Friday, July 16, 2010

Federation Discrimination?

As was mentioned in the Monday posting, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy immediately has barred graduates of Physical Therapy university programs in the Philippines, India, Egypt and Pakistan from taking the U.S. National Physical Therapy Exam. Since our post on Monday more news has come out:

- The ban impacts anyone who has received their first professional degree from a school in the four named countries. For example, an applicant presently in a United States Masters PT program would be barred from taking the NPTE if s/he previously received a degree from a Philippine university.

- The Federation has been involved in a lawsuit in the Philippines for several years. The lawsuit is based upon past incidents of alleged cheating.

- The “cheating” appears to be allegations of tests-takers memorizing questions and then regurgitating the questions to other students.

- There does not appear to be any allegation that any universities in the four countries engaged in any malfeasance. The cheating allegations are limited to certain test takers and certain review centers.

- More countries may be added to the banned list.

While the Federation needs to preserve the integrity of the test, the Federation’s remedy is overbroad and perhaps illegal. US law does not allow discrimination on the basis of national origin. US law also assures all of due process and equal protection.

The Federation will likely argue that their approach – banning graduates of Universities in the Philippines, India, Egypt and Pakistan -- is not a ban on nationals of those countries. This appears to be a distinction without a difference. The vast majority of university graduates are nationals of the country where the university is located.

MU has been working with industry leaders to craft a reply and a response to the Federation. We ask that Therapists and employers of Therapists contact their
State Board of Physical Therapy to protest the Federation’s actions. If the State Boards hear from enough people, they may prompt the Federation to change their approach. Please take a minute to contact your State Board.


  1. what I'm afraid about this ban on these specific mentioned countries and then to take the once a yr exam which is a different set of exams is that they can make it very difficult to limit their entrance to the US. In a way it can be discriminatory because you are not testing them on the same level field. The examinees will perceive it that way irregardless of how much they say no. I think the best solution is to redo the exam questions and test all on the same exam so that there is no perception of bias.

  2. FSBPT needs to install a random test question generator in its testing system and have a pool of about 2,000 questions like the NCSBN has done for the NCLEX examination. I dare anyone to game a pool of 2,000 questions. That is like trying to count cards into a 7-deck shoe in blackjack.

    While US law does not allow discrimination on the basis of national origin; and US law also assures all of due process and equal protection - I am concerned that foreign situated PTs in their own country have standing with the US courts.

    What is needed is a filing on behalf of foreign PTs in America, such as may be on visitors' visas, that cannot test. Being on US soil would, for sure, give them standing. I think that I can find a few.

    Phil Slaton
    The Icon Group

  3. The ban that is being imposed by FSBPT is unjust and unreasonable.

    Imagine the International Olympic Committee saying, "Several American athletes have been found to be using steroids. Therefore, the IOC has decided to ban all Americans from participating in the 2012 London Olympics. The ban is inspired by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy." Now imagine the International Court of Justice saying, "The Nazis have been found to be guilty of genocide. And because they were Germans, this court has decided to punish all Germans by banning them from going out of Germany within the next twelve months. This ban is inspired by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy." Finally, imagine the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services saying, "The Taliban, a terrorist organization, happens to be based in Afghanistan. Therefore, the USCIS has decided to ban all Afghans from entering the US. This ban is inspired the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy."

    Some US laws can be expected to be biased in favor of US citizens, but some other laws are supposed to apply equally to all. The same can be said about policies; some policies can be expected to be biased in favor of US citizens; but some other policies are supposed to apply to all. If you will join the Boston Marathon, it is reasonable to expect that the rules apply to all participants. It would be ridiculous for the marathon organizers to say, "Non-US citizens who are participating in this marathon are not allowed to wear shoes. Well, the rules are simply biased in favor of US citizens". A licensure examination is supposed to test a graduate's competency, not the location of the school he or she went to, so there should be a level playing field with regard to licensure examinations.

    A review center in New Jersey and another one in Texas were found by FSBPT to have infringed on its intellectual property rights, and yet FSBPT did not ban New Jersey-educated and Texan-educated physical therapists from taking the NPTE. Well, those who want to join the Boston Marathon can at least prepare for it with the assurance that the marathon organizers are not like the FSBPT. I wonder what will happen if all US institutions will follow FSBPT's example. Imagine this: the US Golf Association announces, "Non-US citizens who have engaged in extra-marital sex are banned from participating in the US Open Golf Championship out of respect for the moral sensibilities of the people of the United States. But the ban does not apply to Tiger Woods because, well, he is a US citizen". Perhaps even he would not approve of such a ban. If FSBPT will not observe fair play, it should not promote fair play. Some things require moral ascendancy; you can not promote sexual purity if you are a prostitute.

    In January 2007, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (a Philippine government agency), in cooperation with FSBPT, raided SLRC. Surely the names of the reviewees were discovered. Did FSBPT ban those reviewees from taking the NPTE? No; in April 2007, FSBPT nullified the scores of 20 NPTE takers from the Philippines, but at least they were not banned from taking the NPTE. In July 2010, or three years and six months after the raid, FSBPT started banning all Philippine-educated physical therapists from taking the NPTE. It's like punishing Cristiano Ronaldo and other Portuguese football players for colonization-related wrongdoings of Portugal generations ago.


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