name Change Task Force Chair Carrie Pagliano,

With an aligned mission, vision, and strategic plan, I’m confident we are ready for our future and are better positioned to advance excellence through evidence-based practice, innovative education, research, and social responsibility!

If you have any feedback, we want to hear from you. Please email Executive Director at, who will be sharing member communications with the board. Thank you again for your loyalty to the Section and profession. We’re looking forward to being on this exciting journey with you!

AUTHOR: Patricia Wolfe, PT, MS, is president of SOWH. She can be reached at

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