The Vermont Statutes Online
Title 26: Professions and Occupations
Chapter 038: PHYSICAL THERAPISTS
- Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 2081. Repealed. 1997, No. 40, § 27.
§ 2081a. Definitions
As used in this chapter:
(2) “Disciplinary action” or “disciplinary cases” includes any action taken by the administrative law officer appointed under 3 V.S.A. § 129(j) against a licensee or applicant premised upon a finding of wrongdoing or unprofessional conduct by the licensee or applicant. It includes all sanctions of any kind, including obtaining injunctions, suspending or revoking licenses, issuing conditions on practice, warnings, and other similar sanctions.
(3) “Distance consultation” means the rendering of professional or expert opinion or advice to a licensed physical therapist, including the review or transfer of patient records or related information by means of audio, video, or data communications.
(4) “Physical therapist” means a person who has met all the conditions of this chapter and is licensed for the practice of physical therapy in this State.
(5) “Physical therapist assistant” means a person who has met the conditions of this chapter and is licensed to perform selected physical therapy interventions and related tasks that have been assigned by the supervising physical therapist.
(6) “Physical therapy” means the care and services provided by or under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist who is licensed pursuant to this chapter.
(7) “Physical therapy aide” means a person, trained under the direction of a physical therapist, who performs designated and supervised routine physical therapy tasks.
(8) “Practice of physical therapy” means:
(A) examining, evaluating, and testing, in order to determine a plan of care inclusive of appropriate therapeutic interventions and expected outcome and effect of the interventions of individuals with:
(i) mechanical, physiological, and developmental impairments;
(ii) functional limitations in physical movement and mobility;
(iii) disabilities; and
(iv) other movement-related conditions;
(B) alleviating impairments and functional limitations in physical movement and mobility and disabilities by developing, implementing, and modifying treatment interventions; or
(C) reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation, and disability related to physical movement and mobility, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and wellness related to movement and function. (Added 1997, No. 40, § 25; amended 2005, No. 27, § 54; 2007, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. July 1, 2009; 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)
§ 2082. Prohibition; offenses
(a) No person shall:
(1) practice or attempt to practice physical therapy or hold himself or herself out as being able to do so in this State without first having obtained a license; or
(2) use in connection with the person’s name or business the words “physical therapy,” “physical therapist,” “physical therapist assistant,” “physiotherapy,” “physiotherapist,” the initials “PT,” “PTA,” “DPT,” or any letters, words, abbreviations, or insignia indicating or implying that the person is a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant unless the person is licensed in accordance with this chapter; or
(3) practice or attempt to practice physical therapy during license revocation or suspension.
(b) A person violating any of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in 3 V.S.A. § 127(c).
(c) A physical therapist shall use the letters “PT” in connection with the physical therapist’s name or place of business to denote licensure, and a physical therapist assistant shall use the letters “PTA.” (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 2005, No. 27, § 55; 2005, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 19; 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 15.)
§ 2083. Exemptions from licensure
The following persons shall be permitted to practice as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant in this State without obtaining a license under this chapter upon the following conditions:
(1) students enrolled in accredited physical therapist or physical therapist assistant educational programs, while engaged in completing a clinical requirement for graduation, which must be performed under the supervision and direction of a licensed physical therapist;
(2) physical therapists licensed in other jurisdictions while enrolled in this State in postprofessional educational programs that include the evaluation and treatment of patients as part of their experience required for credit, as long as the student’s practice is limited to the scope of the educational program;
(3) physical therapists and physical therapist assistants employed in the U.S. Armed Services, U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or by another federal agency;
(4) physical therapists or physical therapist assistants licensed or regulated in another jurisdiction of the United States or credentialed to practice physical therapy in another country if that person is teaching, demonstrating, or providing physical therapy in connection with teaching or participating in an educational seminar of no more than 60 days in a calendar year;
(5) a physical therapist who is licensed in another jurisdiction of the United States if that person is providing distance consultation to a physical therapist licensed pursuant to this chapter;
(6) a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant licensed in another jurisdiction of the United States or credentialed in another country, if that person by contract or employment is providing physical therapy to individuals affiliated with or employed by an athletic team, an athletic organization, or a performing arts company temporarily practicing, competing, or performing in the State for no more than 60 days in a calendar year. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 2005, No. 27, § 56; 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 16; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 278.)
§ 2084. Construction
This chapter shall not be construed to limit or restrict in any manner the right of a practitioner of another occupation that is regulated by this State from carrying on in the usual manner any of the functions of his or her profession. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)
§ 2085. Repealed. 2007, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 3(b).
§ 2086. Patient care management
(a) A physical therapist shall be professionally responsible and legally liable for all aspects of the physical therapy care of each of his or her patients. The Director of the Office of Professional Regulation shall identify by rule physical therapy services that only a physical therapist may perform. At a minimum, a physical therapist shall provide:
(1) the initial examination and documentation for each of his or her patients;
(2) periodic reexamination and documentation of each of his or her patients;
(3) the documented discharge of the patient, including the response to therapeutic intervention at the time of discharge.
(b) A physical therapist shall ensure the qualifications of all physical therapist assistants and physical therapy aides under his or her direction or supervision.
(c) For each of his or her patients on each date of treatment, a physical therapist shall provide all of the therapeutic intervention that requires the expertise of a physical therapist and shall determine the use of physical therapist assistants or physical therapy aides who provide for the delivery of care that is safe, effective, and efficient, provided the assigned acts, tasks, or procedures do not exceed the person’s education or training and provided:
(1) A physical therapist assistant shall work under a physical therapist’s supervision. A physical therapist assistant may document care pursuant to the existing treatment plan from the supervising physical therapist.
(2) A physical therapist may use physical therapy aides for designated routine tasks. A physical therapy aide shall work under the on-site supervision of a physical therapist who is continuously on site and present at the facility, who is immediately available to assist the person being supervised in the services being performed, and who maintains continued involvement in appropriate aspects of each treatment session in which a component of treatment is assigned. This supervision by the physical therapist may extend to off-site supervision of the aide only when the physical therapy aide is accompanying and working directly with a physical therapist assistant with a specific patient or when performing nonpatient-related tasks.
(d) A physical therapist’s responsibility for patient care management shall include accurate documentation of and billing for the services provided.
(e) A physical therapist shall be responsible for communicating the status of a patient’s progress and other relevant information to the patient’s referring health care professional unless the patient declines to authorize release of the patient’s physical therapy records. (Added 2007, No. 141 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. July 1, 2009.)
- Subchapter 002: ADMINISTRATION
§ 2091. Director of the Office of Professional Regulation; duties
The Director of the Office of Professional Regulation, with the advice of the advisors appointed under this chapter, shall:
(1) provide general information to applicants for admission to licensure as physical therapists or physical therapist assistants;
(2) explain appeal procedures to licensees and applicants and complaint procedures to the public;
(3) explain sanctions, including license revocation and suspension, which may be imposed in disciplinary cases, the criteria by which sanctions are selected, and procedures for reinstatement where appropriate;
(4) administer fees as previously established by law;
(5) receive and evaluate applications for licensure, provide for examinations and set passing scores, provide licenses to applicants qualified under this chapter, renew, revoke, and reinstate licenses, or otherwise discipline licensees as ordered by an administrative law officer;
(6) issue to each person licensed a certificate of licensure that shall be prima facie evidence of the right of the person to whom it is issued to practice as a licensed physical therapist or to represent himself or herself as a licensed physical therapist assistant, subject to the conditions and limitations of this chapter; and
(7) adopt rules necessary to perform his or her duties under this chapter. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1997, No. 40, § 49(a); 2005, No. 27, § 57.)
§ 2092. Advisor appointees
(a) The Secretary of State shall appoint two physical therapists to serve as advisors in matters relating to physical therapy. They shall be appointed for staggered five-year terms and shall serve at the pleasure of the Secretary. One of the initial appointments may be for less than a full term. Appointees shall have not less than three years’ experience as a physical therapist immediately preceding appointment and shall be actively engaged in the practice of physical therapy in Vermont during incumbency.
(b) The Director shall refer complaints and disciplinary matters to an administrative law officer established under 3 V.S.A. § 129(j).
(c) The Director shall seek the advice of the physical therapists appointed under this section in carrying out the provisions of this chapter. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 54; 1997, No. 40, § 49(a); 2005, No. 27, § 58.)
- Subchapter 003: LICENSURE
§ 2101. Eligibility
(a) An applicant for a license as a physical therapist shall:
(1) be a graduate of a professional physical therapy education program accredited by a national accreditation agency approved by the Director;
(2) pass an examination approved by the Director; and
(3) pass an approved English proficiency exam if the applicant’s native language is not English.
(b) An applicant for a license as a physical therapist who has been educated outside the United States and has graduated from a professional physical therapy education program not accredited by a national accreditation agency approved by the Director shall:
(1) provide satisfactory evidence that the applicant’s education is substantially equivalent to the requirements of physical therapists educated in an accredited education program as determined by the Director. For the purpose of this section, “substantially equivalent” means that an applicant for licensure educated outside the United States shall have:
(A) graduated from a physical therapist education program that prepares the applicant to engage in the practice of physical therapy without restriction;
(B) provided written proof that the applicant’s school of physical therapy education is recognized by its own ministry or department of education;
(C) undergone a credentials evaluation as directed by the Director that demonstrates that the candidate has met uniform criteria for educational requirements as adopted by rule; and
(D) completed any additional education as required by the Director;
(2) pass an approved English proficiency examination if the applicant’s native language is not English; and
(3) pass an examination approved by the Director.
(c) An applicant for licensure as a physical therapist assistant shall:
(1) be a graduate of a physical therapist assistant education program accredited by a national accreditation agency approved by the Director;
(2) pass an approved English proficiency examination if the applicant’s native language is not English; and
(3) pass an examination approved by the Director. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 2005, No. 27, § 59.)
§ 2102. Application
Unless entitled to licensure under section 2104 of this title, and according to the procedures outlined in the rules of the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation, a person who desires to be licensed as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant shall apply to the Director in writing on a form furnished by the Director, accompanied by payment of the specified fee. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d).)
§ 2103. Examination
(a) The Director of the Office of Professional Regulation shall provide for examinations for licensure as physical therapists or physical therapist assistants at such times and places as he or she may determine.
(b) Examinations administered and procedures followed by the Director shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to reasonably ensure that an applicant is at least minimally qualified to practice physical therapy. They shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of licensees.
(c) An applicant for licensure as a physical therapist may take the examination after the application process has been completed and the application approved. The examination shall test entry-level competence related to physical therapy theory, examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment intervention, prevention, and consultation.
(d) An applicant for licensure as a physical therapist assistant may take the examination after the application process has been completed and the application approved. The examination shall test for requisite knowledge and skills in the technical application of physical therapy services.
(e) An applicant for licensure who does not pass the examination on the first attempt may retake the examination one additional time without reapplication for licensure within six months of the first examination. Before the Director may approve an applicant for subsequent testing beyond two attempts, an applicant shall reapply for licensure and shall submit evidence satisfactory to the Director of having successfully completed additional clinical training or course work, or both, as determined by the Director.
(f) The Director may require an examination designed to test the knowledge of the applicant regarding Vermont laws relating to physical therapy practice. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 2005, No. 27, § 60; 2019, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 13, eff. Oct. 1, 2020.)
§ 2104. Licensure by endorsement
A person who is licensed under the laws of another jurisdiction and who desires licensure as a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant shall apply to the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation in writing on a form furnished by the Director, accompanied by the specified fee. The Director shall license those persons if he or she deems that they have met requirements in the other jurisdiction that are substantially equivalent to those of this State. In all other cases, the Director of the Office of Professional Regulation may make such regulations as are reasonable and necessary for the protection of the public to assure that the applicant under this section is professionally qualified. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 2005, No. 27, § 61; 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 18.)
§ 2105. Temporary licensure pending endorsement
The Director may issue a temporary license to practice as a physical therapist for a period not to exceed 90 days to a physical therapist currently licensed in another jurisdiction who has applied for licensure by endorsement in accordance with the statutes and rules governing the profession. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 19.)
§ 2106. Repealed. 1997, No. 59, § 65(1), eff. June 30, 1997.
§ 2106a. Repealed. 2005, No. 27, § 117(1).
§ 2107. Renewals
(a) Licenses shall be renewed every two years upon payment of the required fee.
(b) Biennially, the Director shall forward a renewal form to each license holder. Upon receipt of the completed form and the renewal fee, the Director shall issue a new license.
(c) Any application for renewal of a license that has expired shall be accompanied by the renewal fee and late fee. A person shall not be required to pay renewal fees for years during which the license was lapsed.
(d) The Director shall establish continuing competence requirements by rule as a condition of licensure renewal. (Added 1999, No. 52, § 13; amended 2005, No. 27, § 62.)
§ 2108. Reinstatement
If a physical therapist’s license has lapsed for more than five consecutive years, that person may have his or her license reinstated upon payment of all applicable renewal and reinstatement fees, and demonstration of competence to practice the profession by one or more of the following, as determined by the Director:
(1) practice for a specified time under a limited or supervised license;
(2) completion of a remedial course;
(3) completion of continuing competence requirements;
(4) passage of an examination approved by the Director; or
(5) practice with a license in good standing in another jurisdiction. (Added 2005, No. 27, § 63; amended 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 20.)
- Subchapter 004: DISCIPLINE
§ 2121. Unprofessional conduct
(a) Unprofessional conduct is the conduct prohibited by this section and by 3 V.S.A. § 129a, whether or not taken by a license holder.
(b) Unprofessional conduct shall include:
(1) sexual harassment of a patient;
(2) engaging in a sexual act as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3251 with a patient;
(3) any of the following except when reasonably undertaken in an emergency situation in order to protect life, health, or property:
(A) practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope permitted by law;
(B) accepting and performing physical therapy responsibilities that the licensee knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform; or
(C) performing physical therapy services that have not been authorized by the consumer or the consumer’s legal representative.
(c) After hearing, an administrative law officer may take disciplinary action against a licensee or applicant found guilty of unprofessional conduct. A finding of unprofessional conduct shall be grounds for:
(1) denying an application for licensure;
(2) revoking, suspending, or conditioning a license; or
(3) otherwise disciplining a licensee. (Added 1981, No. 227 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1997, No. 40, § 49; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 44; 1999, No. 52, § 14; 2005, No. 27, § 64; 2007, No. 163 (Adj. Sess.), § 21.)