When I was doing travel therapy, my recruiter told me that sometimes, Illinois travel assignments dry up during the winter months, so he advised me to get a back-up license in neighboring Iowa.
He said it is one of the easiest states to get a PT license in.
I had to share my experiences to my oblivious recruiter so he has an inkling how hard it was to secure a license for therapists like me because we all know any foreign-trained physical therapists must pass through the eye of the needle when apply for a license in other states.
Most Americans are unaware how challenging it is to register for licensure in a US state, any US state, if you graduated abroad.
And I don’t blame them. Nobody really knows our struggles until we talk about them.
Once I tell my American colleagues how many hurdles I had to go through to even set foot in the US as a PT, they’re blown away by my persistence. That is, if they didn’t fall asleep listening to my list.
They usually start snoring by about Step # 4.
The journey to work in the US as a foreign-trained physical therapist is like a delicate dance; you take a step too early; you lose your rhythm or fall flat on your face. Let me show you the intricate steps to this professional tango.
It’s a privilege to be a part of the team that knows how to heal the human body, don’t you agree?
After graduating from PT school and securing your diploma, it’s time to take the board exam.
Although anecdotally, let me tell you one of the most competent PTs I know never even bothered to pass the PRC (Philippine Regulatory Commission) board exam.
If you’re the only PT in the village and you give results to your patients, no one ever questions if you’re licensed or not. But I do encourage everyone who practices PT to at least secure your local license. It paves the way to so many other opportunities.
To quote a page on the FSBPT website:
“A license to engage in the practice of a regulated profession is a privilege available only to those who have met specific statutory standards.”
Plus, the initials PTRP look good after your name.
This means paying for a service that evaluates our every course, every subject, every clinical rotation with to determine our eligibility to apply for work in the USA.
Currently, these are our options for credential evaluation: the Foreign Credentialing Commission on Physical Therapy (FCCPT, the CGFNS for use by ICD (International Consultants of Delaware), the International Credentialing Associates (ICA), and the International Education Research Foundation (IERF).
New York is unique in that they have their own credentialing agency, the NYSED which processes your application fast (approx. 7 days) but is quite restricting when you want to transfer to another state.
Don’t ask me why, the Big Apple is just special that way.
The buzzword to follow is Coursework Tool (CWT), a specially developed standardized evaluating tool to make it easy for state jurisdictions to evaluate how prepared you are to work in the US...nay, to take the US PT board exam.
The later the tool, the more chances your education will be found lacking especially if you graduated way before 2000.
It only follows that PT programs need to be continually updated to be competitive in today’s world.
Currently, the FCCPT uses CWT 6, a 16-page document listing every course a foreign PT grad needs to stock in his arsenal.
You need to show a minimum of 170 credit hours. Most Filipino PTs who graduated with a bachelor’s degree have at least 170 units or higher.
It gets more complicated, so I recommend this link to guide you further.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services just made it mandatory for a foreign applicant to show a Doctorate in PT degree in order to be awarded a Healthcare Workers’ Certificate (HWC).