Career Development January 1, 2020

By Debra Wood

Interstate Licensure for PTs/PTAs: Reality in 2018!

Physical therapists can soon work in multiple states with the new physical therapy compact officially coming in 2018

This Story Updated 05/02/17**

For the PT/PTA compact to pass, a minimum of 10 states needed to join. As of the updating of this article, the compact has now reached that milestone and is set to begin in 2018. The states currently involved include Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and Utah. However, other states may also choose to join before the compact goes into effect next year.  Search <PT> or <PTA> jobs now.


By Debra Wood, RN, contributor

Think how wonderful it would be to travel to a new physical therapy job without having to worry about obtaining licensure in that state. That’s the goal of the interstate licensure compact for physical therapists and physical therapy assistants. 

“This will make it easier and quicker for getting privileges to practice in multiple states,” said Angela Shuman, director of state affairs at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

“The main reason is to increase access to care for patients,” added Mark Lane, PT, vice president of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), which began investigating the establishment of a PT licensure compact at the suggestion of several states.

State borders provide barriers of access to patients. It makes telehealth more difficult to administer. Patients who live in remote areas may want to seek care in another state, physically closer to home, Lane explained. Or a patient may require the expertise of a specialist in another state. That specialist could provide the services remotely through tele-rehabilitation. Lane could not think of any drawbacks to a licensure compact. 

[RELATED: <New Grad PT Traveler Recognized Among the “Best”>]

The PT/PTA Compact is a go in 2018

The compact will require clinicians to be licensed in their primary state of residence and a “compact privilege” for the state where he or she wants to practice. The home state license must remain unencumbered, with a clean disciplinary record for at least two years prior to seeking a compact privilege. 

PTs and PTAs who want to join would need to follow the regulations and scope of practice in the state where they are delivering the service, but would not have to maintain separate competency or continuing education requirements – just those in the home state.  

“It’s not as costly as maintaining a license,” Lane said. “It benefits everybody.”

The renewal date for the compact state will be the same as the home state. The compact state can take disciplinary action. If action were taken, the PT or PTA would lose compact privileges in all participating compact states. 

The nursing profession already has a compact, and half of the states participate. Physicians and emergency medical services officials have created compacts or are developing one. 

APTA worked with FSBPT in drafting the language for an interstate compact agreement, which was finalized in 2015. States must enact the compact language uniformly without any changes or amendments to join the Physical Therapy Licensure Compact.

Moving forward 

“We have six more states [to go], and we expect to get that next year,” Lane said. 

Shuman agreed that APTA expects to reach the 10-state threshold in 2017. States can continue to join after that. 

“The vision is all jurisdictions – all 50 states and the District of Columbia – will join the compact,” Shuman said. 

Once 10 states are committed, a commission is formed with a representative from each of the participating states. The commission will go through a process of making rules to implement the compact. Shuman expects that the compact will be functional by 2018.

“This is an incentive for states to join early, when the rules are being developed,” Shuman said. 

Lane suggested PTs and PTAs interested in the licensure compact educate their elected state representatives about the issue and how it will help enhance access for patients. He also recommended collaborating with local professional association chapters and talking with licensing boards to “encourage them to make this happen.”

APTA chapters are advocating for the compact and would welcome PTs willing to assist in that effort, Shuman said. 

Until the compact becomes a reality, Med Travelers recruiters help travelers through the <state physical therapy licensing requirements> when needed, and will continue to help with any process questions and logistics after the implementation.  

FIND top <physical therapy jobs> and other <allied health jobs> with Med Travelers.

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