The Joint Ventures' Blog

What Are Your Physical Therapists Credentials?

Friday, May 17, 2013

When your physical therapist hands you his or her business card, do you ever look at the credentials after the name and scratch your head?  OCS?  CSCS?  DPT?  ART?

What do those letters mean anyway?  In many cases, they represent years of study and preparation that your physical therapist has completed in order to bring you the best and most effective care.  They can indicate physical therapy education as well as advanced training in a variety of areas.  Let’s translate some of them for you:

The Education Basics

PT, MPT, MSPT, or DPT:  These letters represent the graduate degree that your physical therapist earned.  The field has evolved with time.  For many years, therapists earned a bachelor's degree prior to becoming licensed.  Colleges and universities later transitioned to master's degree programs.  If your therapist has the letters MPT or MSPT, this indicates a master's degree in physical therapy.  Most programs today now train therapists for a DPT degree, which stands for doctorate of physical therapy.

Beyond these basic education credentials, there are a slew of other letter combinations you may find.

Many therapists earn specialty certification from the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialities, overseen by the American Physical Therapy Association.  About 13,000 therapists in the U.S. have earned this.  To earn specialty credentialing, PTs often need to have a minimum of 2000 hours of direct patient care in the specialty area, or to complete a residency.  They also need to study for and complete a competency test.

You may see the following letters indicating that your therapist is a “specialist” in one or more of the following areas:

OCS: Orthopaedics

CCS: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation

GCS: Geriatrics

NCS: Neurology

SCS: Sports

ECS: Clinical Electrophysiology

PCS: Pediatrics

WCS: Women’s Health

And the list of possible letters continues. Therapists with ART after their name have full certification in Active Release Technique.  The ATC tag means that your therapist doubles as a certified athletic trainer. CKT indicates certification in the KinesioTape technique.  CSCS recognizes individuals who are certified strength and conditioning specialists through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. A therapist can become a CMPT, “Certified Manual Physical Therapist,” or even better, a COMT, “Certified Orthopaedic Manual Therapist,” through advanced courses and testing from the North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy. 

Physical therapy is an ever changing field with new research-based programs and approaches incorporated in daily treatments all the time.  So the next time you see some of these letters after a therapists name, you can be confident that you’re receiving the highest quality, most up-to-date care.  Please contact me at Sophia.Maines@JointVenturesPT.com, if you have any other questions about PT credentialing!

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