States have rules for driving a car, catching a fish, and hunting wild game. At the same time, we also have Rules and Regulations in each state for Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapy Assistants, Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants, Speech Language Pathologists, Audiologists, and Speech Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship. Some states issue temporary/provisional/limited licenses for those who are scheduled to sit for state board examinations, while other states do not. Most states issue temporary/provisional/limited licenses for the speech language pathology clinical fellowship, but currently, seven states do not.
Why There is No Consistency Between States Governing the Different Therapy Disciplines
The simple answer is that each state has an occupational therapy board, physical therapy board, and speech language pathology and audiology board who governs and constitutes the laws for the practice of therapy for their respective disciplines. Each state board has a set of rules and regulations that must be followed to practice therapy. Contained in these rules and regulations is the therapy practice act for that discipline in that state.
In addition to each board, each therapy discipline has a national association that supports therapists and students. As a member of these associations, therapists, assistants, and students will have support from their respective discipline national association through their membership. The associations provided invaluable information and support to their members as well as the community. As an example of the invaluable information provided by the national associations, below are three links provided by each association providing a quick reference for each practice act by state specific to their discipline.
It is the responsibility of each therapist, assistant, and student to understand and follow their state practice act to ensure they are delivering service appropriately, following appropriate supervision requirements, and ensuring compliance with documentation requirements per their practice act. In addition to the provision of therapy standards, the practice act provides information on issuance of licenses, license renewal information, and the board responsibilities. Therapy providers who operate in multiple states will need to be sure their operations team is familiar and following the act in the states in which they operate. When reviewing all regulations relating to therapy, there may be duplication of information that may conflict between state and federal mandates. In cases such as these, the most stringent regulation applies.
The practice act is subject to change, and are typically updated every 6 months to a year or so. Constant review of each therapy practice act is necessary to ensure all laws and regulations are met.
Gina Tomcsik, Director of Compliance