The Occupational Therapy Cross-State Licensure Compact Needs to Happen
The title says it all.
The physical therapy licensure compact was recently passed with a total of 10 states participating and 7 more states coming soon.
What better time than now to start pushing for our own occupational therapy licensure compact. This OT compact needs to happen!
What Is a Licensure Compact?
First off, if you aren’t familiar with what this is, a licensure compact is defined as “contracts between two or more states creating an agreement on a particular policy issue” (FSBPT).
In this case, this means that physical therapists licensed in one “home” state can work in other states that are part of the licensing compact without obtaining another separate license for each state.
Occupational therapy and speech therapy do not have this in place in any states, however licensed physical therapists now have this compact approved for 10 states.
Several more states are also about to join into this, with APTA hoping for all 50 states participating eventually.
Why This Is Important
If you are a traveling occupational therapist, or have to move states every so often for other reasons, you know how time consuming, expensive, and complicated it is having to apply for and maintain multiple state licenses.
We are more mobile than ever, yet are still required to get multiple licenses for every state we work in.
It is exhausting.
States can take several months to grant licenses, so if you have to move suddenly, you could be out of work for a significant period of time.
With a licensure compact in place, you could move to another state that participates. And as long as you have no negative marks on your current license, you can start working right away. No new license needed.
The Benefits Aren’t Just for Therapists
Creating a licensure compact for occupational therapists also greatly benefits the patient/consumer.
Telehealth is becoming more commonplace as many patients are in rural areas and do not have any access to OTs.
Currently, though, to practice telehealth, OT practitioners need to have a license for each state of each patient they’re working with. If an OT is theoretically working with patients from 10 different states, that’s 10 different licenses they’d need to apply for.
With the licensure compact in place, the OT would only need their home license and would be able to work with patients from any state that a compact would be in place.
The Bottom Line
Making it easier to practice OT will only help our profession grow. The easier it is for qualified OTs to practice, the more time we can all spend treating and less on paperwork.
And, this would make a great selling point for people interested in occupational therapy. To know that when you’re licensed, you can do travel therapy in any state or move to any state you want would be so enticing!
How You Can Help Move This Forward?
From what I could find, the most current information was from 2016 that AOTA has a committee that has discussed the benefits, but I’m not aware of anything moving forward.
The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy and APTA started their licensure compact in 2013 and they just now got it officially approved.
That’s potentially 5 years from now if things start really moving today. The good news is that we at least have the PT licensure to model after.
As occupational therapy practitioners, we need to get on this now if we want to see it happen for us. This isn’t going to just happen unless OTs all over the U.S. are pushing for it.
How Do We Do This?
While this is ultimately up to each state, we need our associations to help get this started and passed!
Call, e-mail or write to AOTA and your state OT association and let your voice be heard that you would like to see a licensure compact for OTs as well.
With more voices advocating for this, the likelier it is to gain traction and hopefully become a reality for us.
It’s a great sign that physical therapists have gotten this approved, as participating states and their licensing agencies realized the benefits for everyone.
We also need to advocate for the importance of occupational therapy having this licensing model as well.
Spread The Word
Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, and whatever channels you frequent. Tell your OT colleagues that would like to see this happen to also get on board and contact their state OT representatives and AOTA. While it may take several years, it will definitely be worth it for anyone who will ever need to move states.
The more awareness we bring to it and the more therapists that write to our agencies, the greater the chance is that this passes.
Helpful Resources for Establishing an Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact
While these resources were written for physical therapists, there is a lot of helpful information in the articles to get more of a grasp on how we as OTs can get this passed for us as well.