American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties

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The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties, often abbreviated ABPTS, coordinates and oversees the specialist certification process, is the governing body for certification and recertification of clinical specialists. This board is composed of nine individuals: board-certified physical therapists from five different specialty areas; one physical therapist member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Board of Directors; one physical therapist representing the APTA Council of Section Presidents; one individual with expertise in test development, evaluation, and education; and one non-physical therapist representing the public. Mission

ABPTS' mission is to improve public health by enhancing clinical excellence in physical therapy practice through credentialing clinical specialists.[1]

Responsibilities[edit]

The six responsibilities of the ABPTS are:[1]

  1. Development of minimum requirements for certification and recertification to be used across all specialty areas, and approval of specialty-specific requirements developed by specialty councils.
  2. Approval and recommendation to the APTA House of Delegates of the formation of proposed specialty areas.
  3. Approval of formation of specialty councils in areas approved by the APTA House of Delegates.
  4. Approval and overseeing specialty council activities.
  5. Approval of certification and recertification of qualified candidates for specialist certification.
  6. Development, implementation, and revision of policies and procedures related to specialist certification and recertification processes.

Sections[edit]

The APTA offers 18 special-interest sections that provide physical therapists with the resources they need to stay current in their area of expertise and connect with others sharing their specific interests. To be a member of any section, a separate fee is required in addition to the yearly APTA membership fee. The sections include Acute Care, Aquatic Physical Therapy, Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management, Education, Federal Physical Therapy, Geriatrics, Hand Rehabilitation, Health Policy and Administration, Home Health, Neurology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Private Practice, Research, Sports Physical Therapy, and Women's Health.[2] Of these 18 sections, 8 of them offer specializations.

Specialties[edit]

Specialization is the process by which a physical therapist builds on a broad base of professional education and practice to develop a greater depth of knowledge and skills related to a particular area of practice. Clinical specialization in physical therapy responds to a specific area of patient need and requires knowledge, skill, and experience exceeding that of the physical therapist at entry to the profession and unique to the specialized area of practice. The specialist certification program was established to provide formal recognition for physical therapists with advanced clinical knowledge, experience, and skills in a special area of practice and to assist consumers and the health care community in identifying these physical therapists.[3]

In order to be eligible for any clinical specialist examination, all applicants must hold a current license to practice physical therapy in the United States or any of its possessions or territories, pay all application review and examination fees, and complete any additional requirements specific to each clinical speciality.[4]

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary (CCS) [2][4][edit]

The Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section serves its members, the physical therapy profession, and the community by promoting the development, application, and advancement of cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy practice, education, and research. The Section is a resource for members of the physical therapy profession who provide health, wellness, prevention and/or rehabilitation services to individuals at risk for, or diagnosed with, cardiovascular or pulmonary impairments. The cardiovascular and pulmonary quarterly publication is Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal. (Please refer to cardiopulmonary rehabilitation for more information.)

In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimal requirements for either Option A or Option B:

Option A: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years. 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. Direct patient care must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physical Therapy (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

Practice settings: The Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Specialty Council recommends that direct patient care include patient/client management of individuals with a primary injury, disease, or other condition involving the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems in both acute and rehabilitation settings.

Research: Applicants must submit written evidence of participation in a research process directly related to the specialty area within the last ten years. This submission should be in the form of 1) a brief statement that describes your specific involvement, and 2) an abstract that summarizes the project in which you participated (written in standard form: e.g., purpose, methods, results, and conclusions.) Acceptable research processes include: single-subject studies, treatment efficacy studies (e.g., quality assurance or utilization review), surveys, and formal clinical trials.

Option B: Applicants must submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA-credentialed post professional Cardiovascular and Pulmonary clinical residency. Applicants who are currently enrolled in APTA-credentialed clinical residencies may apply for the specialist certification examination in the appropriate specialty area prior to completion of the clinical residency. These applicants will be conditionally approved to sit for the examination, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements, pending submission of evidence.

Clinical Electrophysiology (ECS) [2][4][edit]

The Section on Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management addresses the needs of its members in electrotherapy/physical agents, electrophysiological evaluation, physical agents, and wound management. The Section provides continuing education programs and works to influence legislative and reimbursement issues that affect physical therapy services. The clinical electrophysiology and wound management quarterly electronic newsletter is Clinical Electrophysiology.

Special Interest Groups include Electrophysiologic Evaluation, Physical Agent Interventions: Electrotherapy, Thermotherapy, Light Therapy, and Wound Management.

In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimal requirements:

Direct Patient Care/ Electrophysiologic Testing: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years. 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. The applicant must include evidence of performing a minimum of 500 complete electroneuromygraphy examinations during those hours. The remainder of the patient hours may include observation of examinations and supervised examinations.

Direct patient care must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice: Clinical Electrophysiologic Physical Therapy (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

Clinical Education: Applicants must submit evidence of clinical education experience in electrophysiologic testing, preferably under the direct supervision of a clinical electrophysiologist who meets the requirements for specialist certification.

Patient Reports and Testing Logs: Applicants are required to submit actual patient reports that have been completed within the last three years (from August 1, 2007). Submitted cases must be representative of abnormal findings and include one of each of the following: one report must be for a patient with a proximal level compromise representing a radiculopathic process. one report must be for a patient demonstrating a peripheral nerve entrapment, and one report must be for a patient demonstrating a polyneuropathic process. Applicants will be required to submit copies of testing logs performed for a three-month period after August 1, 2009.

Geriatrics (GCS) [2][4][edit]

The Section on Geriatrics fosters clinical excellence and the professional and career development of physical therapists and physical therapist assistants working with older adults by providing members with continuing education and assistance in the areas of practice, research, and advocacy. Annual home-study course offered at member discounts. Members may participate in special interest groups, the state advocate program, and the section listserve. The geriatrics publications include trianually peer-reviewed Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy and bimonthly clinical magazine GeriNotes.

Special Interest Groups include Balance and Falls, Health Promotion and Wellness, and Osteoporosis.

In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Geriatric Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimal requirements for either Option A or Option B.

Option A: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years. 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. Direct patient care must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice: Geriatric Physical Therapy (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

Option B: Applicants must submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA-credentialed post professional clinical residency in their respective specialty. Applicants who are currently enrolled in APTA-credentialed clinical residencies may apply for the specialist certification examination in the appropriate specialty area prior to completion of the clinical residency. These applicants will be conditionally approved to sit for the examination, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements, pending submission of evidence of successful completion of the APTA credentialed clinical residency to APTA's Specialists Certification Program.

Neurology (NCS) [2][4][edit]

The mission of the Neurology Section is to serve neurologic physical therapy providers and to advance evidence-based practice, education, and research in neurologic physical therapy. Members benefits include the opportunity to interact with others who have a common interest in neurologic physical therapy, advance their knowledge through discussions with clinical experts at professional meetings and through our neuromuscular listserve, and participate in a growing, dynamic, and responsive specialty section that provides avenues for professional growth and mentorship. The neurology quarterly publication is Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy (JNPT).

Special Interest Groups include Brain Injury, Degenerative Diseases, Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, Balance and Falls, and Vestibular Rehabilitation.

In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Neurologic Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimal requirements for either Option A or Option B.

Option A: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years. 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. Direct patient care must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice: Neurological Physical Therapy (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

Option B: Applicants must submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA-credentialed post professional clinical residency in their respective specialty. Applicants who are currently enrolled in APTA-credentialed clinical residencies may apply for the specialist certification examination in the appropriate specialty area prior to completion of the clinical residency. These applicants will be conditionally approved to sit for the examination, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements, pending submission of evidence of successful completion of the APTA credentialed clinical residency to APTA's Specialists Certification Program.

Orthopaedics (OCS) [2][4][edit]

The Orthopaedic Section provides a forum for those with an interest in the management of patients with musculoskeletal disorders. Education Groups include PTA, Knee/Patellafemoral, Manual Therapy, and Primary Care. Publications include monthly Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) and quarterly Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Practice (OPTP).

Special Interest Groups include Occupational Health, Foot and Ankle, Performing Arts, Pain Management, and Animal Rehabilitation. In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Orthopaedic Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimum requirements for either Option A or Option B.

Option A: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years. 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. Direct patient care must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice: Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

Option B: Applicants must submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA-credentialed post professional clinical residency in their respective specialty. Applicants who are currently enrolled in APTA-credentialed clinical residencies may apply for the specialist certification examination in the appropriate specialty area prior to completion of the clinical residency. These applicants will be conditionally approved to sit for the examination, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements, pending submission of evidence of successful completion of the APTA credentialed clinical residency to APTA's Specialists Certification Program.

Pediatrics (PCS) [2][4][edit]

The Section on Pediatrics promotes the highest quality of life for all children, people with developmental disabilities, and their families. Through its continuing education programs, publications, listserve, and Web site, the Section provides physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students with current information in the areas of practice, research, policy, and other related issues. Publications include Pediatric Physical Therapy and Section on Pediatrics Newsletter.

Special Interest Groups include Adolescents & Adults with Developmental Disabilities, Pediatric Sports-Fitness, School-based PT, and Neonatology. In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Pediatric Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimum requirements for either Option A or Option B.

Option A: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years. 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. Direct patient care must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice: Pediatric Physical Therapy (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

Option B: Applicants must submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA-credentialed post professional clinical residency in their respective specialty. Applicants who are currently enrolled in APTA-credentialed clinical residencies may apply for the specialist certification examination in the appropriate specialty area prior to completion of the clinical residency. These applicants will be conditionally approved to sit for the examination, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements, pending submission of evidence of successful completion of the APTA credentialed clinical residency to APTA's Specialists Certification Program.

Sports (SCS) [2][4][edit]

The Sports Physical Therapy Section addresses the needs of its members who are interested in athletic injury management, including acute care, treatment and rehabilitation, prevention, and education. The Section offers its members various home-study courses that provide continuing education credits and that have been approved by APTA and the National Athletic Trainers Association. Publications: Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) and North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Sports Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimum requirements: The applicant must be currently certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) by completing the American Heart Association's BLS Healthcare Provider Course or American Red Cross' CPR for the Professional Rescuer course.

Emergency Care Certification – The applicant must submit evidence of current first aid certification. Acceptable training includes the American Red Cross Emergency Response course; certification as an Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic, or certification by the National Athletic Trainers Association as a Certified Athletic Trainer. Evidence of completion of CPR certification and Emergency Care Certification should be submitted with your application.

In addition to meeting the CPR and Emergency Care Requirements, applicants must meet requirements for Option A or Option B.

Direct patient care experience must include patient/client management of individuals with primary processes involving referral as the result of sports activity in both acute and rehabilitation settings.

Option A: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years. 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. Direct patient care must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice: Sports Physical Therapy (DSP). These elements, as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, are examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention.

Option B: Applicants must submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA-credentialed post professional sports clinical residency. Applicants who are currently enrolled in APTA-credentialed clinical residencies may apply for the specialist certification examination in the appropriate specialty area prior to completion of the clinical residency. These applicants will be conditionally approved to sit for the examination, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements, pending submission of evidence of successful completion of the APTA-credentialed clinical residency to APTA's Specialists Certification Program.

Women's Health (WCS) [2][4][edit]

The Section on Women's Health is dedicated to promoting and expanding the role of physical therapy in women's health across the lifespan. The Section provides networking opportunities, educational resources, and continuing education. The Section also supports standards of practice and fosters research. Triannual publications: Journal of the Section on Women's Health and Highlights in Women's Health.

In order to become eligible for this clinical specialty, applicants for the Women's Health Certified Specialist must meet the following additional minimum requirements for either Option A or Option B.

Option A: Applicants must submit evidence of 2,000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area within the last ten years, 25% of which must have occurred within the last three years. Applicants must also submit one case reflection demonstrating specialty practice in women's health. This case study must be based on a patient/client seen within the last three years.

Option B: Applicants must submit evidence of successful completion of an APTA credentialed post professional women's health clinical residency. Applicants who are currently enrolled in APTA credentialed clinical residencies may apply for the specialist certification examination in the appropriate specialty area prior to completion of the clinical residency. These applicants will be conditionally approved to sit for the examination, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements, pending submission of evidence of successful completion of the APTA credentialed clinical residency to APTA's Specialists Certification Program. Applicants applying under Option B must also submit one case study demonstrating specialty practice in women's health. This case study must be based on a patient/client seen within the last three years.

Specialty area Number of certified physical therapists as of 14 June 2013 [3]
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary 187
Clinical Electrophysiology 160
Geriatrics 1,562
Neurology 1,260
Orthopaedics 8,532
Pediatrics 1,271
Sports 1,226
Women's Health 194

Residencies and fellowships[edit]

A clinical residency is a planned program of post-professional clinical and didactic education for physical therapists that is designed to significantly advance the physical therapist resident's preparation as a provider of patient care services in a defined area of clinical practice. It combines opportunities for ongoing clinical supervision and mentoring with a theoretical basis for advanced practice and scientific inquiry.

A clinical fellowship is a planned program of post-professional clinical and didactic education for physical therapists who demonstrate clinical expertise, prior to commencing the program, in a learning experience in an area of clinical practice related to the practice focus of the fellowship. (Fellows are frequently post-residency prepared or board-certified specialists.) A fellowship program must possess a curriculum that: 1) is focused, with advanced clinical and didactic instruction within a subspecialty area of practice; 2) is intensive and includes extensive mentored clinical experience; and, 3) provides a sufficient and appropriate patient population to create an environment for advanced clinical skill building.

A clinical residency program is designed to substantially advance a resident's expertise in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and management of patients in a defined area of clinical practice (specialty). This focus may also include community service, patient education, research, and supervision of other health care providers (professional and technical). Often, the residency experience prepares an individual to become a board-certified clinical specialist.

A fellowship program is designed to provide greater depth in a specialty or subspecialty area than that which is covered in a residency program. Additionally, applicants of a clinical fellowship program must be licensed as a physical therapist and possess one or more of the following qualifications: 1) specialist certification, 2) completion of a residency in a specialty area, or 3) demonstrable clinical skills within a particular specialty area.

Lastly, the clinical residency program should be completed within a minimum of 1,500 hours and in no fewer than nine months and no more than 36 months. A clinical fellowship program should be completed within a minimum of 1,000 hours and in no fewer than six months and no more than 36 months. Programs whose timeframe falls outside of these parameters will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b [1] - American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i [2] - American Physical Therapy Association
  3. ^ a b [3] - American Physical Therapy Association
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i [4] - American Physical Therapy Association
  5. ^ [5] - APTA Residency and Fellowship Credentialing Frequently Asked Questions