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Physical Therapy Continuing Education

Physical Therapy Continuing Education

Examining Physical Therapy Continuing Education

Physical therapy continuing education is required for physical therapists and assistants throughout the duration of their careers in order to stay current in the ever-advancing world of medicine and technology. There are more than 120,000 licensed physical therapists in the U.S., helped by over 30,000 physical therapy assistants, rehabilitating everyone from kids with scoliosis to athletes recovering from sports injuries.


Each of the state medical boards requires every physical therapist and physical therapist's assistant to achieve a certain number of acceptable CE credits before re-registering his or her license. 

The requirements for the number and type of CE credits differ by state. A CE contact hour is considered 50 minutes of educational time. One Continuing Education Unit (CEU), on the other hand, equals 10 'contact hours'. South Carolina accepts 3 CEUs for 30 contact hours. Check with your individual state's requirements before assuming any knowledge of what is required.

Physical therapy continuing education courses must be accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). These courses do not necessarily fall under the Category 1 classification system used by the American Medical Association. The APTA generally accepts programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Some good resources for physical therapists who are investigating physical therapy continuing education programs:

The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is a professional organization for those in the field of physical therapy. With over 65,000 members, APTA 'fosters advancements in physical therapy practice, research and education'. Find them at www.apta.org.

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) is the organization that provides accreditation by 'careful internal and external review and reports; on-site visits by qualified reviewers; and demonstrated compliance with established evaluative criteria and guidelines'. They can be found through the www.apta.org site.

The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (www.fsbpt.org) set the standards for state requirements in physical therapy. The Federation is responsible for administering the National Physical Therapy Examinations to all physical therapists and physical therapists assistants.