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Physical Therapist guiding a patient through an exercise


Ethical Conduct

Earning the public's trust

Why should we care about ethics? When you become a physical therapist (PT) or physical therapist assistant (PTA), you will start to assume a more autonomous role in healthcare. Ethical judgments are going to play an increasingly important role in the gamut of clinical decision making. Unethical behavior usually results in a loss of trust among the public.


Recalling exam questions is unethical

Soliciting recalled questions from individuals who have previously taken the national physical therapy exam (NPTE®) is unethical for several reasons:

  • You are breaking the public's trust

    You are expected to pass the test based on your own merit without assistance. The members of the public who will entrust you with their well-being expect that you are a trustworthy and competent individual.

  • You are committing an illegal act

    The purpose of the NPTE is to protect the public by ensuring that candidates for licensure have achieved entry-level competence. By asking previous test takers to share questions with you, you are committing an illegal act and are undermining the very purpose of the examination.

  • You are encouraging illegal acts

    By soliciting questions from previous test takers, you are encouraging such persons to commit illegal acts.


Gain a better understanding of ethics as it applies to physical therapy

Review the following resources:

  • Model practice act

    The Federation’s "Model Practice Act for Physical Therapy Fourth Editionrecommends that physical therapy practice acts require physical therapists to adhere to the recognized standards of ethics of the physical therapy profession as established by rule.

  • Code of ethics

    You can view the APTA "Code of Ethics and Guide for Professional Conduct" by going to the APTA website,, and clicking on the following links: About APTA/Policies and Bylaws/ APTA Core Documents and Bylaws. Both documents are listed under “Core Documents.”