If you are a fitness professional who wants to maximize your experience, increase your revenue and interact with the medical community, then you need to establish medical fitness connections.

The medical community connection is absolutely necessary to provide the highest quality, safest, and most progressive services for our clients and patients. The synergy between the fitness professional and the medical professional is critical to a client's outcome. Developing those relationships is not easy, but if you are willing to go the extra mile to learn and study, it can be done with a little energy and focus. There are some key factors that must take place to achieve those positive relationships.

With the changes in the nation's health care system, coverage for medical care is dwindling. In fact, the number of allowable physical therapist visits per condition is much less than it used to be. Fitness professionals have a great opportunity to step up and work closely with physical therapists to implement training plans or rehabilitative programs that address a patient's specific needs. In addition, physicians need resources to assist with lifestyle changes and wellness programs. How can fitness professionals get ready for this shift and position themselves to make the most of an incredible opportunity?

After years of effort, including phone calls, letters, personal visits, and engagement within the community, there has been success in achieving medical referrals and reciprocation with medical professionals. In my personal experience, I've found that establishing a connection can come when you least expect it.

During a college basketball game, a physician returned a call to the local hospital. In order for her to make the call, she crouched down in her seat and nearly tucked herself behind the seat in front of her, which happened to be my seat. I heard many details, a plan of action, and the doctor's name. I had sent her letters seeking medical releases but had never met her. At the next timeout, I stood, turned around and introduced myself. The interaction helped put my face to a name she had seen and helped me establish a stronger connection with her.

As we prepare for this shift in the industry, how should fitness professionals position themselves to work with medical professionals? What do they need to know about scope of practice, networking, referrals and reciprocation? What do they need to know about seeking medical releases? What skill sets, specialties and education should a new fitness professional pursue to help further connections with medical professionals?

Get answers to these questions and engage in problem-solving discussions with other industry professionals during my session, "Establishing the Medical/Fitness Connection," from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Club Industry Conference and Exposition.

Wendy A. Williamson is nationally recognized as a leading educator, writer, author, and consultant. She owns Williamson Wellness Center, Wichita, KS, and is a frequent lecturer for national conventions and trade shows. In 2005 and 2006, the American Council on Exercise recognized Dr. Williamson as a leading personal trainer in the country. She serves as a clinical rotation site for physician assistant students and is an adjunct instructor at Wichita State University.