In April 2017, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy successfully enacted the PT Compact, a project to develop an interstate licensure compact for physical therapists to reduce interstate regulatory barriers and allow cross-state practice. This created a way for physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTA) to practice or work in multiple states. The PT Compact Commission governs the member states in order to implement the provisions of the PT Compact.
Today, the PT board and each member state select a delegate to serve on the commission who must be a physical therapist, physical therapist assistant, public member or board administrator. The Commission then selects a seven-member executive board in order to represent the member states as a whole in front of the American Physical Therapy Association and the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. This movement improves access to physical therapy services for the public by allowing greater mobility of eligible providers to work in multiple states.
As the PT Compact becomes more acceptable in different states, it will reduce the need for a PT or PTA to maintain an active license in every state in which they practice. Every state jurisdiction has the right to regulate healthcare professionals in the way in which it believes will best serve its residents. Prior to the compact, every PT and PTA who wanted to practice in more than one state had to fill out extensive application forms, send in transcripts and additional background information, as well as submit to a criminal background check and substantiated they passed relevant examinations.
This created real barriers when it came to an individual’s ability to access physical therapy. For instance, in rural areas or understaffed clinics near the state borders, PTs and PTAs would not be allowed to practice across state lines to fill a very real need. The PT Compact operates in much the same way as your driver’s license. The basic idea is that states adopt legislation allowing participation in a system where a professional with an unencumbered license in one participating state could practice another participating state.
This would create a formal and legal relationship to address common problems across state lines. It also creates an independent and multi-state authority to address issues effectively and established uniform guidelines for agencies practicing in the Compact member states. Each state would retain sovereignty in matters traditionally reserved for states while working together to provide a structure for collaborative action and build consensus across state lines.
The number of states participating in the PT Compact fluctuates as state legislation is proposed and enacted. A current list of states can be found at PT Compact. There are four levels of participation: states that have actively issued and accepting compact privileges; those who have enacted legislation but it has not passed; those in which legislation was introduced and states without any legislation introduced. Member states in the PT Compact include:
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
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