If you are a licensed physical therapist in America, you are required to maintain your license by continuing your education throughout your career. According to the national governing body the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, the goal is ‘continued competence,’ a lifelong process of maintaining skills and abilities through assessment and personal learning.
Knowing when and how to renew your license and maintain competence can be confusing. Read on for a list of frequently asked questions and resources to help you navigate the world of continuing education in physical therapy.
How Do I Renew My License?
As a physical therapy practitioner in America, you will likely find that the answer to this question might take some research. Essentially, the requirements for renewal vary state to state, sometimes widely. A variety of factors can be sought by a state board for license renewal, including:
- Number of continuing education (CE) hours
- Number of continuing competency units (CCU’s)
- Specific course topics (HIV, ethics, CPR etc.)
- Evidence of active practice
- Malpractice insurance
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it is essential that you check with your state licensing board or other governing bodies to determine the specific requirements you need to meet.
When Should I Renew?
Again, the answer to this question is highly state-dependent. However, most states have a license term of two years. In addition, the date by which you must renew is set by each state’s regulations.
For example, 31 states require you to renew your license by a set date. Comparatively, 6 states, including California, require you to renew your license before your birthday.
It is important to know what your state requires, as it can shift your allotted time period for renewal significantly. For instance, if you live in California and receive your initial license in August, but your birthday falls in January, then you only have 16 months to renew your license. After that, it is valid for two years.
Which Courses Should I Take?
The easy answer is to take courses on subjects that interest you, or that are most beneficial to your practice. However, it is again necessary to check your state requirements. Florida, for example, requires both an HIV and a Medical Error course completion for renewal. Oregon requires a Pain Management course. If you know beforehand that your state requires coursework on specific topics, it will help direct your search for courses and programs in which to participate.
How Do I Find Eligible Courses?
A brief online search reveals hundreds of course and program providers for physical therapists seeking license renewal. However, not all programs are recognized by the appropriate agencies. The governing bodies that approve courses for license renewal vary state by state; sometimes, multiple agencies can approve or disapprove a program.
At PDH, we offer continuing education courses for physical therapists seeking renewal that match state-specific requirements. Simply search our state-specific database of online and correspondence programs to find the best fit for your needs. Our courses are affordable and taught by experienced industry leaders to ensure the highest quality of continued education.