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  • APTA Board: 'Scope of Practice' Defined and Association Role Clarified

    The physical therapy scope of practice does encompass the relationship of professional, jurisdictional, and personal scope of practice, but it is not a laundry list of activities. This was the conclusion of the task force that developed and presented a definition of the term "scope of practice" that the Board adopted during its April meeting. Noting that "while professional scope of practice is broad, actual scope of practice is unique for each individual," the statements supporting the definition indicate that it is intended to clarify APTA’s role and guide the association in leading and responding to scope of practice inquiries.


    Scope of practice has 3 components: Professional, jurisdictional, and personal.

    • The professional scope of practice of physical therapy is defined as practice that is grounded in the profession’s unique body of knowledge, supported by educational preparation, based on a body of evidence, and linked to existing or emerging practice frameworks. APTA shall take the role as the primary organization for determining whether particular practices fall within the professional scope of practice of physical therapy. APTA shall prepare such determinations in collaboration with appropriate stakeholders. APTA shall also be a resource for stakeholders to address inquiries regarding jurisdictional and personal scope of practice for physical therapists.
    • Jurisdictional scope of practice is established by the practice act governing the specific physical therapist’s license, and the rules adopted pursuant to that act.
    • Personal scope of practice consists of activities undertaken by an individual physical therapist that are situated within a physical therapist’s unique body of knowledge where the individual is educated, trained, and competent to perform that activity.

    Of note is that the Scope of Practice Task Force agreed that such a definition should not include a list of activities, as it would be hard to maintain an accurate and inclusive list. The task force also concluded that a further exploration of the definition of the physical therapist’s professional scope of practice in particular (as opposed to the term “scope of practice”) as determined by the House of Delegates is needed. This Board position can be forwarded to the House as part of that discussion.

    The task force additionally pointed to the physical therapist’s role in the health care system, which was beyond its charge but in need of broad-based, forward-thinking approaches that can evolve as health care systems do. The task force suggested looking beyond the United States to international colleagues with experience and expertise.

    Inquiries about whether new or emerging areas are part of the physical therapy scope of practice will be addressed by a staff-guided review process that the Board adopted along with the definition.

    To see the full discussion on this and other topics from the April Board of Directors meeting, watch the archived livestream of all open sessions.


    • Excellent efforts by apta

      Posted by Dhrumil Patel on 5/2/2014 5:53 AM

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