by Chris Musillo

The evolution of Physical Therapy educational continues. The profession had long been governed by a Bachelors degree standard until the late 1990s when universities raised their first degree to a master’s degree. State licensing boards and the FCCPT followed and by the early 2000s the minimum entry degree into the profession was officially a master’s degree. In the early part of the decade the minimum educational standard evolved again. It is now a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT).

In concert with the evolution, FCCPT is also evolving their Course Work Tool to their sixth updated version (CWT-6). The CWT-6 is the tool by which educational evaluators equate foreign-educated Physical Therapists.

From the FCCPT May 2016 News Brief:

The FSBPT Coursework Tool is used by credential review agencies to determine if a non-CAPTE educated PT’s education is substantially equivalent to a CAPTE-educated PT. The CWT was revised to reflect the new CAPTE standards for PT and PTA programs taking effect January 1, 2017. Changes in the CWT 6 include an increase in total credits required from 150 to 170 credits and an increase in clinical hours from a minimum of 800 to 900 hours.

Post-graduate work will be considered in the evaluation. Again from their May 2016 News Brief:

Based on the Framework, the CWT 6 Guidelines for Interpretation will be revised to allow credential review agencies to consider clinical, direct patient care, work experience that meets certain criteria towards the CWT 6 required 900 clinical education hours. There are a number of parameters and limitations included in the Framework to ensure that the practice experience meets a minimal level of quality. Post-graduate clinical experience hours requirements for physical therapists:

1. Completed an average of at least 20 hours per week for a minimum of 1,000 hours.
2. Completed 1,000 hours in direct patient care.
3. Completed the hours within the most recent three years preceding the application.
4. Completed the hours within a hospital, rehabilitation center, or other facility that employed a minimum staff of at least three (including the applicant) practicing PTs during the applicant’s clinical experience hours. Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy Page 3
5. PTs employed at the facility with the applicant must have been available for consultation.
6. At least one of the PTs employed at the facility with the applicant must have at least two years experience practicing as a PT.
7. Verification that the applicant was eligible to practice in the country in which the experience was completed.
8. Verification that the applicant has had no disciplinary action against any professional license held for at least two years.
9. Notarized verification of the work experience provided by a supervisor such as the department head of the physical therapy practice or the director/head of the facility

Additionally, any university externship conducted under the supervision of a university PT program, credentialed residency or fellowship would be an acceptable option to meet a deficit of clinical education hours. These are rarely available, especially outside of the US, but are an acceptable option. Typically, within the US, a participant in a residency/fellowship must be licensed and due to the licensure requirement, a US residency/fellowship would most likely be unavailable.

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