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Toni Talks about PT Today

What Are They Thinking?

Published May 18, 2010 6:37 PM by Toni Patt

At the PT 2010 conference in June, the Oxford Debate topic will be if practicing physical therapists should be grandfathered and granted the use of DPT as the clinical designation. They must be out of their collective minds to even consider such a thing. Over the last few years there has been a push for practicing PTs to get a transitional DPT. Doing this would undo everything that accomplished.

Having a DPT is an indication of a specific level of knowledge and skill achieved. It's accepted that anyone with the degree is at that level. Awarding the degree to anyone practicing therapy without additional education or skills would eliminate any significance attached to the degree. I have a DPT. I know. There is a noticeable knowledge difference between someone with the degree and someone without. Give a DPT to everyone and you might as well start working on a new degree because it will be worthless.

Sadly there are many practicing therapists who shouldn't be practicing. Some have become too comfortable and let their skills lag. Others have burned out. Others may have passed the boards but really shouldn't be practicing. In the course of the last year I've worked with several of each. They no more deserve a DPT than I do a medical degree.

A blanket DPT would also hand evidence-based practice a setback it will take years to recover from. Just who do they think is looking at the evidence in the first place, the DPTs or someone who hasn't looked at a journal in years? Except for an occasional journal club, none of the therapists I work with look at the literature. We have a disconnect because I use the literature and they don't believe I've learned anything different.

We can also kiss practice without referral goodbye since we'll have no standard to indicate who is capable of doing so and who isn't. DPTs are bombarded with peripheral joint and outpatient medicine. They are exposed to X-rays, medications and treatments appropriate for working in an outpatient setting. I'll never be convinced someone has gained the same knowledge level simply by working in a clinic. There are some excellent clinicians out there who could make me eat those words. They are a minority of those working in outpatient clinics.

I have no problem with grandfathering practicing PTs so they can continue to practice. My problem is the awarding of the title. If I'd have known this was coming, I might have waited and avoided the expense and effort that goes with obtaining the degree. Why bother if it's going to be given to me? I truly hope the debate is simply a debate instead of a trial balloon for actually doing such a thing. So far I've been a loyal PT, supported my profession, paid my dues and toed the party line. Giving everyone a DPT will cause me to rethink some of that. I'll still get the PhD but APTA membership isn't a requirement to do so.


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June 19, 2013 6:44 PM

I think it would be simple enough for the APTA to develop and administer a test to allow grandfathering.  The test can show that the experience a PT has obtained in effect is equivalent to obtaining the DPT.  In all honesty I think that all professional development is important.  The informal and formal development that many experienced PTs have participated in over many years should be rewarded.  In all honesty there are far more PTs who have participated in professional development and are expert clinicians whose experience and knowledge is equivalent to the DPT.  

R M January 20, 2012 5:03 AM

I was a the oxford debate.  It was a tongue and cheek debate.  It was hilarious. I understand that they wil not grandfather people until 90% of PT are DPTs.  I went back and earned my tDPT.  I learned a lot of things that were different since getting my degree 15 years before.  I was the first person where I work to get one.  We now have 2 people with tDPT and 2 with DPT.  We have 12 PTs. One of your PTAs is starting in a DPT program in a couple weeks. The other PT do not see the financial benifit of going back.  They prefer to put their money in CEUs.  Unfortunately, reimbursement has not improved with the new degree requirements.  If anything, it has gone down in the last several years.

As a CI and CCCE, I am frustrated with new grads who think they are hot stuff.  I had one new grad saw that BS degrees were like high school diplomas.  She did not take into account the 30 years experience that one PT had including taking the NDT certifcation course.  

Mary, Pediatrics - PT, DPT, PCS August 17, 2010 6:25 PM

ms danielle got a point and she clearly stated. and yes ms toni got a point too. but i think ms. toni is more disappointed that she already spent that much time and money to earn this degree rather than the real issue of granting DPT to a BSPT. if it is the other way around you maybe happy that they are talking about the issue.

every PT should have the initiative to take their skills to the next level and that is the truth.

but for ms. toni if belittling other PT w/ BS makes you feel better about yourself and worthy of the title, go right ahead honey! whatever stops the tears.

Olivia June 15, 2010 5:32 PM

No one has taken issue with Toni's stance - just her attitude, which does nothing to higher anyone's opinion of PTs.

anonymous May 25, 2010 1:19 AM

I completely agree with Toni! Unless you've busted your butt through  DPT school you shouldn't get the DPT label.  There is nothing wrong with letting those with years of experience continue practicing.  However it undermines new graduates with a DPT. As well as what is trying to be accomplished with the DPT - direct access, and a higher public opinion of PT's.

Shelby May 25, 2010 12:19 AM

annie, if you bothered to click the "about blog and author" you'd know that she has 20+ years of experience.  therefore, she is speaking from her personal experience as a therapist of many years, not a a new grad.

further, i find it disgusting that you look down on new grads so much - this is part of what toni was actually talking about!

frank May 19, 2010 11:35 PM

After reading this article, I am very curious to know how long Toni Platt has been working in the field. The article would be more meaningful with that information. As it is Ms. Platt sounds like a know it all graduate student wtih no respect for her peers with years of  clinical experience.

annie May 19, 2010 2:20 PM

I'm there with Danielle! Well said, thank you Danielle.

Dean Metz May 19, 2010 12:52 PM

Well said Danielle.

Jane May 19, 2010 12:53 AM

As a PT with a BS degree and 15 years of experience I agree that simply conferring the DPT credentials on BS and MS therapists does not really serve a tangible purpose.  I also give credit to those who have completed the DPT, it would not be fair to all of you to grandfather the rest of us.  

However, I do take issue with the inference that the title of DPT is an assurance that therapists are keeping up on their skills, reviewing journal articles and are the professionals who are worthy of still being in practice.  It is incredibly insulting to the rest of us who have done all of those things over the years, and frankly, have become quite accomplished even with what you seem to consider a slacker's degree.  I have failed more than one DPT student who did well academically and failed miserably when they actually had to apply that knowledge in a patient care setting.  

Your comments, though narrow minded and biased, make broad assumptions and accusations.  The degree does not guarantee the quality of the therapist by any stretch and it is arrogant to assert otherwise.  Your comments essentially accuse anyone without a DPT as being "less than" and do little more than highlight the rampant elitism that has cause such derision among the PT community on this topic in recent years.  

Danielle May 18, 2010 7:35 PM

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May 18, 2010 7:22 PM

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