American Physical Therapy Association

The American Physical Therapy Association (which will, from here on out, be referred to as APTA) is an association that exists to monitor and regulate the physical therapy profession. Like all medical professions out there physical therapy has to follow set standards and rules, and APTA is there to outline and determine those rules as well as to ensure that all who are required to adhere to them do so. This is in the best interests of the general public, but the main aim of the association is to protect the best interests of its members.

Membership & Benefits

There are a number of benefits for physical therapists as well as for physical therapy assistants who are members of APTA, although these benefits may be achieved in slightly different ways for PT and PTAs:

  • APTA advocates for you in Washington, DC, and state capitals nationwide.
  • APTA speaks out for proper payment for high-quality patient care.
  • APTA promotes the benefits of physical therapy.
  • APTA connects you with colleagues for networking and collaboration.
  • APTA saves you money.
  • APTA provides information at your fingertips.
  • APTA promotes evidence-based practice.
  • APTA strengthens your expertise with clinical and practice resources.
  • APTA helps you advance to the next level.

In order to receive these benefits you must be a member of APTA.  The eligibility requirements for membership are fairly easy to adhere to:American Physical Therapy Association

  • You must be a graduate from a CAPTE-accredited PT or PTA program.
  • This program must be accredited at time of your graduation.
  • Previous student membership in APTA is not a necessity for PT or PTA membership.
  • Previous student membership in APTA is not a sufficient condition or qualification for PT or PTA membership.
  • Proof of graduation may be required via submission of supporting documentation.
  • Each state has its own licensure requirements so a copy of licensure would not be acceptable as proof of graduation.

Vision & Strategic Plan

The vision sentence for APTA is: “By 2020, physical therapy will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy, recognized by consumers and other health care professionals as the practitioners of choice to whom consumers have direct access for the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, and environmental barriers related to movement, function, and health”. The association’s comprehensive vision statement contains elements of the following:

  • Autonomous Physical Therapist Practice: You must be allowed to work autonomously, and, in addition, you must be able willing to do so.
  • Direct Access
  • Evidence-based Practice
  • Practitioner of Choice: The vision encompasses the ideal that PTs will be recognized as the preferred providers among consumers and other health care professionals for issues related to movement and bodily function.
  • Professionalism: Physical therapists will be required to adhere to all of the norms and procedures that are related to professionalism.

Honors & Awards Program

The American Physical Therapy Association offers a number of awards and honors to those it deems worthy. These include the following:

Education Awards

  • Dorothy Baethke-Eleanor J. Carlin Award for Excellence in Academic Teaching
  • F.A. Davis Award for Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Educator
  • Margaret L. Moore Award for Outstanding New Academic Faculty Member
  • Minority Initiatives Awards
  • Signe Brunnstrom Award for Excellence in Clinical Teaching

Practice & Service Awards

  • Henry O. and Florence P. Kendall Practice Award
  • Lucy Blair Service Award
  • Marilyn Moffat Leadership Award
  • Outstanding Physical Therapist Assistant Award
  • Outstanding Physical Therapist/Physical Therapist Assistant Team Award

Publications Awards

  • Chattanooga Research Award
  • Dorothy Briggs Memorial Scientific Inquiry Award
  • Helen J. Hislop Award for Outstanding Contributions to Professional Literature
  • Jack Walker Award
  • Jules M. Rothestein Golden Pen Award for Scientific Writing

Research Awards

  • Eugene Michels New Investigator Award
  • Marian Williams Award for Research in Physical Therapy

Additional Awards

  • APTA State Legislative Leadership Award
  • PTA Recognition of Advanced Proficiency


  • Mary McMillan Scholarship Award
  • Minority Scholarship Award

Patient Care

Patient care is your primary roles as a physical therapist. Consequently there are a number of things that you need to know regarding how to care for a patient. This is in relation to the skills you need and the techniques that you must learn. However there is also a legal aspect to patient care that you need to be aware of. On the APTA website there are a number of resources that you can refer to which will provide you with detailed information regarding the following aspects of patient care:

  • Guide to Physical Therapist Practice
  • Balance and Falls
  • Emergency Department & Physical Therapist Practice
  • Family Violence
  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Hospital Readmissions
  • Outcome Measures in Patient Care
  • Oxygen Administration
  • Physical Fitness for Special Populations (PFSP)
  • Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care
  • Seating & Wheeled Mobility
  • Technology in Patient Care
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Vital Signs
  • Wounded Warriors

Each of these resources (which can be found at is aimed at effective patient care that is in the best interests of the patient and the therapist.

Jobs At The American Physical Therapy Association

There are a number of jobs at APTA that you could do with the necessary qualification. In order to view the current job openings offered by the association you can visit  There are a number of benefits that you will be eligible as an employee of APTA. Some of the more compelling ones are listed here:

  • You will have flexible work schedules
  • You will  have access to professional development
  • You will  receive gym membership reimbursement
  • You will  be given a Metro SmarTrip card subsidy

Generally speaking those who work for the association describe it as a great place to work that provides them with benefits and opportunities they would not have access to elsewhere. APTA has an extremely open employment policy and you will be able to get a job there regardless of your race, creed, color, gender, age, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or health status provided you meet the requirements of the job in question. APTA is committed to promoting cultural diversity throughout the profession and this includes creating a culturally diverse and representative work force in its own ranks.

About PT/PTA Careers

There are a number of career related information resources that APTA provides on its website. For one thing there are numerous PDFs that you will have access to detailing the statistics of the career path of physical therapists as well as physical therapy assistants. Comprehensive information regarding the function and roles of physical therapists and physical therapy assistants will also be found here. Part of the career information that you need to know for these career is what your scope of practice is and what you will be required to do in this line of work. The website also gives you insight by providing firsthand accounts from members who successfully become physical therapists and who have good job opportunities. Information exists for current physical therapists and physical therapy assistants as well as information for prospective students of physical therapy who are interested in knowing what their career outlook will be like if they do choose to pursue this course of study.


In order to be a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant you need to be licensed:

  • PTs are licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
  • PTAs are licensed or certified in 48 states (no license required in Colorado or Hawaii)

Once you have received your license through APTA you must remember to renew it on a regular basis. The renewal periods will be determined by the state in which you work as states can differ significantly in terms of their licensing laws. With this license you will be able to work as a physical therapist or physical therapy assistant within your defined scope of practice.

The reason why licensure and re-licensure is required for this profession is that it is important to ensure that the only the best candidates are allowed to practice as physical therapists. This maintains the quality of care received. In order to ensure that you meet the right level of quality you will be required to pass and write the comprehensive National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) which covers the entire scope of practice.

There are a number of very compelling reasons to become a member of APTA if you are a physical therapist. If you are able to join the American Physical Therapy Association you will not regret having done so. As associations aimed at regulating professions go, this is one of the better ones and you will find that your best interests are kept in mind at all times and that your needs as a physical therapist are met when necessary.

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