West Virginia

United States Physical Therapy Practice Acts

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Temporary License Requirements/Availability

Temporary licenses of up to 90 days are available to those in West Virginia who have applied to take the board licensure examination or those who have a license issued outside of West Virginia. Temporary license holders must work under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist until their permanent license is in effect. After passing the examination, the temporary license is still in effect for 30 days after they receive the results of the examination. If the temporary license holder fails the examination, the temporary license expires immediately.[1]

Requirements for License[1]

In order to be eligible for a physical therapy license in West Virginia, a person must:

  • Be at least 18 years old,
  • Be of good moral character,
  • Not be addicted to the intemperate use of alcohol or narcotic drugs or other controlled substances,
  • Not have been convicted of a felony within the past ten years,
  • Present evidence of graduation from an accredited school of physical therapy approved by the commission on accreditation in physical therapy education and the board,
  • And have passed the examination of the board for licensure.

A physical therapist must renew their license every two years and provide payment of the fee set by the board. A license which as lapsed may be renew within five years of its expiration. After five years, a previous license holder must go through the steps to obtain an initial license again.

Supervision

  • Direct supervision requires the physical therapist be physically present in the area where treatment is being provided.[1]
  • A physical therapist must perform the initial visit and final visit of each patient.[2]
  • Only four physical therapy assistants/aides can be supervised by a single physical therapist.[2]
  • In a hospital, acute-care center, outpatient facility, or independent practice, a physical therapist must provide on-site supervision of a physical therapy assistant, unless the facility permits the physical therapist to provide general supervision 40% of the time and after the physical therapy assistant has had 1000 hours of experience (in which case the form of supervision must be documented).[2]
  • A physical therapist may utilize general supervision, which requires a physical therapist be available via telecommunications, while providing care in a skilled/unskilled nursing facility, distinct part skilled/unskilled nursing unit or swing-bed unit in an acute-care hospital, home health, or school system setting. The physical therapist must, however, be available to make a joint on-site visit with the physical therapy assistant within 24 hours, and the physical therapist must make at least one visit per every ten physical therapy assistant visits to a patient or at least once per 30 days (whichever comes first).[2]
  • A physical therapy assistant is only allowed to provide direct supervision for a physical therapy aide in emergency situations when it is necessary to ensure patient safety.[2]

Physical Therapy Students

Students must be enrolled in an accredited physical therapy program and be planning to take the National Physical Therapy Exam in order to practice as a physical therapy student.[2]
According to the West Virginia University Division of Physical Therapy Program Policies and Procedures Manual:[3]

  • “Students must be supervised by a licensed physical therapist at any time the student is providing direct (hands-on) patient care.” This includes examination, evaluation, diagnosis/prognosis, treatment plan, hands-on intervention, and patient/family instruction.
  • A physical therapist must be physically present and immediately available for direction and supervision and the physical therapist must have direct contact with patients during each visit.
  • The amount of supervision of and delegation to the student is at the judgment of the supervising physical therapist.

Continued Competence [2]

  • A physical therapist must attend 24 hours of continuing education every two years. If the applicant only needs to renew their license for less than six months, only six hours of credit is required.
  • A new physical therapist does not need to obtain continuing education units for their first year as a physical therapist.
  • Excess hours may not “roll over” to the next renewal period.
  • Eight hours of continuing education can be obtained through clinical instruction. Each four week period of clinical instruction is equal to one hour of continuing education units.
  • Passing an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) specialty examination qualifies for 24 hours worth of continuing education units.
  • Instructing a continuing education course can qualify for one unit of credit per hour of class; however, each course may only be included once per renewal period, despite giving the course multiple times.
  • Completing a fellowship or residency program counts for 24 hours of continuing education.
  • One hour of continuing education may be obtained per hour of class instruction time at a CAPTE/APTA board certified college/university physical therapy program.
  • Renewal may be postponed under the circumstances of illness, disability, or undue hardship with appropriate supporting documents.

Does the Act appear restrictive? Why/Why not? [1]

The West Virginia Physical Therapy State Practice Act seems restrictive in its language. It has a negative connotation, in a sense that is uses phrases such as, “should not,” and limit all actions “except” those listed. For example, the first section of the West Virginia statutory law states,
      “The Legislature of the state of West Virginia hereby determines and finds that in the public interest persons should not engage in the practice of physical therapy or act as physical therapy assistants without the requisite experience and training and without adequate regulation and control; and that it is necessary to protect the citizens of this state from the unauthorized, unqualified and unregulated practice of physical therapy. It is therefore declared to be the public policy of this state that the practice of physical therapy affects the general welfare and public interest of the state and its citizens; that persons without the necessary qualifications, training and education and persons not of good character should not engage in the practice of physical therapy or act as physical therapy assistants; and that the evils of such unauthorized and unqualified practice may be best prevented and the interests of the public best served by regulating and controlling such practice as provided in this article.”
The statute also thoroughly describes the consequences and judicial measures that should occur if a person does not abide by the stated regulations.

Is there anything unusual about this act?

According to wvbopt.com, there is no wording in the legislature that states West Virginia is a direct access state. The statement requiring physician referral was simply removed in 1984, therefore leaving the law open to interpretation.[1]

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References

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 West Virginia Board of Physical Therapy, Statutory Law. Statute & Rules for the WV Board of Physical Therapy: Chapter 30, Article 20. http://www.wvbopt.com/documents/StatutoryLaw.pdf (accessed 17 Apr 2012).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 West Virginia Board of Physical Therapy, Legislative Rule. Series 1: General Provisions for Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant. http://www.wvbopt.com/documents/Title%2016%20Series%201%20General%20Provisions%20for%20PT-PTA%20-%20Effective%20June%2016%2020111.pdf (accessed 18 Apr 2012).
  3. West Virginia University, Division of Physical Therapy. Program Policies and Procedures Manual. http://medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/pt/MediaLibraries/Medicine-PT/Media/PDF/Education/WVU-Division-of-Physical-Therapy-Policies-and-Procedures-Handbook.pdf (accessed 19 Apr 2012).

Disclaimer:   Informational Content is assimilated from the state practice act is a resource only and should not be considered a  substitute for the content within the state practice act.  All state practice acts can change and it is recommended that you refer to the original resource in the link above.