The APTA 2016 House of Delegates has unanimously approved a motion to create a clinical specialty in oncology, for PTs to treat patients who have experienced cancer, lymphedema, and HIV.
The approval clears a path for PTs to become Certified Oncological Physical Therapists, after completing at least 2,000 hours of relevant clinical practice and successfully passing the certification examination.
Education sources available to PTs interested in pursuing such a path include the APTA Learning Center, the Oncology Section, and its online education partner, EDUCATA.
“Cancer treatments are usually accompanied by severe side effects, from extreme fatigue and weakness to edema and fibrosis,” says Marilyn Pink, CEO of EDUCATA in a media release from the education provider.
“We are proud to provide clinicians with educational resources which will help prepare them for success on the specialty exam and—more importantly—help them provide better care for this patient population,” she adds.
“There are currently an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the US, with well over 1.5 million new cases to be diagnoses yearly,” states Lisa VanHoose, education chair for the Oncology Section of the APTA.
“While the growth in survival rates is wonderful news, it also accentuates the severe shortage of professionals prepared to deliver specific, cancer-related rehabilitation. We simply have to increase the number of specialized PTs that today practice in oncology to meet this growing demand,” she continues.
These oncology specialists will additionally become mentors and resources to therapists who may not routinely treat patients with cancer, notes G. Stephen Morris, president of the oncology section, in the release.
The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) and the APTA Board of Directors presented the motion for the oncology section to the House of Delegates. Its approval makes it the ninth physical therapy recognized by ABPTS.