It is important to note that laws and rules, as well as standards and policies, can change at any time. It is the licensee’s responsibility to stay abreast of changes, and the best way to do that is through the Alabama Board of Physical Therapy as well as through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).
In Alabama, physical therapists are able to practice based upon the Physical Therapy Practice Act, which is a statute, or a formal written enactment by a legislative body declaring, commanding, or prohibiting something. Read the Practice Act in its entirety and become familiar with it; this course today will only be an overview and will touch on a few key highlights.
A statute is the written will of the legislative body to solemnly express according to the forms necessary to constitute the law of the state. The primary role of the courts is to carry out the intent of the legislature. In our case, legislative acts declare what the practice of physical therapy is – that is, what actions physical therapists can perform, and what actions are prohibited.
Alabama Physical Therapy Practice Act
The Alabama Physical Therapy Practice Act is contained in Section 34-24. This chapter shall be known as the Alabama Physical Therapy Practice Act.
As noted, the board may adopt new rules or amend existing ones between complete editions, and if so, will list those on its website also.
The legislative purpose and intent of the Practice Act is to protect the public health and safety and welfare and to provide the state administrative control and supervision over the practice of physical therapy.
Division 1 General Provisions of the Alabama Physical Therapy Practice Act
Definitions give us a common framework from which to begin a discussion on a particular topic or issue. Please review the definitions below for understanding throughout the rest of the course
· Board-The Board of Physical Therapy in Alabama. It was established by Section 34-34-192.
· Foreign Educated Physical Therapist-An individual trained or educated in physical therapy practice outside of the USA or any of its territories.
· Impaired- A physical therapy licensee who is unable to practice physical therapy with reasonable skill and safety due to reasons of illness, inebriation, excessive use of drugs, narcotics, alcohol, chemicals, or other substances, or as a result of any physical or mental condition
· Physical Therapy- The treatment of a human being by the use of exercise, massage, heat, cold water, radiant energy, electricity, or sound for the purpose of correcting or alleviating any physical or mental condition or preventing the development of any physical or mental disability, or the performance of neuromuscular-skeletal tests and measurements to determine the existence and extent of body malfunction. Physical Therapy is to be practiced only upon referral by a physician licensed to practice medicine or surgery, a licensed dentist, licensed chiropractor, licensed physician assistant or registered nurse practitioner both to whom need a supervisory/collaborative practice agreement with a licensed physician. Radiology and electrosurgery is not included under physical therapy.
· Physical Therapist-Person who practices physical therapy
· Physical Therapist Licensee- A physical therapist or physical therapist assistant who is licensed under this practice act
· Physiotherapist-Same as the term “physical therapist” and is used to identify only those persons licensed under this act. The physical therapist may use the letters P.T. or R.P.T with his or her name or place of business.
· Physical Therapist Assistant- A individual who assists the physical therapist and whose treatments require an understanding of physical therapy but do not require professional or advanced training in the anatomical, biological, and physical sciences involved in the practice of physical therapy. The physical therapist assistant practices only under the direction of a licensed physical therapist
· Physical Therapy Aide-An individual who is trained under the direction of a physical therapist and performs only designated and supervised routine tasks related to physical therapy
· Restricted License
o For a physical therapist, a restriction or condition (or both) that the board has placed on a licensee regarding the scope, supervision or place of practice, duration of licensed status, type or condition of patients that the therapist is allowed to provide services.
o For a physical therapist assistant, it is any restriction placed on the licensee by the board
Board of Physical Therapy, 34-24-192 Generally
Composition of members
· Board consists of seven members with four physical therapist members, two physical therapist assistants and one consumer member.
· Members are appointed by the Governor from a list of five who were nominated by current licensees and certified by the board.
· The four physical therapist members are nominated from congressional districts and the physical therapist assistant members are to be nominated from the northern and southern areas of the state. A congressional district shall not be represented by two physical therapists when possible. The complete procedure for nominations is stated further in the practice act.
· The board membership is to be inclusive and reflect the racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural, and economic diversity of the state.
· Terms are staggered so that one board member expires each year. Terms are five years and an individual cannot be appointed for more than two consecutive terms.
Qualification of members
Physical Therapist and physical therapist assistant board members need to have the following qualifications:
· Resident and citizen of the state of Alabama
· Practiced physical therapy as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant in the state of Alabama for three years prior to appointment
· No disciplinary action against his or her license for three years prior to appointment to the board.
If there is a vacancy within a year of the annual meeting of the original selection, the governor will choose another name from the list. A vacancy occurring prior to the next annual meeting after the initial appointment is filled by the Governor from a list of five names submitted by the current licensees of the board.
The board selects members in specific roles so that one as chair, one as secretary, and one as treasurer. All members of the board will receive a fee set by the board for each day performing their duties and will be reimbursed according to the state travel policy for other expenses.
Powers and Duties of the Board, Certification Fee, Administrative Fines and Impaired Practitioner Program, 34-24-193
· The board may pass upon the qualifications of applicants for licensing as physical therapists and physical therapists assistants, conduct examinations, issue licenses, and renewals to qualified physical therapists and physical therapist assistants under the practice act.
· May revoke or suspend licenses
· For the performance of the board’s duties, the board can adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with law as the board deems necessary.
· Board will maintain a list of every physical therapist and physical therapist assistant licensed in Alabama including the last place of business, personal home address, date, and the number of the license.
· That list of licenses is available after application to the board and payment set by the board.
· Board may hire personnel as needed to administer the provisions of the practice act
· Board hires and establishes the responsibilities and salary of the executive director.
· Board may set and receive a fee certifying a licensee is in good standing with the Alabama board
· Board may collect a fee continuing education providers
· Board may discipline licensees by collecting fines (not more than $1000 per each violation) and may progress to legal proceedings to obtain compliance.