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  • From the House of Delegates: Legislative Campaign to Transition State Licensure Designation to 'DPT' to Begin in 2025

    Ten years can seem like a long while—unless you're preparing for a national campaign to change the way an entire country refers to your profession. For APTA's House of Delegates (House), that's the appropriate timeframe to make preparations for a nationwide shift from "PT" to "DPT" as the state licensure designator for all physical therapists in all US jurisdictions.

    Delegates to the 2014 House session held June 9-11 in Charlotte, North Carolina, voted to adopt an APTA position that connects the dots between the association's support of the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) as the profession’s entry-level educational degree and the regulatory designation PT licensees are legally allowed to use to denote state licensure. The changeover would begin in January 2025 and will require a significant amount of legwork at both the national and chapter levels. Many states will need to enact state legislation to amend their state PT licensure law to change the licensure designation from "PT" to "DPT" for licensees.

    The current state licensure designation for all physical therapists, regardless of degree earned, is PT. "Most agree that allowing DPT as the state licensure designation is inevitable and that it is just a matter of time," according to a supporting statement that accompanied the motion. Authors of the supporting statement describe a "window of opportunity" over the next few years, and state that "working together to accomplish what this motion proposes can be a rallying and unifying focus within the profession and will send a clear external message. The uniform state regulatory designation of DPT will affirm that an entire profession is practicing at a doctoring level."

    While state chapters will need to wait until 2025 to initiate any legislative or regulatory change, APTA will immediately begin working out a roadmap for the achievement of this goal. This work will likely involve the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), APTA chapters, state legislative leaders, and other stakeholders. The start date to launch the legislative change in 2025 is an acknowledgement of the time needed to prepare for a uniform change in all US jurisdictions, as well as to time to reach a “critical mass” in which the vast majority of practitioners will have obtained a DPT degree.

    The regulatory designation would share an acronym with the doctoral educational degree in physical therapy, but would not substitute for the degree itself, according to the support statement. ."No one is proposing granting degrees unearned," according to the statement. "A unified regulatory designation of DPT demonstrates to our profession and the public the shared competence of the entire profession and the exemplary history of accomplishments in education, research, and practice over the last few decades to arrive at the point where we are recognized as practicing at the doctoring level."

    APTA members can view videos of all open sessions of the 2014 House of Delegates online. Final language for all actions taken by the House will be available by September after the minutes have been approved.


    • So, is the APTA proposing that in 2025 all PTs will be a licensed DPT, even if their highest PT degree is a BS or MS? Or, are they proposing that everyone who was educated pre-DPT has to go back to school to continue being licensed?

      Posted by Renee on 7/10/2014 9:12 PM

    • Will those of us who graduated circa 1981 be. "Grandfathered" in or put out to pasture ? I would have 44 yes experience by then; I'd say that's worth "DPT" (Without the student loans of course) !!!

      Posted by Stewart Johnson, PT on 7/11/2014 2:11 AM

    • The intent of the position is that beginning in 2025 states would move to change their state licensure designator for all licensed physical therapists from “PT” to “DPT,” regardless of the educational degree obtained. This would not confer a DPT degree on PTs who haven’t completed a doctor of physical therapy education program, it would not mandate that PTs earn a DPT to keep their licenses, nor would it change licensure requirements.

      Posted by News Now Staff on 7/11/2014 12:34 PM

    • Don't like, don't agree.....I am sure there are others in my age range who have BS or MPT as their terminal academic degree and plan to continue in clinical practice beyond 2025 And do NOT plan to pay for DPT letters (as in do NOT plan to pursue tDPT school) the change to DPT terminology will be very confusing to the public....... Booooo

      Posted by Kathy White on 7/11/2014 1:58 PM

    • Why would it matter if we change to DPT...We still are not allowed to put DR. in front of our names! APTA is and has done nothing more than cause the cost of getting into the PT field to skyrocket, yet I am not allowed to be called a doctor, and my pay definitely has not increased. But my loans are equal to a MD/DO. So, APTA please explain what benefit any of us have had with a DPT change.

      Posted by Courtney on 7/11/2014 4:51 PM

    • Not sure what I think of this. I know the profession as a whole is pushing for DPT to be the norm now. Initially when this started about a decade ago I believe the profession thought it would increase or broaden our priveledges, ie allow ordering of imaging studies, eliminate certifications, etc. It really hasn't panned out that way so far. In fact in my part of the country it has only increased student debt without an increase in pay and hasn't really gained the "DPTs" any more priviledges. If these priviledges are gained than it would be worth furthering my education from MPT to DPT, but until then it just isn't worth the cost after close to 17 years of experience. Just my .02 cents. I'm not slamming the idea though.

      Posted by Mike Burgess on 7/11/2014 5:11 PM

    • Where will this leave PTAs? The education gap is too large.

      Posted by Angela on 7/11/2014 5:14 PM

    • Can anyone explain the "real" meaning (how this will change our day-to-day functions) of "DPT as the state licensure designator" since it "would not confer a DPT degree on PTs who haven't completed a doctor of physical therapy education program" and "it would not mandate that PTs earn a DPT to keep their licenses, nor would it change licensure requirements." So what exactly DOES it mean??? I think we need more details, not more about what is does NOT mean, but what it does mean! Does anyone really know???

      Posted by Donna Gorsch on 7/11/2014 5:29 PM

    • Very perturbed by this decision. Having a DPT degree does not guarantee you are smarter or a better therapist, but paying over $100,000 to have that exta education and clinical experience to help separate myself and become a better PT should continue to account for something. Giving away the title of DPT to people whom did not earn it is absurd, whether they are an amazing PT or not. I could have done 3yrs and got my Masters and saved tons of money. With this decision, it makes me regret obtaining a DPT if it does not help to separate me clinically but has given me the financial burden to carry

      Posted by Josh on 7/11/2014 5:44 PM

    • The way things are going with insurance reimbursement and use of lesser/non degreed professionals performing our "not medically necessary" services I question if there will be a PT profession in 2025.

      Posted by Scott on 7/11/2014 6:04 PM

    • Although there will be a vast majority of DPT's in approximately 10 years, I think it would place PT's who have continued further to get their DPT's in an unfair situation. How can a certificate, BS, or MS PT be a DPT without the credits earned? * I think it would be best to just leave it just the way it is right now.

      Posted by PT to DPT on 7/11/2014 6:14 PM

    • I am already confused about what is 'Grandfathered" means, Surely I will be guilty to take the letters "DPT" without taking the tDPT courses, and which is meaningless and worthless for the people who took the tDPT.

      Posted by ELANGO KALIAMOORTHY on 7/11/2014 6:31 PM

    • Though I do understand the reasoning behind the idea, I do feel a bit aggravated by it at the same time. As a MS, PT with near 13 years experience, I am finding that the DPT designation doesn't hold as much value as a PT with a BS or a MS who has been practicing for several years. "Doctor" doesn't mean anything other than a title (which PTs don't even use), it has no effect on pay rate, and we have seen no change in ability to order diagnostic testing, etc. The new graduates still need experience to figure out how to appropriately treat their clients, and often learn a great deal from more experienced PTs with a BS or a MS. I don't think it is necessary to change the overall licensing designation to DPT. Leave us all licensed as "PT," and spend time and money on more important issues - please!

      Posted by Jacquie on 7/11/2014 9:42 PM

    • Obviously I pay all these APTA dues over 25 years for my own members and colleagues in the house of delegates to throw experienced PT's with a BS degree out to the pasture. I think this is crazy. I bet most of the folks who voted on this are DPT's who work for universities. Sometimes I wonder if apprenticeship programs are just fine.

      Posted by Ray on 7/11/2014 9:44 PM

    • I have 21 years experience as a BSPT and chose to obtain my masters and tDPT . I did not spend 100000$ to do it. I am proud to continue my education... Which is required by our PT code of conduct. I want to be the best PT I can be AND help further my profession. The future of our profession is moving toward a primary care structure. In order to be prepared we must learn more than we were taught in our BS programs or in ceu courses. If not insurers may limit reimbursement to us.

      Posted by Dee PT on 7/11/2014 10:29 PM

    • If DPT doesn't mean "Doctor" of Physical Therapy, what would it mean. Makes no sense. How about APTA work on getting the "Doctors" of Physical Therapy the respect ,privileges and income we deserve.

      Posted by Jerry Yarborough,PT, DPT on 7/12/2014 12:34 AM

    • The APTA has not a clue what they are doing. They are so out of touch with what is going on in the field it's upsurd. Sometimes they should just leave things alone!!!!!

      Posted by Richard on 7/12/2014 10:04 AM

    • I think this is a good motion to advance the profession forward. However, given the concerns stated above by various readers, the APTA should likely provide additional specifics regarding how this will be implemented. Probably one of the biggest concerns is "grandfathering" of degrees (or titles) unearned. No PT with a a sub-doctoral degree should be subject to obtaining the DPT designation. There is no reason why these PTs can't be told to work on obtaining a tDPT over the next 10 years (essentially they will have TEN whole years to chip away an obtain this degree). It is essential in advancing the profession and bridging the education gap. If you went to school several decades ago and only obtained a BS, there is no question there is a education gap compared to the education of today. Lets not "water down" the accomplishments of education. My message to APTA: ** Uphold high standards and transcend mediocrity **

      Posted by David Ravnikar -> ?MQ^DN on 7/12/2014 1:27 PM

    • I am a PT, not a DPT. Other therapists who have sacrificed their time and money should only be able to use DPT, unless I am grandfathered in. Either grandfather me in as a Doctor in Physical Therapy (DPT), or leave it alone. If I am not grandfathered in as a DPT I should not be able to use DPT.

      Posted by Dave on 7/12/2014 2:00 PM

    • Just to be clear - no one is going to be put out out to pasture. No one will have to go back to get a DPT degree. No one will have to pay anything. And there will not be any new licensure requirements. The only thing that changes is that in 2025 ALL physical therapists will be able to use the initials 'DPT' to denote that they are licensed to practice physical therapy in their state. That's it.

      Posted by Jason on 7/12/2014 2:48 PM

    • It still doesn't make sense to me. Under the APTA vision, in 2025, any PT, regardless of degree earned, will be a DPT by licensure, even if not by degree. So, a PT could be DPT, MSPT, or DPT, DPT (following the licensure-degree convention)? The practice is physical therapy, the license should be physical therapist.

      Posted by Renee Cordrey -> =IX]AH on 7/12/2014 9:22 PM

    • This doesn't make sense to physical therapists, it doesn't make sense to the public, it hopefully won't make sense to our legislators either. We are physical therapists, period. Futher self promotion of this profession can only come from proving the value of our services, not by receiving more or different letters or titles.

      Posted by Connie Posigian PT, OMPT on 7/13/2014 12:26 AM

    • I agree. The push for the DPT has done nothing but put more money in the pockets of the academia institutions. As the need for higher education has gone up, our reimbursement continues to go down and now we are frequently considered "specialists" by most insurance companies because we have our doctorate so the co-pay is high. I have a BS and will never see the benefit to getting the DPT. A DPT has no more autonomy than I do and 20+ years of experience in the field has done more to teach me than any book would so I sincerely hope this push for licensure is not going to threaten my desire to continue practicing.

      Posted by kari hutton on 7/13/2014 11:24 AM

    • @kari - this will not impede yours or anyone's ability to practice. It also is not a push for licensure. All it does is change the state licensure designation from 'PT' to 'DPT' for all physical therapists, regardless of whether they received their BS, MS, or DPT degree.

      Posted by Meg on 7/13/2014 5:12 PM

    • I agree with Angela. The gap between new grad PTA's and new grad DPT's is very large. Shouldn't we also consider our PTA colleagues educational advancement?

      Posted by John on 7/13/2014 10:17 PM

    • To me, this is completely frivolous, especially when we are starting down the barrel of even further regulation in the way of value-based modifiers. I would much rather the APTA spend time and resources fighting the over-regulation of PQRS, FLR, and now value-based modifiers. I'm sick and tired of jumping through hoops for no apparent reason. PQRS is a complete waste of time. Who knows what CMS is doing with all of the FLR data since they can't even seem to get claims processed correctly. And now value-based modifiers? Where does it end?

      Posted by Robert on 7/13/2014 11:19 PM

    • There has been talk of advancing the PTA degree to a 4yr degree. I understand the need for more coursework, however we have turned away many new PT's because of academia's greed -- now PTA's will follow suit. Entry level and projected income does not match student loan debts. And a longer education does not guarantee quality care or even better entry level clinical performance!

      Posted by Christina on 7/13/2014 11:59 PM

    • From Winona Minnesota we continue to see shifts in what is driving our profession in our small outpt rehab facility. We have more referrals than ever but each pt comes with more strings attatched to care including preauth required, fewer visits allowed and more often pts not willing to come up with their part (deductibles and copays that have gone up). What our profession really needs is to focus on... *How can we meet the growing PT needs of the public in an efficient cost effective way? *How can our PT profession be part of the solution of limited medical dollars and cut costs of medical overall? *How can we as a profession stay a competitive and a cost effective option in the Western Medicine model of care? DPT or no DPT behind our names...REALLY, THIS IS OUR GREAT DEBATE? the most important thing for me everyday IS GREAT PATIENT OUTCOMES IN AS FEW VISITS AS POSSIBLE...New Graduate mindset has not been pt directed, it is much more "what am I going to get out of having a DPT". Physical Therapy is one of the greatest professions in Western Medicine and I consider us the bridge between growing "alternative medicines" and traditional Western Medicine. Education is ongoing I understand but for me clinical focus is where I put my educational dollars and really feel this has paid off for my patients, my efficiency in the clinic, and why I have a constant influx of patients who by word of mouth have been referred from prior patients. What I do not see with 75% of new grads the past 5 years is passion for their profession, passion for pt care, it is as if they are burned out before they even start. SAD...and pts do precieve this. DPT or no DPT letters we all have the same job and if you do not love what you are doing and do not strive to be excellent at it you are weighing down our profession. Physical Therapy as a profession is getting the squeeze from all sides, the expense of DPT programs are not helping.

      Posted by Cindy Teske, PT, Cert MLT, Cert Strain Counterstra on 7/14/2014 8:32 AM

    • I am in the same boat as many, BS PT graduating 18 yrs ago and practicing at the highest level, completing above and beyond the CEU requirements of my state. I have considered and then rejected the tDPT as the cost was extreme and frankly the DPTs that are coming out need just as much mentoring as the BS grads from year past. It is too confusing to the public as well...a PT is a PT is a PT. Add the extra letters if you want, but it makes no sense unless you can actually do more.

      Posted by Lara on 7/14/2014 8:40 AM

    • this is the dumbest and biggest waste of money i have ever seen. half the time people still don't know what we do but everyone wants to run around and be called a doctor. instead of wasting money on a name change how about we remain unified under PT. then make strides to get other professionals and the public to better recognize our skill sets. also, we should be better directing our new PT and PTA grads into CEUs that are essential to their everyday practice so that we can continue to be essential to the medical team. just my 2 cents...

      Posted by willie b, PT on 7/14/2014 8:47 AM

    • Regarding the GAP between the PTA and DPT. Happening all ready, for profit educational PTA programs see the $ signs, and are pushing starting on line education degrees for a BS PTA. Wonder what acronym will be handed and tacked on for them in the future? I have had 43 years experience as a clinical PT, supervising students from many universities , and see the value of higher academic standards over the years as far as the preparedness of students entering the field, but do not think that all the time and effort involved in making these letter changes is necessary. Having these letters behind our names of DPT will NEVER affect reimbursement in the future. Especially Medicare does not look at this! Doesn't it get old hearing year after year about the cap. Our recognition by the public comes everyday from the PTs who are improving client functional outcomes in real life, not by out appearance as wearing white lab coats.

      Posted by Bill, PT... on 7/14/2014 10:48 AM

    • As a BS PT of 41 years, I won't be affected by the changes in 2025, except maybe as a patient. I don't feel that it is appropriate to use the designation DPT unless one has earned the degree. It somehow sounds dishonest and misleading.

      Posted by Mary on 7/14/2014 11:32 AM

    • By the above comments, it appears that the priorities of APTA leadership may not be representative of the greater PT world. I'm looking forward to their reply to the many concerns expressed by their members. And for the record, as a PT administrator for 25 yrs, I share the sentiment of many above that the primary recipients of any benefit of the DPT transition have been the universities. I have hired hundreds of PTs over my career and have seen no clinical advantage from my DPT hires as compared to my earlier hires, but I have heard numerous and very unfortunate stories of massive debt loads placed upon the shoulders of many of my DPTs. Most recently, a new grad with $185,000 in outstanding student loans. APTA needs to place more emphasis on this reality. It is serving no one.

      Posted by DQ on 7/14/2014 12:03 PM

    • Well now. Having read every comment thus far, I'm thinking, "dejavu, all over again". I wrote an op-ed piece over 35 years ago to a rehab recruitment monthly paper - no longer in existence - expressing many of these exact comments. The one opinion I wrote stating that the primary beneficiary of the then nascent push towards the DPT degree as the future and necessary path for our profession was academia, engendered a gargantuan amount of flak from those I knew in the P.T. academic world. As a proud member of our profession for over 52 years - still in clinical practice - I echo the complaints and criticisms of the contributors to this discussion. I do have tremendous sympathy for those many DPTs who are and will remain truly burdened by student debt. However, I do agree with those who blame our misguided and ridiculously out of touch APTA for the promotion of the DPT policy, while simultaneously encouraging and promoting the academicians in this unfortunate path. Way back in the "dark ages" of the BS and MS P.T. degrees, I met and worked with therapists whose intellect, skills, and ambition drove them to advanced scientific degrees in anatomy, kinesiology, biomechanics, etc out of goals such as basic research in P.T., teaching, different approaches to treatment, pure intellectual curiosity. Not one at that time thought of using the title "doctor" even when their Phd entitled them to its use. I might add, that as a dinosaur in our profession - working along side of DPTs - I know I am competent in my patient care as they - and my advice if often asked for and considered. No doubt , the DPT degree indicates a high level of didactic and intellectual accomplishment, plus the discipline involved for completing the requirements. But,-many, many PTs have learned the level of manual skills through residencies, multi month courses, and especially through experience and being mentored by trained manual therapists that the DPTs exhibit. I must agree with those who express the opinion that in the clinical setting, there is no $110,000+ difference between the DPT therapist and the BS/Ms therapist. Don't get me started on the initial evaluation of patients and the appalling superfluous time involved indicating to me a lack of clinical judgement in the process by some DPTs. Just talk to some of the physicians I know who show me an initial P.T. eval by a DPT and says to me -"Don't they know how to succinctly get to the bottom line here and give me the info I need?" Now, I'll wait for the opprobrium to start flying.

      Posted by Herschel Budlow P.T. on 7/14/2014 2:26 PM

    • Please be informed prior to making your "it's all about me" statements. I encourage all of you to read the HOD motion as it was approved along with the support statement. Then you can make informed comment. Steve

      Posted by Steve HUst on 7/14/2014 2:39 PM

    • Time to rethink APTA membership and look for a body focused on actual providers well being and patient care.

      Posted by tony on 7/14/2014 10:06 PM

    • I am currently working on my t-DPT, learning more, and trying to be what it takes to be worthy of the doctoral designation. I can say as a current holder of a B.S. with 20 years of experience and a few specializations, that finishing the doctorate means something, and experience alone is not equal to the designation of an earned/learned doctorate. You either are a doctoral graduate or you are not. I have been on both sides and am a credentialed CI and I see the DPT students as well. My evals are still succinct, but have so much more EBP, Differential Dx, imaging knowledge for example. Just my two cents.

      Posted by Kirk on 10/28/2014 9:42 AM

    • Who will pay for the PT's who are now saving for retirement and putting their children through college and cannot afford college to earn the DPT and where will the time requirements be found? Will there be a grant fund?Are we to be punished for say...taking our skills to do Humanitarian aide and thus putting us longer to retirement. This is abhorrent not to grandfather the BS practitioners. If you choose to use the DPT title solely, the governing body should grandfather in those of us who have our CI certificate and have signed off on numbers of the DPT's now practicing who found our skills worthy then of their tutelage. We relics have devoted our time and resources carving out the profession over the years. We have evolved the profession without the DPT title. The number of CEU's alone over the years would equate to education over those just graduating with DPT's. How is this not taken into consideration. This looks like a potential class action suit against the governing body if they fail to recognize those with more experience and cause them undo financial harm and loss of wages/and or jobs. How is it not recognized that some BS graduates at some institutions like the one I attended had more actual class time (back in my day equivalent to 6 years) ; internship (here in the US and overseas- where hands on has superior evidence based results-yes, still to this day); hands on experience and; more CEUs than DPT's purely by years of practice. This proposal would essentially require PT's with BS degrees loose their profession or are forced to loose their retirement to find time and money to go back to school in a demanding season of life leaving those who chose the profession early to be burdened and punished with debt (paid off at our season of life) who now lack the same physical abilities and financial resources possessed in the earlier years. Effectively bankrupting or injuring your aging therapists, who have earned their place and time). What happened to respect for those who have shaped the profession or for wisdom and seasoned therapists? Have we done a dis-service to ourselves by agreeing to accept interns and sign off the DPT's now putting us out to pasture for sake of their ego, or a perverse plan to increase the demand by getting rid of their numbers, before we can afford retirement. What does that say about our profession. I myself have gone to a therapist who I chose specifically with a BS because of their vast knowledge and expertise. The DPT's were still googling where the BS PT hands down was a resource unto himself. Bottom line BS or DPT as Hershel in his above comments inferred...you are either a therapist continually on the job seeking improvement or not. Those of us (BDPT- before BDPT) should not now suffer for our years of devotion to our profession. And those who have acquired their DPT or equivalent well done some of my students were exceptional (but character does not come in a letter of the alphabet) but DPT's should take care...your season of life will come that you will hope not be taken from you for the sake of a new and perceived improved version of you. Hind sight is 20/20. This is viscerally frightening for those of us with a BS. I would have thought the APTA would have protected those who positively shaped the field early on.

      Posted by t hey on 5/23/2018 5:23 PM

    • This is illegal restraint of trade. and inequitable

      Posted by tom home on 5/23/2018 9:31 PM

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