The House of Delegates of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) have voted to adopt an position that supports a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree as the profession’s entry level educational degree and the regulatory designation PT licensees are legally allowed to use to denote state licensure. According to an APTA news release, the legislative campaign will begin in 2025 to make preparations for a nationwide shift from “PT” to “DPT” as the state licensure designator for all physical therapists in US jurisdictions. The transition will begin in January 2025.

A number of states will need to enact state legislation to amend their state PT licensure law to change licensure designation from “PT” to “DPT” for licensees, as indicated on the APTA news release. The current state licensure designation for all physical therapists, regardless of degree earned, is PT. A supporting statement that accompanies the motion notes, “Most agree that allowing DPT as the state licensure designation is inevitable and that it is just a matter of time.”

The supporting statement also describes a window of opportunity the next few years and states “working together to accomplish what this motion proposes can be a rallying and unifying focus within the profession and will send a clear external message. The uniform state regulatory designation of DPT will affirm that an entire profession is practicing at a doctoring level.”

The APTA news release notes that while state chapters will need to wait until 2025 to initiate any legislative or regulatory change, APTA will immediately begin working out a roadmap for the achievement of this goal. The start date to launch the legislative change in 2025 is an acknowledgement of the time needed to prepare for a uniform change in all US jurisdictions, as well as to time to reach a “critical mass” in which the vast majority of practitioners will have obtained a DPT degree, according to APTA.

The regulatory designation would share an acronym with the doctoral educational degree in physical therapy; however, it would not substitute the degree itself, as indicated on the support statement.

The statement notes, “No one is proposing granting degrees unearned. A unified regulatory designation of DPT demonstrates to our profession and the public the shared competence of the entire profession and the exemplary history of accomplishments in education, research, and practice over the last few decades to arrive at the point where we are recognized as practicing at the doctoring level.”

Source: APTA