Development of the Coursework Tools
Coursework tools (CWT) for foreign educated physical therapists (CWT 1-6)
Prior to 1955 the oversight of physical therapist education came under the auspices of the American Medical Association (AMA). These standards were established by the AMA’s Council on Medical Education and Hospitals. When APTA took on this oversight function, they adopted AMA’s educational criteria. These criteria and expectations were for physical therapists, physical therapist clinics and physical therapy programs to be under the direction and prescription of the physician. CWT 1 reflects the educational program required of a physical therapist who graduated prior to 1978.
In 1978, the APTA House of Delegates adopted and implemented the first changes in the evaluative criteria since 1955. CWT 2 reflects those changes in philosophy and criteria for PT education.
By 1990, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) had been created for the purposes of accrediting physical therapy programs within the standards set by the U.S. Department of Education. CAPTE established new guidelines and Evaluative Criteria for the PT educational programs, which were adopted by the APTA House of Delegates. Implementation occurred in 1992. CWT 3 was developed from these standards.
In 1998, the CAPTE Evaluative Criteria were revised. CWT 4 is based upon the 1998 criteria. In addition, FSBPT used information compiled by the FSBPT Foreign Educated Physical Therapist Committee from 1998-1999, A Normative Model of Physical Therapist Professional Education: Version 97, APTA, 1997 and reviewed catalogs of institutions offering physical therapist educational programs and guidelines from 49 jurisdictions for licensing foreign educated physical therapists. Research done by the New Jersey State Board of Physical Therapy Education Committee and an analysis of requirements of 53 licensing jurisdictions completed by International Credentialing Associates were also considered in the establishment of CWT 4.
CWT 4 was validated against the 1988 Evaluative Criteria for Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Preparation of Physical Therapists, and modified in 2002 to include terminology and concepts published in professional reference documents that describe contemporary education and practice in the U.S. such as the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice Second Edition, APTA, January 2001.
During this timeframe, INS (now USCIS) published rules requiring agencies that provided visa screening for healthcare workers to conduct ongoing validation studies of the tools used to assess candidates for certification. This requirement applied to the Coursework Tool because FCCPT, an agency recognized by USCIS to provide visa screenings, used (and uses) the FSBPT Coursework Tool. A validation study conducted at Northwestern University was completed in 2003. Modifications in terminology to CWT 4 were made from recommendations from the Validation Study to bring it into compliance with the then-current CAPTE evaluative criteria.
CWT 5 was prepared and validated by FSBPT upon the publication of the Evaluative Criteria for Accreditation of Education Programs for the Preparation of Physical Therapists effective January 1, 2006. It was adopted by the FSBPT board of directors to be used beginning July 1, 2009. This date reflects graduation of students taught under the 2006 criteria.
CWT 6 was prepared and validated by FSBPT based upon the August 2014 publication of CAPTE’s Evaluative Criteria for PT Programs. It was adopted by the FSBPT board of directors to be used beginning January 1, 2017. This date reflects graduation of students taught under the 2014 criteria.
Chronologically, the first coursework tool actually developed was CWT 4, which encompassed the accreditation standards in place at the time of its development around 1999-2000. In 2004, the Federation’s delegate assembly charged the board of directors to develop and validate different forms of the CWT, based upon earlier versions of the CAPTE evaluative criteria to be used for endorsement candidates. Endorsement candidates are defined as individuals already licensed to practice in a US jurisdiction who are requesting licensure in another US jurisdiction.
Use of the CWT
The CWT that reflects current standards may be used to determine qualifications for an applicant to sit for the NPTE, for first-time licensure in US jurisdictions and prescreening certification for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Per the following motion passed by the 2014 Delegate Assembly, CWTs that reflect previous standards may be used to determine qualifications for licensure through endorsement of a foreign educated PT or PTA who is already licensed, certified or registered in another US jurisdiction.
The credentials of a foreign educated physical therapist (FEPT) who is currently licensed in a jurisdiction, and is seeking licensure through endorsement in another jurisdiction should be evaluated using the version of the FSBPT Coursework Tool retro tool that covers the date the applicant graduated from their respective physical therapy education program.
This process should be used for those seeking licensure through endorsement only. First-time licensure candidates should be evaluated using the current Coursework Tool.
In addition, rescind Delegate Assembly motion DEL-05-10.
CWTs are also designed to be used by credentialing organizations and education programs. In addition, the CWTs may be used as a self-evaluation method to guide foreign educated physical therapists in comparing their education to US standards.
Coursework tool for foreign educated physical therapist assistants (PTA-Tool 1-2)
PTA-Tool 1 was developed by the Federation in response to the 2008 published regulation number CMS-1385 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for Medicare reimbursement. This CMS regulation requires a foreign educated physical therapist assistant to show certification of education which is substantially equivalent to an entry-level physical therapist assistant’s education in the United States.
PTA-Tool 2 was developed by the Federation in 2017 to address the changes in the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy updates to the Evaluative Criteria for accredited PTA programs. The PTA-Tool 2 was approved and adopted by the Board of Directors in February of 2017 with recommended implementation February 2017.
PTA-Tool 1 reflects the minimum foundational studies and applied science and technical education for substantial equivalence with respect to a U.S. first degree for a physical therapist assistant.
PTA-Tool 1 is validated against the CAPTE Evaluative Criteria for Accreditation of Education Programs for the Preparation of Physical Therapist Assistants adopted April 2006 and effective July 1, 2007.