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Becoming a U.S.-licensed physical therapist as someone who attained entry-level education internationally is a feat. To apply for a license to practice in the state where you live you must have your entry-level academic course work accredited, take any necessary courses to gain U.S. equivalency, pass an English language proficiency exam, and, finally, take the national physical therapy exam. This expensive procedure can take years to complete. If you ever decide to move to a different state, you may be asked to go through many of the same steps all over again. 

Panelists will discuss the challenges they have faced when trying to move to different states to pursue work or educational opportunities and how you can advocate for the removal of unnecessary requirements.


Moderator: Kripa Dholakia, PT, DHSc, MA, board-certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy, is assistant professor at Widener University, where she teaches Neuro I and VI, Lifespan II, and pediatric elective courses. She is a member of APTA’s staff work group for foreign/internationally educated PTs. She is a member of APTA’s Health Policy and Administration Section and has volunteered with the section’s Global Health SIG, as well as with the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy’s Knowledge Broker Network. Dholakia has travelled as a PT to several countries. Her doctoral scholarship explored the ethicality of international service-learning experiences offered by DPT programs. Dholakia received her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Mumbai University, India, and her advanced master’s degree and DHSc from Drexel University School of Nursing and Health Professions. 

Nancy Kirsch, PT, DPT, PhD, FAPTA, is vice chair of Rehabilitation and Movement Sciences and director of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is a member of the New Jersey Board of Physical Therapy Examiners and president of the Board of Directors of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Active in APTA since she was a student, Kirsch was president of the New Jersey Chapter and chief delegate, and she served on the APTA Ethics and Judicial Committee, including a term as chair. She also served on the Reference Committee, including a term as chair.  She was awarded the APTA Lucy Blair Service Award in 2006 and became a Catherine Worthingham Fellow in 2014. She is a member of the Rutgers University Master Educator Guild. Kirsch received her physical therapy degree from Temple University, her master’s degree in health education from Montclair University, her PhD in health sciences with a concentration in ethics from Rutgers University, and a DPT from Massachusetts Institute of Health Professions. She also has a certificate in health care administration from Seton Hall University and a certificate in biomedical ethics from Georgetown University.  

Ankit Shahi, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist and education specialist at Christiana Hospital in Delaware. After completing his bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy in India, he moved to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in exercise science from Mississippi State University. At MSU he also was a research assistant in the Kinesiology Department and taught exercise physiology to junior and senior year students. Shahi founded the NPTE Study Buddy group, which is now a leading prep course for the U.S. and Canadian physical therapy licensure exams.

Claudia Herrera, PT, ScD, obtained her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from American British Cowdray Hospital ABC in Mexico City. She came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in physical therapy at Quinnipiac University and completed her ScD from Texas Tech University. She also is certified in orthopedic manual physical therapy through the International Academy of Orthopedic Medicine. She primarily has been practicing outpatient orthopedics and sports medicine but has experience in homecare, spinal cord injury, patients with amputation, pediatric wound care, and other children's pathologies after working for Shriners' Hospital during her social service. Herrera says she believes in three things: education for yourself and others, empowerment through movement and knowledge, and getting fair treatment to all. She serves the board of the Spanish Community of Wallingford, where she has participated in free clinics and developed YouTube videos for Spanish-speaking patients who need more information about their injuries and biomechanics. She has been a soccer coach, a 3.5-rated U.S. Tennis Association player, and an Ironman finisher, saying,”to sell movement you need to look like you love moving.”

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