Passage of New Law Makes Hawaii Final State to Require Regulation of Physical Therapist Assistants

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Legislation also provides title protection for PTAs and the doctor of physical therapy degree (DPT)

ALEXANDRIA, VA, June 27, 2013 — Today, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed a bill (SB 1074) requiring the licensure of physical therapist assistants (PTA) in the state. Passage of SB 1074 signifies another landmark moment for the physical therapy profession in that all 50 states and the District of Columbia now regulate physical therapist assistants.

SB 1074, which was advocated for by the Hawaii Chapter of APTA (HAPTA), will promote patient safety and quality of care by ensuring that only individuals who have met specific criteria are licensed to act in the capacity of a physical therapist assistant. Prior to passage of SB 1074, Hawaii was the only state in the union that did not provide for the state regulation of PTAs.

"Quality of patient care has always been a core concern that drives APTA and its components," said American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) President Paul A. Rockar Jr, PT, DPT, MS. "We have taken steps through the years to promote and improve standards of practice in the profession, and it is important that state and federal laws work to do the same. Licensure of PTAs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia has been a longtime goal for APTA, and that has now been achieved. Hawaii has made the right move; one that will ensure all patients are being treated by individuals who are licensed to do so. Congratulations to HAPTA on its successful efforts."

In addition to providing for the licensure of PTAs, the new law enacts a number of changes. It establishes title protection both for the regulatory designation "PTA" and for the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) educational degree. The legislation also provides for changes to the composition of the state physical therapy licensing board by eliminating the seat reserved for a physician and replacing it with a seat for a physical therapist assistant.

Enactment of SB 1074 comes on the heels of Governor Abercrombie's approval of another bill (SB 1075) on April 22, which makes continuing education a requirement for physical therapists seeking to renew their licenses to practice in Hawaii. Beginning with the December 31, 2016, licensure renewal cycle, physical therapists must obtain at least 30 approved continuing competence units in each 2-year license renewal period. HAPTA also advocated heavily for enactment of this new law.

"HAPTA is pleased to witness the passage of SB 1074, paving the way for PTA licensure in the state of Hawaii. We are grateful for the testimony and presence at hearings by representatives from the PTA and PT community, including HAPTA member, Herb Yee, PT, who put his ever-consistent and measured talents to the effort," Ann Frost, PT, HAPTA legislative chair, remarked. "HAPTA would also like to acknowledge the support from the Queen's Medical Center, Ho'okahi Leo, and the Hawaii Occupational Therapy Association. We look forward to the smooth crafting and passage of language by the State Physical Therapy Board that will make PTA licensure a reality.

"This milestone represents the value of okage sama de, which essentially recognizes that no person can accomplish anything without the help of many others," said HAPTA President Art Lum, PT, MA. "I thank the HAPTA legislative team, our lobbyist Robert Ogawa, the governor and the elected officials, the Kapi'olani Community College PTA Program, the Physical Therapy Licensing Board, our membership, past HAPTA board members, and others who contributed. E pupukahi (Be united in thought). We stayed together as one team, moving forward for what is best for HAPTA and physical therapy in Hawaii. Mahalo nui loa."

The Hawaii Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association is a professional membership association serving approximately 298 active and retired physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy.

The American Physical Therapy Association represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide. Learn more about conditions physical therapists can treat and find a physical therapist in your area at Consumers are encouraged to follow us on Twitter (@MoveForwardPT) and Facebook.

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