April 20, 2007

The state of Washington Wednesday became the 39th jurisdiction in the United States to license physical therapist assistants (PTAs) when Gov Christine Gregoire signed SB 5292 into law.

The legislation, sponsored by Washington State Sen Darlene Fairley (D), was strongly supported by the Washington Chapter.

"Our legislative team worked hard with all stakeholder groups, which resulted in there being no opposition to our bill," Rich Bettesworth, PT, president of the chapter, said. "Equally hard work with legislators facilitated a successful legislative process."

Licensure is appropriate for PTAs, the chapter believes, because licensure is the only regulation that guarantees the highest degree of public protection, ensuring that all PTAs will be regulated and have the appropriate education and training background. Thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico license PTAs.

"The American Physical Therapy Association applauds the passage of this important legislation to provide for the licensure of physical therapist assistants," said APTA (www.apta.org) President R Scott Ward, PT, PhD. "Physical therapist assistants are an integral part of the physical therapy team, and this legislation provides the necessary recognition and regulation to ensure their continued contribution to the profession."

Evidence presented to the Washington State Department of Health demonstrated harm done to patients due to the lack of regulation of PTAs. Because the bordering states of Oregon and Idaho regulate PTAs, evidence indicated that Washington  has become a "magnet state" for PTAs in those states who have been disciplined for improper and illegal practice.

Source: APTA