It's on: 2 years after its launch as a concept, the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact (PTLC) is poised to become fully operational in 3 states, allowing physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) licensed in 1 of the states to obtain practice privileges in the other 2. The commission overseeing the compact system expects that over the coming months, the list of participating states will continue to grow as the 21 jurisdictions that have already signed on to the PTLC implement its provisions, and even more states adopt compact legislation. The compact was a project spearheaded by APTA and the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).
Beginning July 9, PTs and PTAs in Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee will be able to purchase the ability to legally practice in any or all of the 3 states. It's the first practical application of a concept that could revolutionize licensure mobility for the physical therapy profession by reducing the need for licensed PTs and PTAs to apply for separate licenses in additional states in which they want to practice.
The road to becoming operational depended on meeting 2 important challenges: convincing state legislatures to change their licensing laws to allow for the compact system, and creating a centralized commission to oversee issuance—as well as denial and suspension—of compact privileges. To set up the Physical Therapy Compact Commission, a critical mass of 10 states needed to change their laws. That target was reached in April 2017, and the commission was established soon after. Its website offers information on the system and an online application for privileges.
Rather than contacting individual licensing boards, PTs and PTAs must apply for privileges through the ptcompact.org website.
Twenty-one states have adopted the compact language. In addition to the 3 states flipping the switch on July 9 are Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. Compact legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania and is expected to be introduced in more states during future legislative sessions. The Physical Therapy Compact Commission's website features a map that tracks the status of compact participation.
The conceptualization of the compact system was a joint effort by APTA and FSBPT, but much of the advocacy for change had to be done by state chapters of APTA, said Angela Shuman, APTA director of state affairs.
"The launch of the compact is an historic moment for the physical therapy profession, but it never could have happened without the dedication and hard work of the chapters and their members," Shuman said. "APTA is proud that this collaborative effort between APTA, FSBPT, and our state chapters have made this concept a reality. The gains we've made so far have created momentum that will help the program continue to grow."