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The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties is the organizational body that guides the American Physical Therapy Association Clinical Specialization Program along with its appointed specialty councils.

The Board:

  • Reviews and revises policies and procedures to implement the certification process.
  • Advises the APTA Board of Directors and House of Delegates on matters concerning certification.
  • Approves and recommends to the APTA House of Delegates the formation of proposed specialty areas.
  • Approves and oversees the activities of the specialty councils.
  • Serves as the final appeal body for individuals whose application to sit for a certification examination is denied by a specialty council.
  • Considers requests for reconsideration of certification and recertification decisions.
  • Develops minimum requirements for certification and recertification to be used across all specialty areas, and approves specific requirements developed by councils.
  • Plans research related to the certification process.

Appointed Group Size

The ABPTS Board consists of nine board-certified physical therapists representing the ten different specialty areas. Additional members include:

  • One member with expertise in test development, evaluation, and education. This individual is appointed by ABPTS to serve a two-year term.
  • One consumer representative. This individual is appointed by the Board of Directors to serve a two-year term.
  • One public representative. This individual is appointed by the Board of Directors to serve a two-year term.

Term of Appointment

Physical therapist specialist positions on the board serve four-year terms, and all other board members serve two-year terms. ABPTS makes all board appointments during their fall meeting in September. Appointments begin in January of the following year.

Responsibilities and Time Commitment

All Board representatives are appointed by ABPTS to serve a four-year term.

  • Travel for one two-day and one three-day meeting annually (spring and fall), and for a combined ABPTS/Specialty Council meeting and Specialist Recognition Ceremony at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting each winter.
  • Participate in additional conference calls each year as needed to address issues that occur between annual meetings.
  • Review agenda materials before meetings including specialty council documents and candidate requests.
  • Serve as a contact to one of the specialty councils (outside of their particular specialty area) and communicate with that council on an ongoing basis.
  • Members of ABPTS may not concurrently hold a primary APTA section office that could present a conflict of interest between the two groups.
  • Although Specialty Council experience is preferred, it is not required for appointment to ABPTS.

APTA reimburses ABPTS members for all travel expenses.

Specialists who serve on the specialty councils, ABPTS, and the specialty application review committees receive 1 MOSC credit per year of service. 

Apply Online

The nomination process opens in mid-may each year with a July 31 submission deadline.