American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (who they are and what they do)!

American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (who they are and what they do)! The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) is a division of the American Physical Therapy Association (ABPT). This part of the ABPT coordinates and supervises the specialist certification process. They also act as the governing body for certification and recertification of clinical specialists. The APTA, the main professional organization that represents physical therapist members within the United States, established the specialist certification program in 1978. The ABPTS is comprised of nine different individuals with varying backgrounds. These individuals include five board-certified physical therapists with different specialty areas, a physical therapist representing the APTA Council of Section Presidents, an expert in testing, a physical therapist who is also a member of the APTA Board of Directors, and a person who represents the public and is not a physical therapist. The mission of the ABPTS according to the APTA's website "is to improve public health by advancing clinical excellence in physical therapy practive through credentialing clinical specialists." The ABTS sets the minimum requirements for certification and recertification of specialists. They approve and recommend to the APTA formation of new specialty areas. They approve and form specialty councils in areas approved by the House of Delegates. They also supervise specialty council activities. The ABTS approves the certification and recertification of candidates for specialist certification. This group develops and revises policies and procedures related to the specialist and recertification process. Certification in a physical therapy specialty area is the process in which a therapist builds on their basic professional education and experience to develop greater skills and knowledge related to a particular area of practice. The process of certifying specialists was established to provide recognition of physical therapists with advanced clinical knowlege and skills in a special area of practice. The designation of a specialist also helps consumers and others in the health care community recognize these therapists. There are seven specialty areas in which physical therapists can pursue board-certification. They include Cardiovascular and Pulmonary (CCS), Geriatric (GCS), Neurologic (NCS), Orthopeaedic (OCS), Pediatric (PCS), Clinical Electrophysiology (CES), and Sports (SCS). The initials representing each specialty area are abbreviations used by physical therapists who have been board-certified as specialists to note this achievement. There are currently 8,408 physical therapists with specialty certifications. The breakdown by specialty areas are 135 Cardiopulmonary, 136 Clinical Electrophysiologic, 927 Geriatric, 669 Neurologic, 4979 Orthopaedic, 854 Pediatic, and 708 Sports. There are specific requirements outlined by the ABPTS for each specialty before certification can occur. Minimum clinical hours, research participation, and evidence of emergency care competency are some examples of the requirements that must be met before a licensed physical therapist can sit for a specialty certification exam. The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) provides test development and administration of the specialist certification examinations. This organization works in partnership with ABPTS to develop the tests in specialty areas. The computer-based exams are administered at proctoring centers. The passing score for a specialty certification examination is 500. The fees associated with achieving ABPTS clinical specialization certification are sometimes paid for by employers. A recent survey by the ABPTS indicated that private practice clinics and acute care hospitals are the entities most likely to help with these costs. Incentives for physical therapists to pursue specialty certifications include salary increases, a change in job title, or additional authority or responsibilities at work. Priority is often given during the hiring process to physical therapists who are board-certified specialists. Physical therapists who have achieved certification in a specialty area are required to recertify every ten years. The purpose of recertification in to verify a therapists up-to-date competence as an advanced practitioner in a specialty area. Physical therapists practicing in an area of specialty are encouraged to pursue continuing education and professional research. A therapist who maintains their certification indicates their commitment to clinical excellence.