The Monday Memo
January 6, 2020 PITT DPT STUDENTS
After Graduation: FAQ’s and How-To’s
For 3rd year students and fastly approaching for 2nd years, there is the unavoidable topic of taking the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) and applying for state licensure after graduation. However, these processes can be very confusing especially if you don’t know what state you want to practice in. After all, many of us are not originally from Pennsylvania or do not plan on practicing here following graduation. Below is a ROUGH (very rough) guideline and information of taking the NPTE and applying for state(s) licensure.
What is the process of taking the NPTE?
In terms of taking the NPTE, there is a whole process that must occur prior to taking the exam that requires multiple agencies and accrediting bodies. For the most part, this process is relatively consistent state to state but there are some minute things that may differ. When registering for the NPTE, your school must validate your graduation, and you must meet all eligibility requirements before the state’s jurisdiction grants permission to allow you to take the test. All of this must happen before you schedule to actually take the exam. Along with the NPTE, there are a few states that require a jurisprudence exam for licensure. This exam is specifically aimed at assessing your knowledge on specific PT practice legislation in your respective state.
After passing the NPTE, am I automatically licensed in that state?
For the most part, yes. By meeting eligibility requirements to take the NPTE, you essentially receive licensure upon passing. But keep in mind that this license is only valid in THAT state. For example, if I took my test in Pennsylvania, I can only practice in Pennsylvania. Let’s say that I wanted to move to Philly but wanted to commute to New Jersey for work, I would still have to apply for licensure in the state of NJ.
What if I plan on doing travel PT? Do I need to apply for licensure separately for all those states?
Unfortunately, yes. And all the application fees that come along with it. BUT there is hope. Recently, many state legislatures have introduced the idea of “compact privileges” for PT licensure. This system allows you to practice in any of the states within the agreement while holding only one state’s licensure. This acts very much like a driver’s license. I may hold a Pennsylvania driver’s license but if I am driving through Ohio, I must adhere to Ohio’s driving rules and regulations. The same holds true for PT licenses as part of this compact agreement.
As of right now, there are 16 states that are officially a part of the agreement, 11 states that have enacted legislation to become a part of it, and 4 states including Pennsylvania, that have introduced compact agreement legislation as a topic. Soon I could work in New Jersey while holding only a PA license. Cheers to no more application fees!
This only begins to scratch the surface of what must be done between now and working a real adult job. But if you are like me and get anxious thinking about all the tedious processes and confusing licensing rules, this is a good foundation to build upon as we approach graduation!
-Sam Yip, SPT