Rhode Island

United States Physical Therapy Practice Acts

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Temporary License Requirements/Availability[edit | edit source]

According to Rhode Island's Practice Act, temporary license is available for graduate students.  In order for the student to be eligible to apply, they are required to have graduated from a program accredited by CAPTE and have filed the appropriate documentation and application with the Board.

Following approval, the student will practice under the supervision of a physical therapist licensed in Rhode Island.  The documentation that is completed by the student is required to be signed as G.P.T (Graduate Physical Therapist).  Their temporary license will be automatically revoked if the applicant fails to take the licensure exam within 90 days following their graduation date or if they fail to pass the exam.   

Requirements for License[edit | edit source]

In order to be considered for licensure in Rhode Island, the applicant is required to submit written forms to the Board that verify the following has been met:[1]

a) is at least eighteen (18) years of age;
b) is of good moral character;
c) has graduated from an education program in physical therapy accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) or other accrediting agency as approved by the Department in consultation with the Board
d) has passed the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) of the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) or other physical therapy certification examination as approved by the Department in consultation with the Board to determine the applicant’s fitness to engage in the practice of physical therapy. 

An applicant can receive duly licensure to practice in the state of Rhode Island without taking the NPTE.  The applicant will be issued a license if the Board believes they have adequately fulfilled the requirements put forth from the state.  An application must be filed 30 days prior to meeting with the Board and have completed all licensure forms and fees. In addition, supporting documentation may be required.

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All initial examinations, treatment protocols and discharges will be complied and completed by the physical therapist only and not by the physical therapist assistant or other support personnel.  When a physical therapist assistant is treating patients, a physical therapist must be available via telecommunications at all times.  All initial examinations, treatment protocols and discharges will be complied and completed by the physical therapist

A physical therapy studentThe supervising physical therapist must also make themselves immediately available to the student while they are engaged with a patient.  

A physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant must be available and located on the same premises when a physical therapist assistant student or other supportive personnel is conducting a treatment session with a patient. 

The physical therapist is required to maintain the following documentation in regards to supervision of a physical therapist assistant:[1] 
a) necessary instruction

b) on-site supervision of the physical therapist assistant's performance

c) review of the physical therapist assistant’s documentation

d) a reassessment

e) appropriate update of the patient's program and goals.

These components of written documentation are required to be completed when a re-evaluation is indicated for the patient or at least once a month.  

In regards to the requirements for  supervision of documentation in regards to supportive personnel, the following is required to be maintained:[1]
a) necessary instruction and documented competence

b) line-of-sight supervision of the treatment 

c) review of the supportive personnel’s documentation on a daily basis.

Physical Therapy Students
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The Act allows a student to retake the NPTE 3 times without further approval.  In order for a student to qualify to re-take the examiniation following 3 failed attempts the individual must request a formal meeting with the Board,  The decision for additional coursework and/or training will be made prior to a future re-examination attempt[1]

Temporary licensure is available in Rhode Island and the requirements to apply are listed above in the section entitiled, "Temporary Liscense Requirements/Available".

Continued Competence[edit | edit source]

The Act states that the physical therapist and the physical therapist assistant is responsible for his/her individual professional development and continued competence in physical therapy.[1]  The number of hours required are not listed in the Act, however, according to the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT), Rhode Island requires 20-29 hours of continuing education requirements for licensure. 

Does the Act appear restrictive? Why/Why not?[edit | edit source]

The Practice Act does not prohibit direct access, however, restrictions are placed on physical therpists who treat patients through direct access.  The Act requires the following:[1]

  • obtain informed consent
  • refer the patient to a doctor of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, podiatry, or chiropractic within ninety (90) days after the initial evaluation, however, a physical therapist shall not be required to make such a referral after treatment is concluded.

The Act also states that a physical therapist with less then one year experience is prohibited from treating a patient without a referral from a doctor of medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, podiatry, or chiropractic.

Is there anything unusual about this act?[edit | edit source]

There are two unusual components contained in the Act regarding the section discussing licensure requirements.  Within the list of requirements, it states that the applicant must be of good moral character and be over the age of 18.  The unusal aspect of requiring an applicant to be of good moral character lies in the states ability to measure such an entity.  The statement requiring the individual to be over the age of 18 seems unneccssary.  

References[edit | edit source]

References will automatically be added here, see adding references tutorial.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Rhode Island Rules and Regulations For Licensing Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants. http://sos.ri.gov/dar_filing/regdocs/released/pdf/DOH/4833.pdf (accessed 17 April 2012)

Disclaimer:   Informational Content is assimilated from the state practice act is a resource only and should not be considered a  substitute for the content within the state practice act.  All state practice acts can change and it is recommended that you refer to the original resource in the link above.