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AMERICAN BOARD OF PHYSICAL THERAPY SPECIALITIES: ENHANCING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH CERTIFICATION. The Path to Clinical Excellence. MultidimensionalPatient-centered. Collaborative with patient- Reflective Practice. Clinical Reasoning. Knowledge. Philosophy of PT Practice.

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Presentation Transcript
clinical excellence necessities


Collaborative with patient- Reflective Practice

Clinical Reasoning


Philosophy of PT Practice

Primary focus; Centered on function



Caring, Commitment Ethical Practice

Clinical Excellence: Necessities

Jensen GM et al (2000) Phys Ther 80(1):28 – 43.

clinical excellence the common path
Clinical Excellence: The Common Path

Entry level graduation

Years of experience

Continuing education



Post –professional residency


Post-professional degrees


Upon completion of this presentation, you'll be able to:

  • Understand the Specialty Certification process
  • Understand the ABPTS certification and maintenance of specialty certification program
  • Describe the process for certification and maintenance of specialty certification
  • Describe the minimum eligibility requirements for certification and recertification for specialization
  • List the current areas of Areas of Specialty Practice
  • Describe the role of clinical residencies in the certification process
  • Identify top motivations to pursue ABPTS Specialty certification
what is clinical specialty certification
What is Clinical Specialty Certification?
  • Specialization is a process for physical therapist
    • Established to provide formal recognition for physical therapists with advanced clinical knowledge, experience, and skillsin a special area of practice
    • Professional education and development
    • Clinical Expertise in specific areas of practice
  • Clinical specialization responds to a specific area of patient need
  • Assist consumers and the health care community in identifying physical therapists who are specialists in a unique area of practice
physical therapy specialist certification

Physical Therapy Specialist Certification

Recognizing Clinical Excellence

what does clinical specialization require
What does Clinical Specialization Require?
  • Broad based foundation of physical therapy education and clinical practice

Combined with…

  • Depth and breadth of knowledge in specialty area


Advanced clinical expertise, skills, and experience unique to a specialized practice area

Expertise in clinical reasoning applied to specialty practice area

What does Clinical Specialization Require?


how does our profession recognize advanced knowledge clinical expertise
How does our profession recognize advanced knowledge & clinical expertise?
  • Clinicians who have specialized area of practice and seek professional recognition and advancement
  • Engage in rigorous process for Board Specialty Certification
    • Application criteria and standards
    • Board examination
    • Maintenance of specialty certification
  • Process overseen by American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS)
    • Specialty Councils
purposes of board certification
Purposes of Board Certification

Promote highest possible level of physical therapy care

Promote ongoing development of science and art underlying each specialty practice

purposes of board certification1
Purposes of Board Certification

Recognize specialists through a reliable and valid method for certification of specialty practitioners

Identify for the consumers and the health care community physical therapists who are specialists in a unique area of practice

important elements of board certification
Important Elements of Board Certification




areas of specialty practice recognized through board certification
Areas of Specialty Practice Recognized through Board Certification

Cardiovascular & Pulmonary

Clinical Electrophysiologic






Women’s Health

minimum eligibility requirements for clinical specialization certification
Minimum Eligibility Requirements for Clinical Specialization Certification

Current license to practice physical therapy in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands

Practice eligibility requirement is 2,000 hours minimum of direct patient carein the specialty area, 25% (500) of which must have occurred in the last 3 years.

minimum eligibility requirements
Minimum Eligibility Requirements
  • Direct patient care
    • must include activities in each of the elements of patient/client management applicable to the specialty area and included in the Description of Specialty Practice
minimum eligibility requirements1
Minimum Eligibility Requirements
  • Practice elements of patient/client management as defined in the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice
    • Examination
    • Evaluation
    • Diagnosis
    • Prognosis
    • Intervention
minimum eligibility requirements2
Minimum Eligibility Requirements

Other requirements specific to the specialty such as:

Emergency care certification

ACLS certification

Patient reports

Case reflections

other options to meet the eligibility requirements for specialty certification
Other Options to Meet the Eligibility Requirements for Specialty Certification

Clinical Residency

A planned program of post-professional clinical and didactic education that is designed to advance significantly the physical therapist's preparation as a provider of patient care services in a defined area of clinical practice

Specialty councils may allow completion of an APTA-credentialed clinical residency to replace all or a portion of the practice eligibility requirements

assessment board examination
AssessmentBoard Examination

Another exam!!!

  • The Specialty Councils of ABPTS develop the specialist certification examinations
  • Specialists must pass a rigorous examination that tests the applicationof advanced knowledge and clinical skills
    • In conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners
    • Criterion referenced exam
assessment of specialty practice expertise
Assessment of Specialty Practice & Expertise

Patient Care





Interpretation of Research

Components of the Examination

how are advanced clinical knowledge and skills determined for board certification
How are advanced clinical knowledge and skills determined for Board Certification?
  • Description of Specialty Practice (DSP)
    • Describes the advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities for clinical practice in the specialty area
    • Reliable and valid process for assessing expertise domain and current standards of specialty practice
description of specialty practice dsp
Description of Specialty Practice (DSP)

Based on data from an extensive practice analysis research study

Conducted by Specialty Councils and ABPTS

Document from which the certification exam is developed

professional development path toward clinical specialization
Professional Development Path Toward Clinical Specialization
  • Clinical experience in specialty area
  • Seek mentor
    • Board certified specialist
  • Professional development
    • Knowledge and skills
    • Continuing Education
    • Post professional clinical residency
    • Post professional education
how to prepare for the board certification
How to Prepare for the Board Certification?


Description of Specialty Practice

Resources available from APTA sections

Recommended textbooks

Reading lists

Advanced Clinical Practice Courses

Study Groups

***ABPTS does not approve or review material or course content

specialist certification application process
Specialist Certification Application Process


APTA Professional Development office


July of the preceding year

To sit for the 2012 exam, applications must be postmarked by July 31, 2011

Each application undergoes a review to evaluate eligibility of the applicant to sit for board examination

specialty certification fees
Specialty Certification Fees

APTA memberNon-member

Applicant Review $500 $845

Examination $800 $1,525

Total $1,300 $2,370

Certification is valid for ten years with no maintenance fees

when is the certification exam administered
When is the certification exam administered?

Exams are offered once per year for a two-week exam period

Candidates may sit for the exam between February-March

2011– February 26–March 12, 2011


examination format
Examination Format
  • Computerized examinations, administered at Prometric, Inc. testing centers
  • FORMAT: Multiple choice questions including case scenarios, videos, pictures
recognition of certified clinical specialists
Recognition of Certified Clinical Specialists

Recognized at Opening Ceremony of APTA Combined Sections Meeting (CSM)

Recognized by sections and chapters

Inclusion in online Directory of Certified Specialists

Only individuals who have successfully completed the ABPTS certification process may use the term “Board-Certified Clinical Specialist”

board certified clinical specialist certified specialist initials
Board-Certified Clinical Specialist- Certified Specialist Initials

CCS - Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Certified Specialist

ECS - Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist

GCS - Geriatric Certified Specialist

NCS - Neurologic Certified Specialist

OCS - Orthopaedic Certified Specialist

PCS - Pediatric Certified Specialist

SCS - Sports Certified Specialist

WCS - Women’s Health Certified Specialist

top 3 work settings certified clinical specialists
Top 3 Work Settings:Certified Clinical Specialists

Private PT Office

Health system or hospital-based outpatient facility or clinic

Academic Institution

top 4 positions held by certified clinical specialists
Top 4 Positions held by Certified Clinical Specialists

Supervisor/Director of PT

Staff or Senior PT

Sole Owner/Partner PT Practice

Academic Faculty

top motivations to pursue abpts certification
Top Motivations to Pursue ABPTS Certification
  • Proof of expertise in specialty area
  • Personal challenge or achievement
  • Professional career goal
  • Earn a credential that reflects advanced practice to patients, physicians, & payers

Source: Survey of certified specialists (2007)

what is the impact of the board certification process on the specialists
What is the impact of the board certification process on the specialists?

Specialists report that board certification has had a positive impact on . . .

Sense of personal achievement

Self-confidence & professional growth

Patient care, including better outcomes

Increased credibility with patients & referral sources

Recognition in clinical, academic and community settings

Sources: Survey of certified specialists (2007)

how has board specialty certification influenced specialists careers
How has board specialty certification influenced specialists careers?
  • Opened doors for professional growth
    • Consultations
    • Invited Presentations
    • New job opportunities
    • Leadership & service
    • Teaching opportunities
    • Research collaboration
    • Networking
do employers support the certification process
Do employers support the certification process?

Employer Support of ABPTS Certification

48% of employers pay at least some of the costs associated with obtaining clinical specialization.

Of these employers, 64% indicate that they subsidize all the costs of obtaining specialist certification

Value expertise of specialist

High patient care standards

Serve as mentors for others

Provide team leadership

Source: Survey of candidates (2007)

value of abpts certification to certified specialists
Value of ABPTS Certificationto Certified Specialists

79% report that certification is a indicator of clinical competence

90% report that certification is an indicator of depth and breadth of knowledge in an area of specialty practice

High rate (68%) of specialist choose to recertify

Source: Survey of certified specialists (2007)

is there a renewal process for the specialty certification
Is there a Renewal Process for the Specialty Certification ?
  • Yes!!
  • What is the process?
    • Maintenance of Specialty Certification
    • Currency of clinical practice and expertise in the specialty
    • Currency of advanced knowledge and skills in the specialty
maintenance of specialty certification process
Maintenance of Specialty Certification Process

Initial Certification is valid for 10 years.

To maintain the credential, a specialist must meet the requirements of maintenance of certification before his or her certificate expires

ABPTS has developed process for assessing currency and recertification standards

Ensures to the public the validity of advanced skills and expertise of the specialist

purpose of maintenance of specialty certification
Purpose of Maintenance of Specialty Certification

To verify current competence as an advanced practitioner in the specialty area

Evaluation of professional development and clinical experience

To encourage ongoing education and professional growth

maintenance of specialty certification requirements
Maintenance of Specialty Certification Requirements

Direct patient care hours in specialty (2000 hr)

Professional Development Portfolio (PDP) OR

Current written examination


Maintenance of Specialty Competency

Continued Competency Process in development

professional development portfolio
Professional Development Portfolio
  • Documentation of professional development activities and advanced clinical practice related to specialty practice since initial certification
  • Examples:
    • Continuing Education courses
    • Clinical Supervision
    • College/University courses
    • Teaching continuing education or college courses
    • Research presentations (platform or poster)
    • Presentations to professional groups, classes, or in-services
    • Presentations to community or client-based groups
    • Author or editor of book chapters, journal articles, grant proposals
    • Committee membership in professional organization
    • Consultation
board certified clinical specialists1
Board Certified Clinical Specialists
  • Professionals with clinical expertise
  • Advancing our profession
  • Making a difference in lives of our patients


for more information contact
For more information contact


Residency/Fellowship & Specialist Certification Department

1111 North Fairfax Street

Alexandria, VA 22314

800/999-2782, ext 8520

literature about specialization or specialists
Literature about Specialization or Specialists

Bryan J, Blake A. How do other health care professionals view specialist certification? PT Magazine. 2004;12(9):54-57.

Bryan J, Gill-Body K, Blake A. How employers view specialist certification. PT Magazine. 2003;11(1):50-51.

Thompson M. The role of higher education in the career paths

of board-certified clinical specialists in geriatric physical

therapy: implications for professional and post professional education. JPhys Ther Educ. 2001;15(2):10-16.

literature about specialization or specialists1
Literature about Specialization or Specialists

Hart DL, Dobrzykowski EZ. Influence of orthopaedic clinical specialist certification on clinical outcomes

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2000;30(4):183-193

Milidonis MK, Godges JJ, Jensen GM. Nature of clinical practice for specialists in orthopaedic physical therapy.

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1999;29(4):240-247

Ellison J, Becker M, Nelson AJ. Attitudes of physical therapists who possess sports specialist certification.

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1997;25(6):400-406

literature about specialization or specialists2
Literature about Specialization or Specialists

Smith LC. The decision to specialize. 2001;9(6):52-59

Edmonds MM. What if? PT Magazine. 1999;7(4):44-49

Wynn KE. Why recertify? PT Magazine. 1996;4(11):68-70

Williams DO. Answering the bell: PTs & school sports.

PT Magazine. 1996;4(12):36-39

Woods EN. What’s so special about specialist certification? PT Magazine. 1994;2(2):46-51

Ferrier MPB. One stage in professional evolution.

Clinical Management. 1991;11(2):66-70