Starting November 1, 2014, the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) will eliminate the distinction between General Education and Professional Education. This is a modification of the Interpretive Guidelines for the FSBPT Coursework Tool (CWT).
The Coursework Tool accepted by all member boards to evaluate whether a foreign educated PT or PTA’s education is substantially equivalent to a US PT or PTA education.
FSBPT’s Board issued a comprehensive notice letting the public know that the Board “did not approve this change lightly”. The Board explained that the elimination of the distinction had been considered for several years and had been recommended by the FSBPT’s Foreign Educated Standards Committee. Notably, within US education and within the criteria developed by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), there is no such term as general education. The new policy does not to eliminate the required courses within General Education, but it does eliminate the artificial distinction between Professional Education and General Education.
For foreign-educated PTs, this change could be helpful. Presently the CWT requires 150 total credits, which is comparable to what is needed for a US post-graduate degree. In many international PT programs these general courses are embedded into the PT professional courses, not completed ahead of entry. The current model would not allow the evaluator to give credit as a general course since it was taken as part of their professional coursework.
Previously, some foreign-educated PTs education was found to be incomparable to a US-educated because of the distinction between Professional Education and General Education. This resulted in some foreign-educated PTs having to take “make-up” classes, usually from CLEP. As the Board correctly points out, “to ask an applicant to complete a prerequisite after completing professional curriculum seems counterintuitive, and sets up an unreasonable barrier to licensure.”