Accreditation by CAPTE is a statement that a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant education program meets the standards for quality set by the profession.
CAPTE accredits physical therapy programs that educate students for entry into the profession:
- professional physical therapist programs at the clinical doctorate level;
- technical physical therapist assistant programs at the associate's degree level.
CAPTE accreditation is important because:
- It helps students and their parents select programs that will provide the education necessary to enter the profession.
- It fosters quality educational experiences and helps to assure that the program is taught by qualified faculty, has the resources it needs to support the curriculum, meets its mission, has acceptable student outcomes, and provides accurate information to the public.
- It provides students and others a place to submit a complaint if an accredited program fails to meet its obligation to maintain compliance with CAPTE's Standards and Required Elements.
- Graduation from a CAPTE-accredited program is required for eligibility to sit for the licensing exam. It is also required in order to provide physical therapy services to patients/clients on Medicare.
Who Benefits from Accreditation
The physical therapy accreditation process is a valuable service to the public, students, educational institutions, the programs, and the profession. For example:
The public is assured that accredited physical therapy education programs are evaluated extensively and conform to general expectations in the professional field. Because accreditation requires continual self-evaluation, regular reports, and periodic external review, the public can be assured the educational quality of the programs remains current and reflects changes in knowledge and practice of the profession. This assurance is particularly important to the patients who use physical therapy services, their families, and state licensure boards.
Students can identify those educational programs that meet their chosen profession's standards for a quality, relevant education. Graduation from an accredited program is required for licensure to practice physical therapy in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico; by all states currently licensing physical therapist assistants; and for individual membership in the American Physical Therapy Association.
Institutions of higher education and the education programs benefit from the stimulus for self-evaluation and self-directed improvement provided by the accreditation process. Accreditation status increases opportunities for public and private funding for both the institution and its students and enhances the credibility and reputation of the facilities and programs.
The profession benefits from its members' vital input into the standards established for entry-level education of its future professionals. The commitment to excellence in physical therapy practice is enhanced as the accreditation process brings together practitioners, teachers, and students in an activity directed toward continual improvement of professional education.