Physical Therapists Receive Clinical Specialist Recertification

ALEXANDRIA, VA, September 23, 2009 — The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) announces that 243 physical therapists were awarded recertification in 2009 as board-certified clinical specialists. 

To date, more than 1,900 board-certified clinical specialists have been recertified. Those who were recognized recently completed the requirements to become board-certified specialists in one or more of the following specialty areas: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, Geriatrics, Neurology, Orthopaedics, Pediatrics, and Sports.

"Clinical specialists have demonstrated [their] ability to meet challenges by achieving the highest level of recognition for clinical practitioners," said Patricia Scheets, PT, DPT, NCS, keynote speaker at the Opening Ceremony for the Recognition of Clinical Specialists at the APTA 2009 Combined Sections Meeting. According to Scheets, "Clinical specialists possess the perfect combination of knowledge and understanding of external evidence coupled with clinical skills, judgment, and experience that is needed to raise a generation of evidence-based physical therapists."

To be eligible for recertification, candidates must hold a current certification from ABPTS and meet minimum eligibility requirements, including a current physical therapy license and a minimum number of direct patient care hours since the date of the most recent certification.

Candidates must complete a competency assessment to achieve recertification. Candidates are recertified either by completing a written examination or by completing a Professional Development Portfolio (PDP). The written examination for each specialty area consists of approximately 200 questions and is developed and administered through the National Board of Medical Examiners. 

The PDP is a documentation of professional development activities related to specialty practice. Candidates may also receive PDP points for patient care experience that is beyond the minimum eligibility requirement for recertification. Portfolio requirements vary depending upon the specialty area.

The APTA House of Delegates established specialist certification as a mechanism to formally recognize physical therapists who have demonstrated advanced clinical knowledge and skills. Since the program's inception in 1985 there has been a steady and substantial increase in the number of physical therapists who pursue specialist certification each year. 

ABPTS was established by APTA as the governing body that awards certification to physical therapists who meet approved requirements. ABPTS oversees the physical therapy clinical specialist certification and recertification program and awards certificates to physical therapists meeting approved requirements.

Physical therapists are highly-educated, licensed health care professionals who can help patients reduce pain and improve or restore mobility -- in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications. APTA represents more than 72,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Its purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of individuals through the advancement of physical therapist practice, education, and research. In most states, patients can make an appointment directly with a physical therapist, without a physician referral. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at Consumers can access the Online Directory of Certified Clinical Specialists in Physical Therapy to locate a board-certified clinical specialist at Additional consumer information is available at